Culture Shock: Surviving the Chaos


How to shake the blues

  1. Engage in activities that bring you joy.
  2. Look for volunteer opportunities such as community service projects.
  3. Get your mind off things by going to a comedy film or out with new friends.
  4. Push yourself to go out and socialize even if you don’t feel like it. It usually turns out to be a better time than you thought.
  5. Do something nice for someone else.
  6. Try identifying all the good that has come from this change in your life.

Along with the losses of what you have left behind is a realm of gains. What are some of the positive things that have come out of this experience? You may be missing your old friends, but you are making new ones, seeing new places, and having some exciting new experiences. Don’t give up. You will get through it.

Eventually, and this can be weeks or months depending on the individual student, negativities begin to melt away and you begin to see the value in both your new home and the place where you have come from. There may still be much you don’t care for in this new place, but you can now sort out things you were not so fond of at home either. Your perspective is changing. You are balancing your experiences. You begin to relax and develop some routines that help bring structure and propel you forward.

The good news is that research by the Interchange Institute has shown that people who have received training before making an international relocation have easier adjustments. So just knowing that this list of chaotic emotions is not only normal, but it is expected and temporary will help you remember you are not going crazy, you are simply going through culture shock.


Special thanks to Tina L. Quick for providing us with this article. Tina is the author of two extraordinary books dedicated to international students going to study in America: Survive and Thrive: The International Student’s Guide to Succeeding in the U.S. and The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition.