To travel the world on your own can be a bit scary. You need to cope by yourself, and be responsible for food and a lot of practical things in your life, and to manage without parents or family around, even when you need them. Even though you have been looking forward to this, you may experience the occasional homesickness. Perhaps living here is quite different from what you prepared for
May emotions may occur when you’re alone in your room. Do you feel lonely or miss friends or a girlfriend/boyfriend? Perhaps some sort of grief over not being at home anymore? Taking care of every aspect of your life is a huge responsibility. Do you miss that someone is making dinner for your, saying good night or even nagging about things.
To some, missing a boyfriend or girlfriend is the hardest of all, while others feel insecure or alone. Some miss just being young and irresponsible, others have some second thoughts about the decision to move and start these studies. This may in turn give a sense of being depressed or sad.
Seek help before making hasty decisions you may regret later. The student counsellors are here for you.
Some key advice are: – Establish good routines concerning studies, food and sleep. – Work steadily. If you start thinking that this is awful, just give it a few more weeks and things usually turn out better. If you fall behind in your studies you will have yet another argument to quit. – Dare to be the first to make contact to build up a social network – remeber that the others will more likely want to have friends, too.– Det kan være lurt å ikke bo alene. – create a more kozy athmosphare in your room, so that you will enjoy being there. – Practise enjoying your own company – To some, staying too close in touch with people you miss back home, will reinforce the homesickness. Reducing contact may not be such a bad idea. – Try change your focus to think not only about missing people or your sadness, but rather how much you look forward to seeing them again later. – If you had any hobbies back home, you should keep doing them also here. Join activities, organisations, study groups, etc.
- Culture and Cross-Cultural Adaptation
Many international students experience varying degrees of cultural transition when they first arrive in Norway. This often can include culture shock. Culture shock is a state of distress and bewilderment experienced by individuals exposed to new, strange, or foreign cultures. People experience culture shock in different ways, some with more anxiety than others. It helps to remember that this is a normal reaction to changes in your physical, social and cultural environment. You are not alone in your feelings of distress.
There is a general cycle of emotional states you experience when you enter a new culture. The stages of this cycle vary from one person to another in intensity and duration. Understanding the
stages can help you to realise that they are a normal reaction to unusual circumstances, and may assist you in adjusting to your new environment. It is also helpful to keep in mind that your own sense of cultural identity is often not evident until you encounter another culture.
When you first arrive, everything is new, interesting, and exciting. You are filled with expectations of what your year here will be like, and it is fun to explore your new environment.
After some time you realise that adjusting to the new culture requires some effort. This work may be very stressful for you. Your expectations may not have been met and you may experience a strong reaction to being here. At this time you may feel increasingly homesick and miss your family, familiar foods, and familiar surroundings. This stage is characterised by students feeling isolated, bewildered, irritated, depressed, or uncomfortable.
Feelings of apprehension, loneliness, or a lack of confidence may grow. Your sense of identity may be challenged and differences in culture may be experienced as threatening. It is common for individuals to come to a point where they reject the host culture (in this instance Norwegian culture) and withdraw into themselves. This stage is characterised by the student making generalisations about Norwegian culture and feeling that his or her home culture is far superior. It is common to focus on the differences rather than to look for what is similar between the two cultures. To combat this, it can help you to actively seek out, or focus on, what aspects your home culture and the new host culture share.
As you acquire a better understanding of the host culture, you will begin to feel more comfortable in your environment. Things start to make more sense, your self-confidence grows and you feel more at home. The process of understanding this new culture is continuous as you discover varying nuances and internal variations during your time here.
Tips for coping with transition
* Making friends with Norwegians will lead to a better understanding of Norwegian culture
* Language is very much connected to culture. Making an effort to learn Norwegian will give you the opportunity to interact with native Norwegians. They will be very pleased that you are showing an interest in their culture through language!
* Get involved in student activity groups, particularly those where Norwegian students also participate
* Balance your academic and non-academic activities
* Exercise and eat balanced meals…take vitamins!
Seek help if at any point you find adjusting here to be overwhelming, or that it begins to affect your work, sleep, or eating habits. The International Student Counsellor at the Student Counselling Centre have experience in assisting students through this transition.