Denis Odera, from Kenya is a third year student at the University of Portsmouth studying Computer Games Enterprise 

Moving to a different area for your studies can be very difficult, especially if it’s a location that you have never been to before. Many questions may go through your mind regarding your studies, your social life or even how you will begin to get around. Immediately after you come into contact with a new environment, chances are you will be hit with culture shock.

This blog post will share some of my own past experiences of culture shock and offer you some suggestions on how to overcome it and adjust to life as a new university student in the UK.

Suggestion #1 – Be open-minded

When I first arrived at university, I came in a few weeks late due to some flight issues. I had never been to the UK before and I was extremely scared; everything seemed different. Culture shock was inevitable as I found it difficult to adjust to different aspects of UK society. Language, accents, mannerisms and even the food caught me off guard to start with.

One of the most effective ways to overcome culture shock is to try and be open-minded. Treat everything new as a chance to gain knowledge about the culture. Not only does this make it easier to deal with, but you may also find certain things that you may like. Turn the shock into a learning experience or even treat it like an adventure, because to be honest, that’s what it is!

Suggestion #2 – Ask questions  

Since I was a new international student, my biggest fear was standing out amongst a completely different culture. Unfortunately, this led to me keeping to myself and not really coming to terms with my new surroundings. If there is one thing I wish I did more of, it would be asking questions. University life can be difficult from the beginning and majority of the people around you know this. You’d be surprised how much people will be willing to help you. If you don’t ask any questions, you’re not going to get any answers.

Suggestion #3 – Make friends and establish connections

Culture shock has less of an effect if you are with people around you. This is particularly better if you are alongside other students also in the same boat, as you can go through the process together. Making friends in university is very important, especially at the beginning as those friendships play a big part of your university experience. It is a huge relief to know that you are not the only one going through culture shock. Making friends not only makes it easier to deal with but also goes a long way in improving your social skills that will benefit your university experience as a whole.

Suggestion #4 – Embrace your own culture

The University is filled with students of different cultures and backgrounds. In some cases, some cultures may have certain similarities with others. Do not shy away from your own culture as people may find an interest in things such as your hobbies, the foods you eat, the languages you speak and much more. Adjusting to university life is a big step in your future career plans and dreams, the best way to do it is to just be yourself.

It is definitely not easy dealing with culture shock, but it is important to know that there are people always available to help you. Your university will have student advisors and support on campus. You can always go to them for advice.