Adjusting to New Cultures

You’re in a new country where everything from the language spoken to the way people view you is completely different. The first few days can be a little disorienting as you try to make sense of your new surroundings. It’s unfamiliar, unknown, and foreign. The task may seem intimidating at first, but with an open mind and some time, you will be able to adjust and reach a level of comfort with your new home – and you might find that certain things aren’t as different as you thought they might be.

Read on for tips from former students on how to adjust:

In a study abroad situation, it’s easy to stay within your comfort zone.  The trip is what you make of it, and if you want to see and experience new things, you have to meet the culture halfway. I never thought that I would have gotten to really immerse myself in a different culture, but now I see the world in a completely different light and see how expansive it truly is.- Kimberly, London

There wasn’t anything so drastically different that it made me feel bizarre.  Western Europe is pretty Americanized and the only big differences were in terms of manners and etiquette, especially in restaurants.  You catch on pretty quickly though because you get sick of the stares. – Courtney, Florence & Paris

For the most part, I don’t think that the locals treated me differently from the rest of the NYU students due to my race. Most of the times I mainly stood out to the locals for being an American rather than for my particular race.- Bernie, London

I felt that I adapted really well to the Italian culture. However, many of my housemates had a hard time with the language barrier, lack of frozen dinners and ready-made meals, etc. – Stephen, Florence

I thought that making the cultural adjustments to Shanghai were easy overall. Part of this is because Shanghai, like New York, is an international kind of city – you’re aware of still being in China, of course, but it has a lot in common with other metropolises all over the world. I’d also done some research about cultural issues on my own before heading to China, so that I’d know what to expect upon arrival. The orientation that we received the first week helped as well. – Julia, Shanghai

I didn’t think it was that difficult to adapt to French culture, although I did have to get used to always having to dress nicely, even when I was going to do my laundry which is clearly when all my nice clothes are dirty. – Angela, Paris

Sometimes, I felt a majority of the British population did not expect as much customer service from their vendors as people in the US would. Therefore, some service personnel focus less on customer service and appeasing the customer.- Gerri, London

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