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Cultural Adjustment

International students often arrive feeling excited to experience the newness of life in Chicago and to begin their academic program. However, over the course of time communicating in a new language, being separated from family and friends, adjusting to different ways of doing things and the unfamiliarity of new surroundings can become difficult and overwhelming.  It is not uncommon for students to feel isolated or depressed and to want to withdraw.

We are here to remind you that you are not alone and that the feelings you are experiencing are completely normal!  Sociologists use the term culture shock to describe the anxiety or disorientation individuals feel when encountering an unfamiliar culture for an extended period of time.  Adjustment is a process that takes time and one that we want to help with!

Here are things to do to aid in you through your adjustment:

  • Keep a sense of humor. Have fun comparing cultural differences between countries using this tool.
  • Participate in a Student Life and Engagement eventstudent organization or student affinity group.  Connecting with other students adjusting to life in Chicago from out of town, out of state or from overseas helps to normalize the ups and downs of adjustment.
  • Talk through your feelings.  Try to avoid isolation by talking to other students, your professors or Rush University Counseling Center.
  • Take care of your health. Exercise, get enough sleep and eat a balanced meal.
  • Reserve judgment and don’t be afraid to ask questions.