3 Tips for Dealing with Culture Shock

Tags: Study Abroad,wsa intern,culture shock,adjusting,2018,living abroad

By WSA intern Emily Rose

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By this point you have probably heard all about culture shock and the stages that you’re likely to go through as part of your study abroad experience. The truth is that everyone experiences culture shock differently and there is no special spell that can get rid of the culture shock that you are going to feel. This past year I have studied abroad in two different countries and gone through culture shock not once, but twice...and let me tell you it can absolutely suck. But lucky for you I have picked up a couple tips and tricks that have helped me. Here are the three things that have helped me the most!

  1. Let go of what you think the culture will be like: This one can be a toughie. Before you even get to your study abroad city you will most likely have a picture of what the whole experience will be like; how the food will taste, how banging the clubs will be, how much weight you’ll gain from eating enough gelato to feed a small village for two years and how much walking you’ll have to do to work off that gelato (did someone say gelato?). The trouble with pre-planning how you think the country will be can actually make transitioning and acclimating to the new culture a lot harder because the culture and people will most likely end up being nothing like you thought they would be.

  2. Do not isolate yourself: The worst possible thing that you can do when dealing with culture shock is to isolate yourself from the people and culture all together. Don’t go out to eat at the pizza restaurant that only speaks English and then go back home and binge watch all of Stranger Things--even if that does sound like the best idea you’ve ever had (trust me, it’s not). Go out and try the food that is specific to the country and really start to challenge yourself and your beliefs. If you just stay home all the time then you will never be able to fully grasp this new culture and all of the amazing things that it has to offer. WSA trips are also a great way to meet new people and build long lasting friendships, and help you break out of your comfort zone.

  3. Do not spend all of your free time on social media: One of the worst parts about Culture Shock is that the FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) from back home is very real. You’ll find yourself scrolling through Instagram seeing what all your friends are doing back home without you and you’ll immediately wonder what all you’re missing out on. Also try and give a heads up to your parents to not post so many photos of your beloved dog/cat/pet gecko on Facebook while you’re away. That’s the worst.

Hopefully these tips help you out while you adjust to your new surroundings. Remember that you are not the only person going through culture shock and that it is perfectly normal! It just takes a little time and then before you know it you’ll feel right at home! 


Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame

Happy Backpackers

The most fun, exciting, educational, and craziest weekend I had during my semester abroad. You definitely get the maximum bang for your buck with WSA. WSA provided me with an unbelieveable weekend in Budapest. After hearing from my friends about their amazing experiences on WSA trips, I had to see what all the hype was about. I chose to take part in a WSA weekend in Budapest, and I loved every minute of it. The guide, Bogi, was the best! WSA is the perfect blend of an educational/tourist expereince while also allowing for sites off the beaten path as well as kickass nightlife. You won't regret a trip with WSA.

Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame ~ University of Notre Dame, London, Spring 2015

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