Coming to live in a new country can make you feel disoriented and upset, as you are faced with unfamiliar surroundings and a different way of life.This is often called culture shock, and can be described simply as the stress of transition. Things like a new time zone and a time difference with your friends and family back home, as well as new foods, social practices, unfamiliar sights such as lots of road traffic, and even the UK getting dark early in the winter months can cause feelings of culture shock. This blog written by an international student outlines some other things that could cause culture shock upon arriving in the UK. It’s well worth a read.
It can sometimes be difficult to recognise when you are experiencing culture shock, but it can feature feelings of confusion, isolation and low confidence, perhaps followed by anger and hostility before starting to feel more at home. These symptoms might also affect you at times you don’t expect – it won’t necessarily be as soon as you reach the UK. Check out this resource from the UK Council for International Student Affairs for a detailed model of culture shock and how you might be feeling and other useful resources, as well as this article from Tofugu for a list of other symptoms and ways to tackle them.
Academically you might also find that your university timetable here in the UK has fewer contact hours than you are used to at home. Whilst this can be challenging to adapt to, there are lots of resources to help you manage your time and get used to the new way of learning. Most UK students will also be adapting to new ways of learning, so you can lean on each other for support and know that you’re not alone. Fewer contact hours also means more time for your independent study and reading, as well as part time work or doing the things you love, like socialising and volunteering.
Whilst culture shock isn’t a good feeling, it is completely normal for people to feel this way when they move to a new country, and not a sign that you have done anything wrong. It’s also a feeling that disappears over time.