Adjusting to life in a foreign country

It can be exciting and rewarding to travel to a new country in order to study.

Whether you are adjusting to life in Australia as an international student or about to embark on an exchange, short course or study abroad overseas, you may experience some culture shock.

Culture shock can make some people feel overwhelmed and homesick. Emotions such as sadness, loneliness, fear, tiredness and confusion can be normal, though at other times you may feel hopeful, pleased, excited, independent and confident.

In Australia, it is normal to discuss psychological health problems with health professionals, such as a Counsellor or a Medical Doctor.


Settling in at ANU - Where to meet new people?

Student services and student associations at ANU regularly run social activities and events throughout the year. You can also join free transitioning programs at ANU to assist you with adjusting and transitioning to Australia.

- SET4ANU Mentoring
SET4ANU mentoring program caters to all international students and off-campus domestic students. The program matches you with later year students who can provide insight about life at ANU. SET4ANU also runs regular social activities, allowing you to network and meet new people.

-Residential Hall Activities
If you live in residential halls, consider joining activities hosted by your halls during O-Week. Most halls also host regular social programs throughout the year. You can also talk to you Senior Resident, Head or Deputy Head of Hall for support.

- Griffin Hall for Off-campus students
-If you live off-campus, you can also consider joining Griffin Hall. Griffin Hall provides a residential hall community experience, pastoral support and development opportunities for off-campus students.

-Volunteering through ANU+
Volunteering is an excellent way to meet new people while at the same time, gaining new skills and experiences. Through ANU+, your volunteering experience will be formally recognised and added to your ANU transcript* - it's a win-win!

- Clubs and Societies, ANUSA
There are over 50 clubs and societies at ANU. Join one or two that interest you to meet like-minded individuals. If you are into student government, you can also volunteer with ANUSA. You can typically join clubs and societies at any time of the year by contacting the society you are interested in. You can also visit their stall during Market Day on O-Week. Clubs and societies typically host welcoming events and regular activities throughout the year.

- Social activities at Embassies
Some embassies in Canberra host cultural and social activities for international students from respective countries. It might be a good idea to join in activities organised by embassies to meet people from your home country.

- Need more help settling in?
It's ok to ask for help and it's ok to not feel ok. Speak to someone you can trust or book a free chat with peer educators at ANU Thrive. Peer educators are fellow students who are there to lend a helping ear or two.



Settling in - general tips and advice

Some of the things international students talk about in counselling are loneliness and homesickness, academic difficulties, speaking up in tutorials, confusion and anxiety, relationship problems, financial pressures, and many other things as well. Below are some tips that others have found helpful when settling in:

- Give yourself time
Allow time to recover from jetlag and become acquainted with different aspects of the new country you are living in.  

- Establish routine, be proactive
As soon as possible, establish some routine to your life. Stay active, be proactive, look into getting involved in activities organised on campus or by your residential hall. If you've missed out on some of these activities, don't stress as you will still have chance to meet people through tutorials, labs and other study related interactions.

-Interact with locals
Interacting with local students may help you learn and familiarise yourself with the new country you are in quickly.

-Do not self-isolate, keep in touch
If you find it hard to interact with locals, you can always make friends with fellow students from your home country or other international students who are facing similar challenges. It may take time to make friends, but do not give up. Avoid self-isolating yourself, choose social activities that suit you. Don't forget to keep in touch with family and friends back home.



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