Aubrey Bierwirth is a Student Support Administrator at the University of York International Pathway College. Here she shares her advice on how you can combat culture shock.
Culture shock is very common when it comes to studying abroad. It can be triggered by many things, like the language, the food, or even the weather! Learning to adapt to a new culture is one of the ways that studying abroad will help you grow as a person, even if it is not always easy.
Thankfully, at the University of York International Pathway College (UYIPC), you’re not alone. With the dedicated Student Support Team here to help you, you will adapt to life in the UK in no time! Here are 5 ways that you can combat culture shock.
1. Settle in at Welcome Week
The first week in a new country is full of new, exciting, and sometimes confusing things. That’s why the UYIPC Student Support team organises a Welcome Week to help you make sense of everything and settle into your new home.
During Welcome Week, we help you with things like registering with a doctor and opening a bank account, verifying your visa documentation, enrolling in classes, and getting to know the city and campus. You will learn about the university, your academic expectations, and life in the UK. We also run trips and social events to help you meet other students and make friends!
With less to worry about, you can focus on adjusting at your own pace.
2. Go to social and cultural events
Throughout the year, the Student Support team organises social and cultural events to help you find new hobbies, learn about British culture, and meet new people.
For example, we run a ‘Taste of Yorkshire’ event that introduces new students to local food. If that’s not your thing, we have a student-organised football team, games nights, and holiday celebrations. Or maybe you want to get out of the city to see the countryside? Recently, we ran a work experience opportunity in the beautiful North York Moors with the National Trust!
Finding or continuing a hobby can serve as an outlet and help you create a routine. At the same time, you can make new friends, which will help you build a support network. Both are great ways to combat culture shock and help you feel more settled!
3. Attend workshops
Culture shock can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions. The Student Support team helps you manage this by arranging events and providing resources at key points when stress can make culture shock worse.
During the first few weeks after your arrival, we work with the Open Door Team (ODT) at the University of York to run a culture shock workshop, where you can learn to recognise and manage the signs of culture shock. Later in the term, during exams, you can benefit from opportunities to focus on your health, including yoga, free fruit, and gardening. We even have our own International Pathway College vegetable gardens!
4. Get help at drop-in meetings
The most important role of Student Support is, well, to support students! So if culture shock is getting to you, or you want extra help figuring out life in the UK, we are always here to help!
Our dedicated Student Support team is available for one-to-one meetings with students and can help you with a range of queries, from how to arrange a doctor's appointment, to where to go for additional advice and support.
5. Enjoy an international community
We can hardly take credit for the entire community at the College, but we want to shout about it anyway! The University of York International Pathway College is a great place to study abroad, with both staff and students from around the world.
Part of culture shock is being uncomfortable with stepping outside of your normal routine, but by being open and speaking with others — some of whom are going through the same thing — you will learn, grow, and soon settle in.
No matter where you are from, you will fit right in at the University of York International Pathway College!