Cultural Experience | Resources

Making Yourself at Home in a New Country

Getting Acclimated for Study Abroad

Whether you are spending semester or a year in a new country for your studies, it takes some getting used to. This is especially true over the course of the first few days. These first few days in a new country can be a whirlwind of excitement but also an overwhelming experience. Here are a few tips of what to do (and not to do) to get used to your new home quickly and allow yourself to continue exploring new places.

DO have a plan of what you’ll do when you get there

This plan could be as general as getting to your hotel or housing accommodations for your time there to a specific itinerary of places you want to visit when you first get there. Look up directions, translations and anything else you might need, especially when you first arrive. Have a plan in place can make an unfamiliar place seem a little more manageable. However…

DON’T be afraid to stray from your plan if you come across something interesting in the process

Arriving in a new place brings about a heightened sense of curiosity and even allows you to pick up on things in your environment that you might not have otherwise. If you come across something that seems interesting when you arrive, don’t be afraid to check it out even if it means straying from what you planned to do.

DO expect some homesickness, especially at first

Despite looking forward to studying abroad for what feels like years, you might experience some homesickness when you first arrive. Being in a new place can make you long for the familiarity of your friends, family, and life back home. It’s fine to let yourself feel this way for a little while but..

DON’t let your homesickness impact what opportunities you take advantage of while abroad

Since you are going through a big life change, allow yourself to feel homesickness but try not to let it impact the opportunities you take advantage of while you’re abroad. Even if you do not feel like it, try to get out and see new things and meet new people. Much of the time you will be thankful you put in the effort instead of wallowing. You will also have memorable experiences that you can tell your family and friends about when you do go home.

MoreSo You’re Homesick…now what?

DO try to get the lay of the land

The more you know about your surroundings, the more comfortable you will be. So try to explore the immediate area of where you will be spending your time as soon as possible after arriving. Download some map apps or purchase a few paper maps and do not be afraid to ask locals if you think you are lost or need help finding something. Most would be happy to answer a quick question or two.

DON’T be afraid to use the native language of the place you will be studying

If you will be studying in a place with a different language than the one you speak at home, don’t be afraid to start getting used to the language when you first arrive. This will probably occur naturally since you will be surrounded by signs to be read and people speaking the languages all around. If you are entirely new to the language, try to buy a few phrasebooks before leaving and look through them so you know some key phrases before you arrive, or try an app like Duolingo. Additionally, once you have a elementary understanding, try speaking to native speakers as much as possible. Just engaging in conversation will help your comprehension and most people you come across will be happy to help you while you learn.

More: Study Abroad: Expectations Vs. Reality

With these tips you should find settling into your new home a little bit easier. Living in a new place, especially one where you might not be aware of all the customs or even the language, can be daunting but by putting yourself out there you will be having meaningful experiences and making memories to last a lifetime.

Making Yourself at Home in a New Country

Megan Swanson

Syracuse University | 1 story

Megan is a junior studying Advertising and Information Management & Technology at Syracuse University. She is currently studying abroad for the semester in London, England and this is her first time traveling outside the United States. When she's not traveling or researching her next trip, you can find her reading in a local coffee shop or watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

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