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Diagnosing culture shock

A recurring trend is leading millions of students from all over the world to pack their school bags, say goodbye to their family and friends and wonder off to flock universities in the USA, UK, Australia, China, Germany and other attractive destinations. After landing their target country, many start to develop a very strange sensation which many doctors in their country haven’t been able to give a clear diagnosis of.

If you’ve just arrived in a new land and have been feeling a little confused, dizzy, out of place or awkward, you might be experiencing culture shock. Culture shock as well as reverse culture shock are very common phenomenons faced by many international students while making their dream come true and studying abroad. Culture shock is part of the four stages of cultural adjustment in a new country. Here are some questions to ask yourself while looking for common signs and symptoms to help you diagnose the problem.

Are you distracted?
Overdosing on information is one of the most common symptoms of culture shock and can cause  some serious distraction. Learning about a new place which you've never been to is extremely exciting and thrilling. Tasting new foods, discovering the coolest neighborhoods, getting used to the currency differences or ordering coffee in the spoken language is all a part of that experience. Getting introduced to all of this new information is intensely stimulating and before you know it, you’ve overdosed.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is extremely fun! It is also the cause of travel addiction many wanderers experience, causing them to get on flights to new destinations over and over again. So why are you feeling so weird? Well, living in a constantly distracting reality can be quite exhausting over a long period of time. On the positive side though, once you recognize that your tiredness is just a result of culture shock, you're guaranteed to feel better.
Are you feeling awkward in social situations?

Not knowing what’s the right and wrong way to act in social situations is normal when arriving in a new country. Different cultures have very different social norms and to add on to that, there may also be a language barrier.
Standing out as a foreigner when you first arrive can be fun, but after a few months of trying to integrate, it might get a little annoying to be the strange, different one.
Do you miss your family and friends at home?
Feeling homesick is an integral part of living abroad as well as culture shock. Missing your home will lead you to idealize even the things that you didn't really like and sometimes even stereotype the new culture that you are living in. You’ll probably want to talk to your family and friends way more than you even did while you were at home and before you know if Facetime, Skype and Watsapp will become your best friends.

Don't worry, this is completely normal and happens to a lot of students who move abroad. Once you settle down and find some new friends you'll feel much better.
Do you find yourself obsessing over the culture that you’re in?
Many people choose either one of two approaches when entering a new culture – either become it or block it. In both cases, the result is that you end up obsessing over this new culture, for the good or the bad.
Those who choose to become like “one of them”, will do everything they can to dress, talk and act the way they see locals do. This group usually consists of fast adapters who are not afraid to learn and be influenced by the new culture that they are in.   
On the other end of the spectrum are the deniers – those who aren’t so keen on letting go of who they are or feel that the new influences are a threat to their own identity. These people will normally stigmatize the new place that they are living in, the culture and the way people behave. They will also have a harder time when trying to fit in, and might even find themselves living in the expat bubble, surrounded by people who moved abroad just like them in places that feel more like home.
If you answered positive to three out of the four questions asked above, you have most likely been experiencing culture shock. If this is true, the best tip we could give you is to try to surrender to the feeling of not always having control. Try to embrace the differences in culture and language that the new country you are in has to offer. Only with an open mind, can you really allow yourself to integrate and get the true studying abroad experience.

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