By Jessie Chen
In our first gateway class in the MBA program, we watched a video named Cold Water, which discussed the culture shock of students in Boston University. I was quite impressed when watching the video. As an International student in the U.S. for almost a half year, I am still trying my best effort to learn American values, while I also went through some of the shocks and difficulties mentioned in this video.
My favorite line from Cold Water is “the person who denies the culture will fail to adapt to adapt to the new environment”. In my opinion, international students should have certain coping skills that help them to pass the culture shock phases.
Firstly, the international student needs to study purposely on the destination country and new culture before going abroad. Take myself for example. Before coming to study in the U.S., I entered two courses organized by an ESL school in my hometown city. These two courses were mainly about the American culture, ethics, customs, and taboos in both social and business aspects. I did not find them helpful until I arrived in the US. My study on the US culture helped me to adapt to the life here rapidly and successfully.
As well, the international student needs to be open to the new culture. My suggestion is to live like a four-year old child in the new environment. After I have arrived in the US, I intended to hang out with local citizens as often as possible, and this definitely helped me to adapt to their accents, slangs, customs, social life, and culture. I learnt a lot from them. I also found that local people were interested in my culture, which is quite different from theirs, while I was learning from them. Do not feel offended when they ask you something that is common sense in your home country. I always felt proud to introduce my own culture to my friends by answering their questions. Being an open person will benefit the international student to adjust to the new environment in no time.
Thirdly, the international student can start his or her own adventure in the new city or new country. Getting lost in the new place is a fabulous way to establish your familiarity with the new environment. I like walking down the streets in different areas of the town, and each time when I was walking, I could always find something new, which was like a surprise to me and delighted my whole day. Do not be afraid of getting lost. You can find someone to ask the direction, and that might be the beginning of a new friendship.
The coping skills of an international student in a new culture are extremely important. Be confident and be open. Remember, those who deny the new culture will fail.
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