For many students this will be their first opportunity to live in another country. You can make the transition from home to Adelaide easier by preparing yourself.
The University will provide you with a lot of information as part of your official Univeristy of Adelaide Orientation Program, which will commence after you arrive and shortly before you begin your academic program. If you click on the image above, you can watch a short video that will explain the Orientation program and what to expect in your first week.
- Pre-Departure Information
- Culture fatigue / Culture shock
“Culture shock might be called an occupational disease of people who have been suddenly transplanted abroad.” (Oberg, 1960: p.185)
‘Culture fatigue’ is the stress a person experiences when living in a foreign culture. More than just the recognition of cultural difference, it refers to the stress that builds from the daily experience of many differences when living in a new environment. Culture fatigue has symptoms that range from feelings of not caring, to extreme anxiety. Common symptoms include difficulty in sleeping, headaches, stomach aches, irritability, and feelings of impatience, anger and sadness.
Everyone experiences some degree of culture fatigue when they arrive in a new country. The good news is over time you will adapt, your feelings and moods will level out, and things will become easier. If you find yourself feeling disorientated or confronted, you are probably experiencing culture fatigue.
During your first weeks here you might notice that people have different values and communication patterns than those you are used to; the food might be different, shops may have shorter opening hours and sell different products. You may witness behaviour that is difficult for you to understand.
Adelaide may be small, or large, compared to your home city. You might find the public transport expensive or infrequent. You might hear words that you have never heard before. Australia may be different from your perceptions of what it ‘should be’. All of these things can leave you feeling tired and homesick. Remember that it is okay to feel this way: other people experience it too.
- What to expect and methods to help you adjust
The first step to overcoming culture fatigue is to recognise the symptoms for what they are. Taking active measures to make yourself feel better is the second step. Each person will require a different amount of time to adjust to a new environment. It may take one month— or ten—for you to begin to feel at home.
Below are some useful tips to assist you while you are making the transition to your new environment. Using these ideas to create new routines will be very helpful to you during your time at the University and in Australia.
- Make sure you are eating healthy food and getting enough exercise and rest.
- Maintain a balance in your study and personal life.
- Try new foods.
- Seek help from an International Student Advisor, School staff or friends.
- Talk to other international students about how you feel and ask their advice about how they cope.
- Join student organisations, clubs and societies and make friends.
- Volunteer your time and skills—you’ll keep busy, meet new people, gain new skills and a reference for your resume!
- Learn about the new culture you are in.
- Be yourself, if you try to become more Australian than local people, you will confuse them and yourself.
- Speak up in class. Even if your English isn’t perfect, your thoughts will be valued.
- Be direct with people. Ask for assistance.
- One of the best ways to help you feel more at home is to set up a comfortable ‘space’ in your new accommodation. Try and make it similar to one you had back home. This creates a little haven for you.
- Try and find as many positive aspects about Adelaide and university as possible.
- Check your home newspapers online at the Barr Smith Library.
- Go on tours or catch trains, trams or buses to places you haven’t been to before.
- Call or email a friend at home.
- If you hear new words or expressions, ask what they mean and try using them.
- Avoid sitting at home and brooding.
- Think about what you have accomplished in Australia that you could not do before.
- Be patient.
- Be aware of the different stages of culture fatigue and expect to go through them.
- Set yourself specific and achievable goals and plan how you can achieve these goals.
- Recognise that different people adapt in different ways, and be prepared to experiment with different learning styles.
- Practise your English skills and meet new people at the International Student Support’s weekly morning tea.
Most importantly, give yourself time to adjust. Adjustment doesn’t occur immediately, but with time you will come to view your new surroundings more objectively and will not feel threatened by its differences.
- Hofstede, Geert (1997) Cultures and Organisations: Software of the Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Oberg, Kalvero (1960) ‘Culture Shock and the Problem of Adjustment in New Cultural Environments’. In: Weaver, Gary R. (ed.) (1998) Culture, Communication and Conflict. Readings in Intercultural Relations. Needham Heights, MA: Simon & Schuster Publishing.