How to deal with emotional and cultural differences

May 19, 2019 By Emily (Volunteer Blog Writer)
Stress (Student Life)    Adapt in different places (Culture)   


Being in the United States for the first time as a foreigner is very hard. As an international student studying in American college, I’ve had many problems. The English they speak here is completely different from what I’ve learned from textbook in high school. The food here has many diversities but I can’t find the exact flavor that I love from home. My college life was completely different than I imagined. I couldn’t find even any enthusiasm in my life at one point. If you can relate to the problems that I’ve been through, please continue to read this blog, where I will address 4 tips to help you cope with the cultural shock.


Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when you’re speaking English

When I first came to the US, I was afraid of speaking English. I always got tongue-tied because I was scared of making mistakes. However, being afraid of speaking English and do nothing about it won’t help with overcoming the fear. To master a language, it is important to practice. I learned a trick to help me start speaking English. When I’m outside running errands, I always try to talk with people and would begin with recent big events to start a conversation. Yes, you will make mistakes at first, but don’t be scared because no one is going to laugh at you. People won’t judge you just because your English is not perfect.


Learn how to cook

This might be a weird tip in some people’s eyes, but it is very helpful for me because I couldn’t find any food that is like my mom’s cooking in my town. Like a Chinese proverb says, you can always find the taste of home through food. I live in a town where there are some nice Chinese restaurants, but none of them is authentic for me, so I cook Chinese food when I have a craving for it, when I miss my friends of family in China, or when I just want to have Chinese food. It is especially helpful when I can duplicate dishes like my mom used to cook. It makes me feel like my mom is here with me to give me strength through them.


Step out of your comfort zone

For a period of time of my freshman year, I felt like I was all alone. I didn’t have many friends. I wasn’t paying attention to my classes. All I did was staying in my room and playing video games. One of my friends found out I was having a difficult time. She started taking me to different places to meet new people. She would always ask me if I wanted to go out and have dinner with her and her friends or if I wanted to come along to one of the club events she was attending. At first, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. I would refuse her, but when I actually stepped out of room and communicate with people, I felt alive again. I started to go to social activities that I was uncomfortable and nervous with in the past. I started to feel like myself again. It would help a lot if you would step out of your comfort zone and do new things that you’ve never tried before. Little by little, you feel the excitement in your life and you will love your life more.


Seek professional help

If you feel like you’re going through some mental problems, do not be scared of going to the university psychologist for help. Search information of mental health resources in your university and make contact with them. Also, don’t be ashamed of having psychological diseases. This doesn’t not mean that you’re inferior to other people. It just means that you have a normal disease right now that you need to go to the doctor to treat it. It is just like when you have fever, you go to the doctors. The only difference is that you are treating your psychological problems. Therefore, don’t be afraid to visit psychiatrists and seek help. Let the professionals help with the emotional and psychological problems that you are dealing with.


Volunteer Writer’s Bio:

Originally from Beijing and attending at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Emily can write and share various aspects of being an international student in America. She told us she wants to be helpful for other students. We are very grateful with her contribution and looking forward to her next article.  



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