You may be considering participating in an exchange program but wondering if you will adapt to the host country or perhaps you are already an exchange student and are having difficulties in this regard. Don’t worry: in this article we will give you some tips to help you overcome such difficulties and focus on getting the most out of this experience.
1. Understands the phenomenon of culture shock
The first thing you should know about this is that you are not alone: every person who is away from their country for a period of time experiences a phenomenon called cultural shockHe first feels excited to get to know the new country, but at a certain point this excitement turns into a rejection of it, as he begins to miss his homeland. However, when this person returns to his or her country, he or she feels that things have changed because he or she has incorporated elements of the host country into his or her personality.
It is at that point that adaptation takes place, but until that happens the culture shock sufferer will experience a number of symptoms such as isolation, headaches, stomachaches, irritability, anxiety, inability to concentrate and mood swings. Given the above, you must be patient with yourself as you are feeling symptoms that anyone in the same situation as you would experience; also, as noted, this experience will eventually strengthen you.
2. Keep in touch with your loved ones
Just because you are in another country does not mean that you cannot keep in touch with your family and friends back home. In fact, this is advisable and might even give you that breath of oxygen you need to remember that the exchange program and homeland sickness are temporary, as your homeland and loved ones will be there when you return.
3. Propose to meet new people
Without detracting from the above, it is also important that as an exchange student you focus on getting to know people in the host country. One of the reasons for homeland sickness is that family and friends are missed. Although the relationships we have with our loved ones are very special and cannot be replaced by others, you can develop personal bonds in the context of the exchange program with your host family, classmates, teachers, and others who come into your life through them, as well as those you meet on your own.
In fact, by frequenting certain places, you will meet people who do the same and you will gradually develop personal relationships with them. For example, if you drink coffee or eat at the same restaurant every day, you may end up making friends with the waiters or the owner of the restaurant. Likewise, if you exercise every day in the same place or go to a certain park, beach, etc., there you can meet people who have the same interests as you, who may end up being your friends and even something more.
4. Focus on what you like about your host country.
It is understandable that among other things you also miss the food of your country, as well as specific places, customs and traditions. In this regard, it is important to insist on the temporary nature of the exchange program: it will not last forever. Secondly, remember that every place has its charm. If you start focusing on the things you like about your host country, you will eventually grow fond of it. Therefore, take advantage of the time you will spend in that country to travel, make contacts, learn its culture and language, and participate in its traditions.
5. Be prepared to miss your host country.
By following the above tips, it is quite likely that you will end up liking your host country so much that when the days to return to your home country approach you will feel a mixture of emotions: on the one hand you will be happy to see your loved ones again, but on the other hand you may feel a sense of loss at having to be away from those with whom you forged a relationship during the exchange program. Likewise, you will no longer be near that café, beach, park or disco that you enjoyed so much as an exchange student. The recommendation in this regard is firstly to be aware that this is going to happen, and secondly, to understand that this is just one more reason for you to take advantage of every minute of your exchange program.
If you are interested in becoming an exchange student please contact us so we can help you.