Adapting to a New Culture | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

Main Content Start

Adapting to a New Culture

While traveling to a new place is exciting, it can also take time to adapt to the new culture.

Some aspects you may love right away and other parts of the culture, you learn to love or simply learn to accept. This is normal.

Keeping an Open Mind

When adapting to a new culture. it is important to keep an open mind. You will find differences between your home and the visiting country, but resist labeling one way of doing things better or worse than another. If you take a moment to take in your experience and ask questions to the people you meet, you will begin to understand life operates in your study abroad location.

Think Twice About Your Challenges

When you struggle with a certain aspect of a culture, consider why you are feeling that way. What is it about the situation that is frustrating or challenging? What are you expecting to happen?  Why do you think locals do things a certain way and what are the advantages of doing it their way? You can learn a lot from the challenges you endure while experiencing a new culture. 

Dealing with Stress

If you start to feel stressed or overwhelmed while abroad, give yourself time to calm down and remember that most don’t act their best when stressed. Many will experience a “culture shock” when traveling abroad. It can be helpful to talk to others in the same program or a program director to help work through the challenges of living abroad. Be patient with yourself.

Remember, those that you meet abroad have spent a lifetime learning their culture, and you just arrived!

Don't Forget your Initial Feelings of Excitement

When frustrated, confused, or stressed, remember the excitement felt when selecting a study abroad program and purchasing a plane ticket. Tap into that excitement again and experience the host country with an open mind. It can be a wonderful sense of accomplishment when successfully navigating and exploring a new culture.