Adjust yourself to a New Culture

Getting admission from IU and moving to IU for your selected program is a great journey ever for any international student- I am not an exception ☺ Hurayyyyyyyyyyyyy, the competitive application process finally ends! Bloomington here I come! IU here I come ☺ That’s SO VERY exiting! To make your IU experiences more rewarding, I would bring about some issues of culture shock to your attention – international students.

From my personal experiences, I don’t meet with culture shock socially as everyone respects who I am and where I am from. I am very happy to be a part of a diverse IU community where students come from all 50 states and more than 130 countries. IU is a culturally rich and ethnically diverse campus. However, I was shocked in the first few days attending classes in the first school week and I would love to share some of these experiences with international students.

The first challenge is the language barrier. No matter how good your English is, you might find it very hard to fully catch up what the professor lectures in class in the first few days/weeks. You are also given tons of homework, assignments, readings that are all in English while your native language is not English. Lame! If only all is written in your native language, life would be so much easier ☺ But don’t worry too much about it. Part of the experience in IU is for you to improve your English. What an incredible opportunity! So, just take it easy…think of it this way: when you comeback to your home country, everyone will admire your improved English 😉

Second, the class is so interactive, especially between professors and students. While one-way lecture style is still popular in some Asian countries, I believe many Asian students including me are not well trained to actively engage in class discussions. I have the ideas, they are very clear and well structured…But those ideas are just all in my mind and I don’t feel comfortable speaking up. This is really frustrating!!! And, if you are ever in this situation, just please don’t push yourself too hard… Just be nice to yourself, naturally you will learn how to engage effectively in the lecture.

Third, the lecture contents for some classes are very “American”. For instance; one of the lectures for my nonprofit management class is about American election and its effects on NGOs. I have some ideas about American election, but I am sure I am way behind American students as it comes to this topic. Also, have you ever feel dumb when the whole class laughs at the professors’ joke but you don’t know what’s going on? I had that experiences several times ☺ But, you certainly can ask the Professor about the joke after class if you really want to know what it is about…And aren’t the “American based” lectures also helpful for us to learn more about America? ☺

Only several personal experiences for sharing, but I am sure you will do great. IU offers so many excellent student support services that are there to help you through all the adaptation stages. Just accept the differences, have an open mind and adjust yourself to adapt with the new environment. These will help to make IU an incredible home away from home. Below you would find very helpful advice from IU Office of International Services:

Ways to Minimize the Impact of Culture Shock:
• Look for logical reasons for things in the host culture that seem different. Relax your grip on your own culture.
• Resist “looking down on” or making jokes and comments about the host culture. Avoid others who take part in such derogatory remarks.
• Talk about your feelings with a sympathetic and understanding friend or see a Foreign Student Advisor in the Office of International Services to talk about your feelings.
• When you hear yourself making negative judgments or generalizations, stop and try to view the situation objectively—without value judgments.
• Take care of your physical health. Eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, and, most importantly, get some exercise every day (take a regular walk if nothing else).

Deena R. Levine and Mara B. Adelman, Office of International Service, accessed 12/2012