Many students travel abroad to pursue their education or career opportunities. But there are a number of challenges involved in adjusting to a new environment. Students often face tremendous pressure to achieve academic success even when many of them live away from homes and have no support mechanisms in the form of family or relatives.
1. Prepare yourself: Moving to a different cultural setting can lead to a cultural shock, which can further lead to extreme homesickness. It is, therefore, a good idea to read up about the place in advance and prepare yourself. This can include watching videos to familiarise yourself with the accent, learning about their food habits, lifestyle, dress, climate, etc. Remember, familiarity helps in adapting to a new environment better.
2. Stay in touch with family: Migrating to a different cultural environment means moving away from home, including your family and friends who have all along been your support system. Even though it is a temporary stint, it is important for you to continue to stay in touch with your family on a regular basis. Keep in touch over phone, email or WhatsApp.
3. Adventure vs challenge: Adjusting to the new environment often takes time and unless you are prepared for it, it can impact your studies. It is important for you to consider the time you spend abroad as a learning opportunity, enjoy the novelty and cherish the experience.
4. Build a support system: Try and mix with as many people as possible and not stay aloof. You need to be proactive in your efforts, and try to understand the different lifestyles and cultural nuances. You should make it a point to assimilate in the new environment, make yourself and others feel comfortable. Make friends with locals and also try and learn the language if possible.
5. Go with an open mind: It is important to migrate to a new place with an open and flexible mind. Individual differences are inevitable within the same culture and get multiplied in a new cultural setting. Therefore, have realistic expectations, and learn to appreciate these differences, instead of dissociating yourself or isolating yourself from others. Be among people as far as possible.
6. Take care of yourself: Last, but not the least, do not forget to give yourself time.Adjusting to any new situation can be a struggle, and lead to enormous stress.Therefore, remember not to neglect yourself, and regularly take time out. Make sure you get adequate sleep and eat well.
The author is director, mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare