If you are one of the approximately 2,000 international students at Clemson University, chances are you suffered—or are suffering—from culture shock, or a feeling of disorientation upon your immersion in a new place. Hopefully, you have conducted some research about American culture before coming to the United States; but if you haven’t, it’s not too late. Clemson University has many resources for international students, including an office of International Services.
SOME SYMPTOMS OF CULTURE SHOCK
- Homesickness, loneliness, sadness
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Mood swings
- Health problems
- Loss of identity
STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH CULTURE SHOCK
Culture shock and the attendant feelings are natural and should ease, with time. However, you can take action to help combat culture shock. Maintain communication with family and friends back home, but also try to make new connections.
- Remind yourself it’s natural to suffer from culture shock.
- Surround yourself with photos and other items from home.
- Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep.
- Stay busy with your studies.
- Stay focused on your reasons for being here and your future goals.
Reach out to others in your program; talk to someone, maybe a sympathetic professor or international student organizations/clubs on campus. Consider joining one of the many churches in the Clemson area, or find a place to worship your own religion. The City of Clemson has an Islamic society, and the University has a Baha’i club. While you won’t find a Buddhist sangha or Hindu temple nearby, you can organize one through a Meetup group.
Clemson Clubs and Organizations
There are many clubs and organizations you can join at Clemson: clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/international/student-arrival/community.html. Some clubs and organizations are based on interests, majors or hobbies, and some are specifically for international students, graduate students or undergraduate students. Check them out and consider joining one. It’s a great way to get involved, meet people, make connections and share experiences!
Culture shock may not pass as quickly as you would like; however, you can accelerate the process by being aware of it and by taking actions that will ease your transition. Clemson University is here to help, so take advantage—and don’t forget to enjoy your adventure abroad!
Learn more about culture shock, clubs and organizations in Clemson, and general health and wellness information for international students on Healthy Campus’ website: clemson.edu/healthy-campus/international-students