Adjusting to Life Abroad

Culture Shock or “Bumps”

Living and studying in a new place is exciting, but it can also be frustrating. You may feel a rollercoaster of emotions from the exhilaration of first arriving, to struggling to communicate effectively to the joy of making new friends, to the sadness of having to leave.

Culture shock is referred to as the difficulties you may have while living and navigating in an unfamiliar environment. It is referred to as a shock because these difficulties may be surprising or unexpected. They are also referred to as “bumps” because the differences or challenges you may face may be smaller, though none the less impactful.

Tips for Adapting

  • Keep an open mind
  • Be willing to try new things
  • Learn about where you are. What are the cultural values? What is the country's history? What historical or cultural sites should you visit?
  • Observe and listen to your surroundings
  • Spend time reflecting on your experiences. Speak with others in your program and reflect together. Consider keeping a journal to note what you learned and experienced so you can reflect and share after you return home.
  • Keep a healthy balance between keeping in contact with home and interacting with your local, host community
  • Reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Know that there are many people available to support you. If you would like to talk or want to be connected with additional resources, please reach out to an Education Abroad Advisor at