Studying Far and Wide: The Shock of Culture

No matter where you go in the world to study, whether it’s to the other side of the globe or the other side of the country, there is bound to be some form of culture shock in one way or another. Going to study abroad in another country can be an incredibly exciting experience, and when it is make sure you treasure those moments. However, there will be times when you realize that you’re not at home anymore. Things you thought would be new, exotic and original have the possibility of becoming maybe a little bit too different and leaving you a rather frustrated and homesick. Every continent, every country, even every state is different and getting used to it can prove difficult if you’re not prepared. When you take that first step into a new country as a young student everything is bound to seem a little strange: the food, the transport as well as your studies and new college. Obviously, if you’ve grown up and lived in the same town for your whole life, you are used to the values and ideals of that particular culture, so trying to adapt to foreign culture can create a mixture of emotion. 


Differences across the world are varied, whether they are huge differences between the U.S and Asia or simply smaller differences between states or moving from a small town to a big city. Firstly, and most obviously, the language barrier can be a huge shock. It is the main thing that separates the world, and most people see language as a beautiful thing. However, if you are not studying a particular language, you may often find yourself a little bit stuck. Trying to talk to locals or trying to figure out street signs on your way to class is bound to start off a little awkwardly, that is until you start to know your way around and start picking up some simple phrases to get by. 


Even if you are going to study in an English speaking country, the reality of other cultures can also be a surprise. Standard and way of living can differ greatly country-to-country; you can never expect the same ways of life no matter what language they speak. Food is another main difference across the world, as it is unlikely for you to find home comforts once you’re away from home. Trying local cuisine is a must to be able to become more familiar with a different culture, but your favorite home-cooked meal is unlikely to be found. Instead, just dig into some of that real Italian pizza or French cheese. 

Phases of Cultural Adjustment:

There are various phases of adjusting to different cultures once you’ve chosen to study in another country. It begins with the initial euphoria, beginning with the excitement of arriving in the new country and ending as the excitement eventually wears off. The irritability phase is introduced if certain aspects of everyday life become difficult to get used to, as everything still feels new and different and, well, foreign. You will begin to focus on simply the differences between home and your new country, and sometimes even the little difficulties will appear major to you. Therefore the culture shock can be a little bit too overwhelming and difficult to handle for some. When things do become too much, it may be easy to take a wrong turn if you are unable to deal with the pressures of culture shock alongside the pressure of further education. No matter what you have turned to, returning home is always a possibility due to the number of recovery programs in California and across the U.S. However, if able to progress through this phase, then gradual adjustment and adaptation can be achieved. The differences will minimize, and you will begin to be fascinated with your new home, enjoying the culture, cuisine and learning the language. 

Easing Cultural Shock:

Most people will naturally experience some form of culture shock in a variety of proportions, but mostly you will be able to handle the differences from home and adapt to your new country with no problems. Travelling with a genuine interest in the culture that you are staying in for your studies is imperative, as if you have no interest then you will be more reluctant to try new things; so an open mind is imperative to begin an unforgettable experience. Also, as long as you are prepared for things to be different and you are not expecting everyday life to be exactly the same, then any differences you come across will not be as drastic as they first seem. Studying abroad should be an amazing and exciting experience, and the thought of culture shock should not put you off trying something new.

by Jennifer Mann

Benefits of Studying Languages Abroad

There is often much reluctance from students to go and study abroad; however there are many obvious advantages to studying languages in other countries, making it an experience that many students should take if given the opportunity. Not only do most Colleges offer years abroad, but students do also have the chance to take their entire University career across the world if they wish to, which is not something everyone knows about when deciding where to further their studies. Especially when taking a language as your major, situating yourself in that particular country and immersing yourself within their culture can really enhance your understanding and learning. We all know that over the last few years Colleges have been filling up, and filling up fast to say the least. Spare places in Colleges across the country are becoming incredibly difficult to come across, so with institutions filling quickly to the brim why don't language students consider the higher education opportunities around the world? In many aspects, it simply makes sense to take your chosen language studies abroad, to learn French in France or Spanish in Spain.

Standing Out, On Your Own Two Feet:

Most importantly, studying abroad looks amazing on a CV and will enhance your later job prospects and possibilities, as studying abroad will make you stand out as an ambitious and driven individual. Firstly, it is a great conversational topic with future employees as they will most definitely be interested in your experience, what it has taught you and how you can bring what you have learnt into future work. Employers will see the time abroad as a true sign of independence and initiative, proving you have the ability to cope on your own in unfamiliar surroundings, while learning at the same time.

Learn and Travel:

Learning abroad will also give you the once in a lifetime opportunity of travelling while studying at the same time; a chance not many people decide to take up. You’re obviously not tied to the city where you are attending your classes, but you have an entire new country to explore. This is an excellent advantage for language students, as you’re skills and knowledge will be consistently put into practice. Navigating yourself around a foreign country will really enhance understanding of the language, and interaction with the locals will only enrich and develop conversational technique. It will also highly increase your ability to become fluent in your chosen language, quicker than you think. Depending on where you decide to go, you may also have the possibility of visiting nearby countries, ensuring that you gain the best cultural, historical and educational experience.


Making sure that you are prepared for this experience is essential. Studying abroad doesn’t have to be any more costly than studying at home. You’ll just need to make sure you’ve done your research and your math. Remembering the all-important things from accommodation costs and tuition fees, to varying living costs and exchange rates. Many Colleges have overseas campuses, which are likely to have accommodation and tuition costs that are no different to studying in the US. But if you just have a look around, there is plenty to help you. From seeing if you are eligible for financial support, to shopping around for the best book deals and supplies. Don’t let the thought of money put you off at all; as it is likely that you’re only major costs will be the travel to actually get there. But anyone who has done it before will agree that it is worth it.


Teaching English as a Foreign Language courses can be taken all over the world. But it is a wonder why all students don’t take themselves to another country to complete the process. After all, it seems a much bigger jump to take all education in your home country and to then to try and look for your first job abroad. As you will be living in a non-English speaking country, it only makes sense for you to take this as an opportunity to begin setting up your new life in a new country.

As long as you have the money for accommodation and living costs, there is nothing stopping you from going out there weeks or even months before your TEFL course to really immerse yourself with your new surroundings. It will then become a much easier transition when it comes to taking on this very intensive four-week course, and eventually your teaching career. You will be able to become accustomed to the culture and way of life in the country you have decided to go to, which is often seen as the biggest challenge of moving abroad, as every single country has its very own unique culture and set of values.
By Jennifer Mann.