Cultural adjustment

While you are abroad, you may experience a degree of culture shock. The resources provided on cultural difference and culture shock provided will help you prepare for the adjustment period and locate resources you need.

During your period of adjustment, you should take steps to connect with other people, and find local activities that help you feel engaged in local culture and events.

Early in your study abroad, make sure you know where important campus offices and resources at your host institution are located, so that if you need them, the information is handy.

Most cities have travel and tourism web sites as well as tourism offices. Use the local city's resources to identify local areas of interest for visits, learn about cultural events such as museum openings, sports events, festivals and performances. Going to such events will help you learn about the culture and meet others, both international students and local people.

Join local sports or other clubs, and participate in student activities as well as other cultural and social activities both on and off campus.

Make sure you travel and visit the region, and take advantage of your time abroad.

But also, balance the desire for travel with staying in place to experience life in your city or town. If you are away all the time, you may miss some opportunities to experience local culture or make deeper connections with other locals, including students.

Make an effort to learn local cultural practices and rhythms.

Make a conscious effort to get to know people through the above activities, and for more support, seek out other students from the United States (whether from UW-Madison or other schools) so that you do know others who are experiencing the same adjustment as you. But be careful that you do not isolate yourself from the local culture and end up hanging out only with other expatriate students from the U.S. or elsewhere.

Remind yourself that culture shock has stages, and observe your progress toward increased adjustment and cultural awareness.