Tips to overcome cultural shock upon arrival in the US

culture shock usa

The United States is a melting pot of cultures. But still, if you’re coming to the US for the first-time, you may feel overwhelmed and experience ‘American Cultural Shock’. This is a common experience that most students face while entering a new setting that is different from their home country but the symptoms vary from person to person. For instance, some may feel lack of confidence, melancholy, and loss of identity or insomnia, to name a few. To overcome cultural shock upon arrival in the US, here are a few tips.

Ways to deal with culture shock

Get involved

cope with culture shockAt first, you are bound to feel a bit apprehensive but if you push yourself, go out and make friends, you are likely to feel more comfortable in the new environment. Getting involved in an activity club gives you the opportunity to meet new people who share common interests. To not feel as an outsider, you can take part in the local community work, social activities or volunteer at an NGO. Not only will you be giving back to the society but you will also make new friends that would eventually make your adjusting process easy and seamless.


Learn about the US

Research online and read through news reports, travel guidebooks, blogs or forums. Better yet, talk to people staying there or who have been there and gain an insight into the general culture, social norms, rules, etiquettes and other helpful things. Example: the usage of the phrase “how are you” is more common than saying ‘hello’. Being on time in the US is crucial; it is considered rude to be late.  When first introduced to someone, you should be addressed and address as Miss, Mr, Ms. Mrs. followed by surname. If he/she is a child, you may address them by first name. Knowing these cultural nuances beforehand will be highly helpful in learning how to greet people in various social settings.

Stay in touch with family and friends back home

overcome culture shockWith digital technology, staying in touch is just a click-away! You can chat with your family and friends back home through Skype, Google hangout and other social media platforms. (Or phone; but it may be a bit heavy on your pocket!). Being in constant touch with friends and family members can help you combat the feeling of loneliness to some extent (if not much). Better yet, you can make your dorm room like back home – adorn your walls with pictures of family and friends, put some posters with positive message, etc.


Be receptive and open-minded

One of the best ways to overcome cultural shock is to be open-minded and non-judgemental. Come out of your shell and experience the culture of the new place instead of focussing your energy on the difference in culture or norms as followed back home. You can be a part of fun activities, clubs or organizations that will put you in contact with local and international students which will definitely help you to understand and embrace the new culture.

Embrace the new culture with all that it has to offer. It is advisable to see things from the eyes of the host country!

Share your feelings with others

This is perhaps the most important tip of all!  The longer you keep feelings bottled up, the more you are bound to feel anxious and lonely. Sharing your feelings with others will help you feel relaxed and you will be able to cope with the cultural differences in no time. Talk to fellow students or join an expat community who are going through similar feelings and learn about the strategies they use to handle the variations. You can also seek advice from your university’s counsellors who help international students deal with the new surroundings.


Make a routine

As you’re new to the US, experiencing many different feelings at the same time is bound to make you feel overwhelmed. To combat this feeling, it is best to make a routine and follow it to the core. This will definitely help you to be more confident, stable and positive about the new country and culture. Stay calm and treat everything with a reasonable point-of-view.

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