International Students: Phases of Cultural Transition


Moving to a totally new country can be a bit scary for International Students. If an individual is well equipped with the knowledge that they are not alone and most people experience this transition phase, it just reduces the anxiety. I know this for a fact as my journey in Canada began 4 years ago as an International Student.

According to me these phases can be classified into 3 stages:

Phase of Excitement:

In this phase you feel that your life is changing for good. This can be described as a period of excitement, desire and optimism about experiencing a completely new environment. Initially a student might have mixed feelings, but he/she is more likely to focus only on the positives.

Emergency Phase:

There is a reason why I have termed this phase as a phase of emergency. The student begins to experience anxiety, is confused about his/her decision and is reckless. This generally happens as the person is getting adapted to a completely different culture and social environment. In simple terms this phase can be deemed as ‘Cultural Shock’. Most people experience this feeling over a period of time. This is a temporary phase and the longevity will depend on how quickly a person can adapt to the new environment.

In my opinion this is the most important phase; if a person can overcome this state then he is ready to face any challenges, that may come his way and he will eventually turn out be more responsible and self-confident.

Major Symptoms:

  1. Begin to feel homesick
  2. Seem frustrated on petty issues
  3. Drastic changes can be noticed in your eating and sleeping habits
  4. You shy away from meeting people and avoid any conversation with people

Retrieval Phase:

The Retrieval phase is experienced differently by every individual. For me it was the best phase, which proved to be a life changing event. In this phase we need to take into consideration our strengths and weaknesses. As the time passes by; you begin to experience the positive effects such as increasing self-confidence, being highly motivated and adaptive towards the new culture. The key point though, is that you need to explore new ideas and begin to expand your social network.

In a short while you will begin to imbibe the new culture in bits and pieces, still withholding your strong cultural values from back home.

Key Suggestions:

  1. Understanding that what you are experiencing is common and that these feelings are temporary. Be calm and give yourself sometime to cope up during this phase.
  2. Get in touch with your family back home. Initially speaking to them on regular basis gives you a lot of strength.
  3. Explore the area and find places that are similar to your hang out spots back home.
  4. Try to keep yourself busy by going to events that are being organized by your Universities and Colleges. Eat, join new activities and try to sleep well.
  5. Adapting to the new culture is possibly the best way to skip isolation and loneliness.
  6. Make new friends, try to have fun and keep your mind relaxed!

Mainstreet Equity Corp. caters to international students looking for student housing in: Abbotsford, Surrey, New Westminster, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon

Mainstreet Equity Corp. is a publicly traded (TSX: MEQ) residential real estate company in Canada. Mainstreet currently owns and operates properties in Surrey, BC; New Westminster, BC; Abbotsford, BC; Calgary, AB; Cochrane, AB; Edmonton, AB; Fort Saskatchewan, AB; and Saskatoon, SK.

Mainstreet provides affordable, renovated apartment suites to Canadians, and is committed to creating real value without diluting shareholder interests.

About the Author
Manpreet Saluja

Manpreet is part of the Marketing team. He is currently focused on rental market research and is closely working with Universities as a part of an intense student project for Mainstreet. He is also involved in the decision making of tenant approvals.

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