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How to adapt to a new country

May 16, 2024 - 4 min read

Studying in a new country can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Besides getting a great education, it is an opportunity to experience living in a new country. While moving overseas is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. You might feel confused because everything is unfamiliar. This is culture shock.

Culture shock is normal and you can get over it. Don’t let worrying about it stop you from choosing to move overseas.

‘My first year at Deakin was nothing that one would imagine,’ Tilak tells us. ‘I was dealing with culture shock.’ He thought about giving up on his dream of an international education and moving home to study. ‘As an international student, fully feeling home, it takes time to get there. I realised that being in Australia wasn’t just about the study experience. I was in the right place because of the kind of people I had connected with.’

Deakin can help you adapt to a new environment and way of life.

One strategy for overcoming culture shock is to make friends. Living in Deakin’s on-campus accommodation can provide this opportunity. ‘Being in a foreign country and commencing university was indeed challenging for me,’ psychology student Vi, from Vietnam, says. ‘Living at Deakin Res certainly made things easier for me. I have met great friends, learned many things about the world. And before I knew it, Melbourne feels like home to me.’

CeCe struggled with her first year in Melbourne

Tilak feels not moving home was the right choice

Another strategy is to maintain some familiarity with home. Australia is a multi-cultural country and you will be able to find food and other items that are familiar to you. ‘There are so many Asian markets with authentic products,’ says Adzrah, originally from Jakarta. ‘I still drink my favorite brand of coffee, and I just found my favorite massage oil that I always used at home. It’s a lot more expensive here but I can still get it.’ You will be able to practice your religion. You will be able to find people to talk with in your language. But make sure you branch out beyond your comfort zone – you don’t want to miss out on the true Australian experience!

If you need more structured support, Deakin has support services that can help you adapt to a new environment and way of life.

CeCe had a similar experience to Tilak when she moved from Vietnam. ‘My arrival in Melbourne was not a really fun experience,’ she says. ‘The change of environment was too overwhelming.’

Both CeCe and Tilak sought help through Deakin to make their transition to Australia easier. ‘Deakin has very good support services,’ Tilak says. ‘Student advisers reach out. I got solutions to problems that I never thought of.’

‘The counsellor was really nice,’ CeCe recalls. ‘She actually gave me time to adapt myself to the new counselling service, not letting me feel overwhelmed. I’ve gained a lot of confidence and Deakin has been helping me a lot.’

Though culture shock can be a struggle, learning to overcome it can be a valuable growth experience.  Subiksha refers to Deakin’s ‘cultural integration programs, and opportunities to connect with peers and local communities’ as things that helped her. ‘I feel that the experiences in Australia have facilitated personal growth. Navigating new environments, and facing challenges contribute to my overall personal development.’

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* 2022 Student Experience Survey, based on undergraduate students, UA benchmark group Victorian universities.
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^^ 2022 Student Experience Survey, UA benchmark group Victorian universities.
# Australian Graduate Outcomes Survey 2016–2022 (GOS), Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT).

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