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Adjustment & Coping Strategies

Culture shock is a part of human nature and is to be expected.  It is a normal part of the adjustment process, and with time, the symptoms will dissipate as you become more comfortable with the new culture.  This process takes great patience, time and effort. Be assured that you will make it through and there are many resources for you to seek out if you continue to have difficulties or you need a little help adjusting to your new culture. Please contact the University Counseling Center (275-3113) for details on programs and strategies that can help with the cross-cultural adjustment process.

In addition, here are a few strategies to help you get through and cope with culture shock.

  • Find people to interact with.  Ask them questions about their lives and experiences.  This will help you to focus on a different perspective.  Don’t live in isolation from others.  Give them a smile or a small gift.  Invite people to have coffee or take a walk outside.
  • Surround yourself with familiar things, to make your environment pleasant and comforting.  Decorate your room, listen to familiar music, etc . Find a balance between your culture and your new surroundings.  It is important not to abandon your culture and keep your own identity.  Cross-cultural adjustment is finding that balance between the new and the old equally.
  • Slow down.  Simplify your daily tasks.  Relax.  Let everything ‘sink in’ once in awhile.  Take time out to adjust.
  • Develop patterns and habits.  Follow a routine each day to reestablish a feeling of familiarity.
  • Express your feelings.  Cry, laugh, sing, pray, create.
  • Be realistic, review your goals.  Allow yourself to make adjustments don’t criticize yourself for failures or scaling back your plans.
  • Keeping working on your language skills.  Don’t give up!
  • Confide in friends. If you don’t have friends yet, dedicate yourself to seeking some out.  Join a special interest club, participate in events.  Don’t give up.  It can take time and many attempts before you find a confidant.
  • Make a few small decisions and carry them out.  Resolving small things will help you to gain confidence.
  • Ask questions; don’t be afraid to try new things.  It is important to be open to new experiences when you are in a new culture.  If you are confused about something, ask how it is done in the U.S.  Most people will be pleased to teach you about their customs.
  • Gather information.  Books, movies, participation, observations.
  • Learn from your experiences.  You can compare your observations with your own cultural norms and values to help you get a better understanding of your new surroundings and your own culture.  Keep these questions in mind when interacting with your friends or community:
         -  How do different people greet each other?
         -  How do they make friends?  How do friends treat each other?
         -  Who respects who, and how is it shown?
         -  What attitudes do people have regarding their families?
         -  What is the relationship between males and females?
         -  What do people do in their spare time?
         -  How do they deal with disagreements?
         -  What are common elements of conversation?
  • Remember that thousands of people have come to Rochester from other countries and have survived.  Maintain your perspective.  Most people are happy here, you can be too!

Cultural adjustment becomes easier as you become more familiar with your surroundings and start to establish social connections.  Please explore our Life at UR section for additional information and resources.  There you will find details on social values and customs in the U.S., English language support, ways to connect with your community, and links to local options for worship, shopping, entertainment, and more!

For any issues or concerns you are experiencing, you are always welcome to contact the ISO!