Ohio University

Adjusting and Resources

If you are already abroad or away - congratulations! You've made it! We hope you have a positive, life-changing experience. For those of you who haven't left yet, it's a good idea to think ahead and prepare for what it will be like during your experience. Keep reading for information and resources on adjusting while you are away.

Culture Shock and Adjustment 

What is culture shock? It is not quite as "shocking" or as sudden as the term may imply. Basically, it is the realization that many of your presumptions about the world and the way to get along may not always be accurate in another culture. It is also a deep and sometimes disturbing recognition that you are far from home, and you feel a growing sense that the rules you have learned your whole life do not apply.It is important to remember that this shock is part of adaptation and a very normal process. These are feelings that are commonly experienced by anyone going through a major transition. Even those who regularly travel abroad can experience this! It’s normal - try not to let the negative feelings cloud your entire experience.  

The "shock" is not a single moment but rather a growing emotional, physical, and mental awareness. It often happens in phases (see below) that cycle many times throughout your program. You may experience all or none of the phases - that’s normal too! 

  • Honeymoon Phase: You will have great expectations and a positive mindset. Anything new is intriguing and exciting; new sights, new tastes, new smells, etc. Early problems are usually masked by the many tasks and adjustments that your student has to make. This phase may last from a few days to a few weeks. 

  • Rejection Phase: You begin struggle to perform daily tasks because of the differences in language, housing, friends, or schoolwork. You may become aggressive and begin to complain about the new country and culture. You may begin to reject the new country and only notice the bad things that bother you. 

  • Regression Phase: You may begin to indulge in their own culture by only speaking English, eating food from home, and only socializing with people from your own culture. You may continue to complain about every aspect of the new country/culture and only remember the good things about your home country/culture. You may begin to remember home as a wonderful place where nothing ever went wrong and often question why you left. You may have feelings of anxiety, sadness, and homesickness and may be affected by these feelings through compulsive eating/drinking, change in sleep patterns, or irritability. 

  • Adaptation Phase: You will become more comfortable with the language and customs on the new country. You will become accustomed to the culture and begin to realize that no country is that much better than another, just different. You will become more comfortable with the new place, the new food, the new customs and will find your sense of humor begin to return. 

  • Reverse/Return Phase: You may experience symptoms upon return to the U.S. You may feel depressed and miss the country and friends you have left behind. You may feel that no one understands or cares about what they have experienced. You may come home with different perspectives and views about their culture and lifestyle. You  might feel like a stranger in their home and become irritated and critical others and American culture.

Remember…everyone is different! Not everyone will experience all of the phases of culture shock. Some will experience the phases in different orders and for different lengths of time. If you’re having trouble, always reach out for help. 

Financial aid disbursement 

If you are participating in a non-OHIO credit program or OHIO Exchange, your financial aid typically will not disburse to you until you have arrived onsite and complete your Verification of Enrollment (VOE) form. If you have financial aid, you will have a hold on your MyOHIO Student Center account (Verification of Enrlt) asking to complete the Verification of Overseas Enrollment form to show that you are studying abroad.

NOTE: Remember, if you are participating in a OHIO Exchange or CISabroad program, your VOE will be completed by your coordinator in OGO. 

Identity  

How you identify yourself may be different than how other identify you - especially while abroad. You identity can be your race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, political views, language, physical appearance and more. According to Diversity Issues in Study Abroad (Brown University), 43% of people still say the most important factor that influenced treatment is your identity as an American. Whether this is something you see as being a large part of your identity or not, it is important to understand your host culture’s perception of Americans.  

Visit our “My identity” pages for diversity and identity resources for different populations. 

Sharing your experience 

Many students journal their experiences. Writing down your experiences will help you process your time. Start small - global programs can be a whirlwind - you’ll thank yourself later for jotting down even a few notes about your most memorable experiences. Writing not your thing? Explore other mediums such as photography, videography, drawing, mindmapping, and more! Below are some prompts to get your creative juices flowing: 

  • “I want to remember...”: Did something special happen or did you have a poignant observation? Capture those “aha!”moments. 

  • Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow: Take this prompt in any direction - perhaps exploring yourself, a place, or your knowledge/understanding of something 

  • Top 10: Everyone loves a list- what are your favorite moments, foods, places, phrases, etc.?  

If you have a passion for travel and culture, you could be the perfect Office of Global Opportunities Global Correspondent! Open to ALL students going on global programs (international and domestic)! As a Global Correspondent, you will get published, turn your experience into valuable skills, share your story, keep in contact with friends and family, and inspire others to start their adventure. Correspondents will be accepted on a rolling basis. Email global.opportunities@ohio.edu if you’re interested! 

Don’t forget to tag us! @OHIOGoGlobal

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