Cultural adjustment

Learn about the Host Culture

Before you leave your host country, learn as much as you can about your destination and its culture as you are able: study, read and watch local TV.

Find reliable information about your destination country. The below links provide quick and reliable access to facts and summaries. Use these to increase your understanding of your destination country.

eiu.com Economist Intelligence Unit


Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations


Cultural Adjustment

It is normal to feel stress when adjusting to another culture, but there is much that you can do to minimize the impact. You can start by learning about your host culture before you travel abroad. While abroad, try to view things from the local perspective.

Below are a few pointers:

  • Meet locals/share an interest — Make an effort to meet local people. The easiest way to meet people is to participate in an interest group, sports or music. These are things that can be done even if there are language or cultural barriers. Don’t glue yourself to instant messaging or Facebook with your friends in Hong Kong; make an effort to plug into your host culture.
  • Know your environment — Take time to walk around the local area and familiarize yourself with the local establishments. Find interesting places and talk to people around you. You will soon feel more comfortable in your new environment.
  • Stay positive — Avoid those who have a habit of criticizing the host culture. Build friendships with people who will help you learn, who will listen to your concerns and who will help you develop a positive attitude.
  • Follow local news — Read newspapers and magazines, watch local TV and movies to learn about local perspectives and customs. These will help you integrate into the host culture and also help you acquire information that is relevant to your health and safety while in the host country.
  • Take photos/record your experience — Keep a journal, blog or post on your social media accounts. Record your experiences, thoughts and observations, and take the time to reflect. Writing your experiences and reflections down will help you measure your adjustment to the host culture.

Practice the Language

Your study abroad program might be an English-taught program, and the staff and students in the host institution may all speak English. However, if you are in a country where English is not the primary language of social interaction, it would benefit your study abroad experience greatly if you try to pick up the local language.

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