Cultural adaptation in education

Many international students studying in the UK go through an initial phase of ‘culture shock’ when getting used to their new surroundings. Adapting to a new environment is always a challenge. Being able to cope with differences in behaviour is always something students should strive to achieve. Furthermore, going outside of your comfort zone from an early age is initially daunting but a valuable life skill that will reap many benefits. At Newton Bright Educational Consultants we offer many services to help students overcome cultural barriers and ease them into life in the UK so that adaptation issues don’t impede their academic success. Here are some reasons why adaptation is so important and ways to help you acclimatise to your new surroundings.

Socialise as much as possible

Making friends with people from the UK can be daunting especially if English is not your native language. Cultural adaptation is challenging. Don’t be afraid to engage with your classmates and the new culture. If anything they will be happy to help you and will respect your bravery and tenacity for making an effort with them. If you are shy or introverted and decide to go to an event or society, don’t beat yourself up for being quiet or not socialising as much. There is a saying often said in sport that it’s not the winning that counts it’s the taking part. This rings true for other social activities too. Give yourself a pat on the back for having the courage to face your fears in attending events. Don’t worry if you’re not making friends instantly. The more you spend time around them the more you will feel comfortable and gradually you will adapt.

Have an open mind

One of the most effective ways to get good at cultural adaptation is to try and be open-minded. Treat everything new as a chance to gain knowledge about the culture. Look at things from other perspectives. If a fellow student or professor acts differently, consider how their background and culture influence their behaviour. Turn the shock into a learning experience or even treat it like an adventure because that’s what it is! Find out what is required of you at school and university from your lecturers so that you can set academic goals for yourself. The most important thing is that you go out and try things. Don’t worry about being judged or what people think of you. Focus on yourself and how you can take yourself outside your comfort zone.

Try new things

A lot of student’s biggest fear is standing out amongst a completely different culture and this leads many to keep themselves to themselves and not really come to terms with their new surroundings. In the first few weeks of cultural adaptation it is important to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Ask questions about university or school life and become informed about it. Social media is a great way of finding out about events at school or on campus. Why not join a few Facebook groups or send messages to societies to get information about their events? Once you have information, put it in the calendar on your phone. This is useful as it gives you options for activities. It also means you are less likely to spend time in your room alone in the evenings.

Don’t compare life in the UK to life back home

Think twice before contacting your family back home especially if it’s to tell them that you are homesick. This will do nothing but worry them. You might find it easy to focus on what is “missing” like familiar foods and customs from back home. However, comparisons will not help you settle in when trying to adapt to your new surroundings. Instead it is useful to focus on the good things around you. Remember that discovering and learning new things is why you wanted to study in the UK. Of course it’s important to stay in touch with your friends and family back home. Tell them about the new experiences you are having and new friends you are making rather than how homesick you are feeling.

Go outside of your comfort zone

If someone invites you somewhere, go! This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. While you do not want to overwhelm yourself, do things that make you a little nervous like practising your conversational English with a native speaker. You only grow when you reach outside your comfort zone and attempt cultural adaptation. What makes UK Independent schools and universities unique is not only their great academic standing but also their reputation for developing personalities and nurturing talent through extra-curricular activities. There are extra-curricular activities for a great amount of interests so don’t be scared to get involved as you may find a hidden talent.

Cultural adaptation to the UK education system can be challenging. It is important to know that you are not the only one going through it and that there are people always available to help you. University and school life in the UK may seem difficult at the beginning and the people around you know this. You’d be surprised how much people will be willing to help you. Your university will have student advisers and support on campus. You can always go to them for advice.

We at Newton Bright Educational Consultants offer services such as guardians, preparation courses in the UK as well as mentors with the goal of helping students adapt to their new education system and lifestyle. Click here to find out more about our mentoring and guardian service.

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