Overcoming Culture Shock When Studying in Canada
Author: Nolan Clack, Guest Blogger.
Many students who choose to study in Canada will experience at some point what is referred to as “culture shock.”
When you first arrive in Canada, everything will be pretty lively and exciting. From the new smells, new sceneries, new food, and coming from Vietnam to study in Canada – much quieter than you are used to. The first stage is often so overwhelming with joy that culture shock has not yet set in.
In the second stage, which in this case is “culture shock,” it is possible that you begin to feel out of place or uneasy about your new environment. In many cases, international students who come to study in Canada will go through the same experience as you, and it is part of the exciting journey of living abroad.
However, don’t let this dissuade you from considering studying in Canada! In fact, there are many great reasons to experience culture shock as it is a stepping stone to your own personal growth journey.
To prepare you for your exciting new journey to study in Canada, we’ve compiled a list that we believe will help make the transition to a Canadian culture feel closer to home.
Be sure to ask questions! Canadians are incredibly friendly people and welcome international students from all around the world. Yes, it might be a bit daunting to do at first, but as Canadians, we can guarantee that you will be surprised at how much people are willing to help you. As time goes by during your studies in Canada, you will come to notice that helping people is deeply ingrained in Canadian culture.
While this tip might be a bit more complex to comprehend, it’s essential to try to understand how and why Canadians act the way we do. Our behaviors and customs of life are quite different from yours, but remember that neither Canadian nor Vietnamese culture is better or worse than what you are used to.
When studying in Canada, it’s important that you get involved with some sort of aspect of Canadian culture. It could be joining a university sports team, learning to cook Canadian foods, or joining a weekly hiking group to the many mountains surrounding the cities. Being a curious student will make a world of difference in transitioning into your new life in Canada.
While you will already have a good understanding of either English or French before embarking on a journey to study in Canada, immersing yourself in either language will help the transition. As you already know, English and French have many accents. The Canadian accent might be one you have not been exposed to as much as other English or French-speaking nationalities.
A fun tip for you that will keep you busy. Canada has a unique English and French dictionary of words and phrases not used elsewhere in the world. Be sure to ask your Canadian friends, and they will gladly teach you!
Making friends once you arrive in Canada will ease the discomfort of culture shock. As a student studying in Canada, your school will have a mixture of local Canadian and international students. Establishing these connections with other students who recently arrived in Canada, you can go through culture shock together. Taking the initiative to make friends right away will make it easier for you to adapt to Canadian culture and improve your social skills that will only benefit you throughout your university experience.
Taking the time to be a tourist in Canada will provide needed insights. Although we don’t suggest you travel extensively once you first arrive, it is good to explore the city you reside in and take part in tourist attractions. While studying, it’s worth considering visiting a local museum that could potentially help you understand Canadian culture. Be sure to show your student ID at any museum or tourist attractions as one of our suggested money-saving tips for international students studying in Canada!
Remember to always take care of yourself. By this, we mean ensure you eat well, take some time to exercise, get enough sleep and perhaps meditate. Taking the extra time for yourself when things might feel overwhelming can go a long way.
Keeping an open mind while studying in Canada will make things easier. Don’t set expectations of what Canadian culture will be like, as this could quickly lead you to spiral into severe culture shock. Instead of setting expectations, treat everything that you encounter as a chance to gain new insights into Canadian culture. Not only will this make it easier for you, but you might just happen to find certain things Canadians do that you may like. Keeping an open mind and turning ‘shock’ into a learning experience will put you ahead of the game when adapting to a new culture.
Ensure to schedule weekly calls with friends and family back home. Talking to loved ones about the experiences or challenges you may be facing can help you get through them. It might even be worth journaling your feelings and thoughts while studying in Canada. Not only does this help you reflect on what you’re currently experiencing, but it acts as a great tool to read back on once you have adapted to a new culture.
As much as it’s easy to idealize what your past routines and life back home were like, part of the journey while studying in Canada is to also take the opportunity to learn about yourself. Make the most out of your time living abroad and stay consciously open-minded to learning new ways of doing things. It will only build your character to allow you to grow as a person!
Lastly, always remember to embrace your own culture. The university you will attend during your studies will be filled with many different cultural backgrounds and perspectives. In some cases, you might be surprised to see some cultures have similarities to yours. Therefore be proud of your own culture! Others will notice this, and it will only spark interest to discuss hobbies, cultural foods, languages, and much more. Learning to adjust to a new culture is a big step in your life, and the best way to do this is to be yourself at every step of the way.
Everyone deals with culture shock differently. Some adapt more effortlessly than others. But remember, you are not going through this alone. There are over 530,000 international students currently in Canada that have jumped through the culture shock hoop. With these tips, we hope it helps make your transition to studying in Canada an exciting and memorable time in your life!
If you’re ready to start your new adventure and apply for your student visa to Canada. Let us accompany you in your journey to making your dreams to study in Canada become a reality!
Ignite your dreams. Go further!