Culture Shock describes the impact of moving from a familiar culture to one which is unfamiliar. It is an experience described by people who have travelled abroad to work, live or study; it can be felt to a certain extent event when abroad on holiday. It can affect anyone, including international students.

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It includes the shock of a new environment, meeting lots of new people and learning the ways of a different country.

It also includes the shock of being separated from the important people in your life, maybe family, friends, colleagues, and teachers: people you would normally talk to at times of uncertainty, people who give you support and guidance. When familiar sights, sounds, smells or tastes are no longer there you can miss them very much.

If you are tired and jet-lagged when you arrive small things can be upsetting and out of all proportion to their real significance.

Coming to a new country can be an unsettling experience. The new term is full of activities. You will meet new friends, eat new food and hear new languages. As things become more settled and you start to adjust to your new environment, you may begin to experience some loneliness and sadness because you are away from your family and friends.

Loneliness is a natural feeling experienced by home as well as international students. It is extremely important that you do not isolate yourself. These feelings of homesickness will gradually disappear as you become used to your new way of life. Sometimes it is good to talk about these feelings and there are many services you can access at the university if you feel you wish to do this.

The Life Lounge based on T2, Eagle Building brings together specialist services, free for students to access including Counselling Student Liaison Officers (SLOs) CBT Clinic Study Skills Nurse Advisor Clinic. Further information about the life lounge including how to access these services can be found on the Life Lounge webpage 

The university also has a Multi-Faith Chaplaincy. They are available in the chaplaincy office, Social Learning Zone or Athena Cafe to give pastoral support to students and staff of any faith and none – and we are very good at listening.

Further information about the chaplaincy can be found on thier webpages Chaplaincy

Some tips for dealing with culture shock

  • Keep in regular contact with family and friends at home
  • Have personal items such as photographs and pictures around you
  • Eat familiar food
  • Sign up for some form of exercise, as well as being good for you it’s a great way to meet new people
  • Make friends with other new students either from your home country or elsewhere
  • Make use of the university services such as counselling and the chaplaincy
  • Visit the Student Union to find out about clubs and societies or just to talk to somebody.


Last updated May 2017.