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### Mastering the Art of Adapting: Navigating Culture Shock When Studying or Returning from Abroad

This article is authored by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

Each semester, students embark on journeys to and from study abroad destinations, seeking to glean knowledge from fresh encounters with diverse experiences, locations, and individuals. Whether students are venturing to Paris or Madrid for a semester of study or returning home, encountering culture shock is a prevalent phenomenon.

For instance, residing in Madrid may present surprises such as indulging in a few beers during lunch, embracing daily siestas, or prioritizing relationships over work, which can be startling for students accustomed to the fast-paced lifestyle of the United States.

Consequently, many travelers may grapple with emotions like anxiety, homesickness, and possibly even depression stemming from navigating an unfamiliar milieu with distinct cultural practices. It is imperative to recognize that experiencing these emotions is a natural part of the adjustment process and should not be stigmatized.

Nevertheless, it is essential not to allow these sentiments to hinder the enjoyment of the overseas experience. Coping with culture shock involves acknowledging it as a form of “acculturative stress,” viewing it not solely as a negative encounter but as a journey of stress and adaptation. The trajectory of acculturative stress spans from the initial euphoria akin to a honeymoon phase, to the apprehension of acclimating to new surroundings, to eventual adjustment and acceptance.

Strategies to attain the state of acceptance encompass engaging in activities to divert attention from the unfamiliar environment. Keeping oneself occupied not only aids in managing these emotions but also facilitates acclimatization by immersing in the local customs and behaviors through outdoor exploration.

Establishing connections with fellow students or acquaintances familiar with the surroundings can facilitate the adjustment process. Building a support system by confiding in peers and individuals can provide an outlet for expressing emotions.

Seeking guidance from mental health professionals is a valuable recourse for receiving feedback and recommendations. It is also acceptable to seek solace in familiar comforts from home, such as indulging in foods that evoke a sense of familiarity.

Furthermore, delving into personal motivations for embarking on the journey abroad can offer clarity and purpose during the experience.

By employing these tactics, students can swiftly grasp the significance of the behaviors they encounter in the new environment.

Lastly, it is crucial to bear in mind that these emotions are transient and that immersing oneself in a new community presents an exhilarating opportunity. Embrace the notion that travel is a privilege, and exploring new cultures serves as a profound avenue for comprehending the world we inhabit.