Culture shock is real.
While some people experience a lot of culture shock, and some people experience very little, it is fair to say that everyone experiences some form of culture shock during their experience as an overseas student.
As more and more students travel overseas, more and more resources have become available to help students cope with culture shock or arrival to their host country, and then on their return home.
I was an exchange student when I was at uni. I clearly remember going though culture shock in the first few days – I was terribly jetlagged, and didn’t know that I had to signal bus drivers to stop. Bus after bus passed me by, empty. I got so frustrated, and then felt like an idiot when a local came by, signaled the driver and like magic, the bus stopped and I was able to get on. Everything eventually fell into place and by the time the semester was over, I didn’t want to leave!
When I got home, I had to deal with reverse culture shock – which I totally didn’t expect, but as I know now, is very common amongst returned exchange students.
After the inital euphoria of being home, and seeing all my loved ones, I couldn’t shake the fact that my time overseas was over. I had had so many adventures overseas, and made great friends – I couldn’t believe that all my planning for my semester overseas, was over, just like that.
I found great comfort talking with other returned students back at uni, and volunteered with my International Office. I sat at exchange fair tables with my photo albums, I talked to classrooms full of students interested in going overseas…I did all I could to get through it. Guess what – it worked.
You may want to check out these great websites for more infomation on culture shock: