Updated: Jan 27
So you got accepted to a school away from your hometown. Fees are paid, scholarships are awarded, you've travelled the distance and touched down in your new second home for the next 2 years or so. Whether you enrolled in a small junior college or a university with multiple campuses, you are bound to relate to at least two of the three types of shock in your time away from home.
Culture shock from being in a new locale is one thing. The natives probably not understand your customs, your habits or your language; hell, they may not even understand the colour your eyes, hair or even skin (yes, I said that - and meant that). And the same statement applies to the international population - in all its diversity; they may not get you or relate to you very often, despite the locale also being foreign to them. And sometimes in that regard, the people you may feel like you can relate to the most - people from your home country or as close as your home city - will surprise the mess out of you. They will find some ways to adapt that seem very odd at first, they may think differently than you, they may be brought up with different ideals or morals than you. Needless to say, it will be very unnerving at times; sometimes frustrating, infuriating, disheartening, discouraging and even depressing. In fact, for some people the prospect of forming many generalised ideas (some very outlandish and some right on the money!), become a recluse or run for the green green grass of home can seem very tempting.
Switching to a new currency or simply a new price of living can be a true shock, not just to your wallet. On one end, switching to a lower cost of living sometimes means that spending habits are underestimated - constant comparison in your home currency runs the risk of the notion that "oh it's not that expensive, so I can afford to buy more/splurge" and the inevitable money management problems in the long term. On the other end of the spectrum, switching to a higher cost of living sometimes makes expenses tough to maintain. This is especially true on a scholar's stipend, no matter where your scholarship takes you. In one way or the other, the potential to feel overwhelmed by the cost of life in your new surroundings is lurking, sometimes palpable.
You've just moved to a new city, new state or new country. You've got a new set of customs to adapt to, a new set of rules to learn, a new set of responsibilities to adjust to. And that's before you even get on the flight to reach your new destination! You still have yet to get your orientation package when you touch down in your new city - or enter the gates of your new school. Then that package arrives - and that's pages upon pages to read, whether it's on paper, USB drive, online, mobile app, wherever it lies. Then there is in-campus orientation to school - that day (day, days, weeks, depending on where you go to school) is pretty much flooded with more terabytes of data imaginable, most of which will be lost on you between the first 3-6 hours. If you're blessed with a large attention span.
Oh, then there's the new things on the checklist that you now have near-full responsibility for. Choosing courses? Picking extra-curricular activities? Knowing class pre-requisites? That's on you. Which textbooks to digest to deal with in which order? What time class starts? What class you're supposed to be in? Oh, that's you too. Any medical woes? Pharmacy run? Dental check-ups? Your call again. Traffic tickets? Any other run-ins with the law? Oh yeah, there you go too.
... Calm Down
Okay. It is possible that I may have shocked you. So while you find something lighter to read about, I'll leave you with a short note - there are bright sides to all this. More about that in another post.