This post is a really interesting one which focuses on various stages that every Student has to go through when he/she reaches the US or any other Country for their MS/PhD. This is called as Adjusting to the University Life. No matter whether you have never lived alone from your family or you have, every student experiences these stages which I will be sharing.
Even though it’s exciting, change is not always easy to handle. The first few days can be quite Mystifying with multiple orientations, a sea of new faces, things that you have to complete and finding your way around the campus.
It’s natural for all students to feel lost or lonely in this situation. Other new students may be feeling just the same, and this is the ideal time to meet and make friends. It is important to give yourself time when in this transition and not to expect too much of yourself.
At first, you may feel how you are going to handle these changes but knowing the W-curve helps you to understand that these stages are a part of a journey that everyone goes through.
The W-Curve: –
Stage 1: – Honeymoon Period
The Honeymoon Period is when you start from your home towards the airport to catch a flight to USA or any other Country. This Period ends when you arrive at the University. During this period, it’s natural that students feel an excitement and joy of travelling alone and that they have achieved their dream. Even though some may feel nervousness and tension but overall every Student is in a positive frame of mind. The initial sense of freedom that every student feels is always thrilling and exciting. So in all the Honeymoon Period is really a good period where Students experiences a mix of emotions: – Joyfulness, Nervousness and Sadness about leaving their family.
Stage 2: – Cultural Shock Period
Here comes the Major Stages in the Student’s life. The first Cultural Shock that the students will get is when they attend the orientations. You would notice a mix of Students from various backgrounds and countries. As the days progresses, the newness of being in the University will wear off. Students have to adjust to the major changes that they will be facing. The major changes are: Living with other students, completing the different chores in your house, meeting new students and professors from different backgrounds and culture. Apart from studying, Students also have to cook, clean, work part-time etc. which sometimes become a daunting task.
The issues that Students face during this period are: – Interacting with people, establishing a network and relationship with professors, Homesick, Anxiety of completing various tasks, interpersonal conflicts etc. You may think Buying grocery from a shop as an easy job. But some students are affected by cultural shock so much that this easy job becomes difficult as they need to interact with other people. Students generally try to find people from their own country.
Stage 3: – Initial Adjustment Period
After going through the Cultural Shock Period, Students after some days/months get adjusted to the new conditions. The chores and other activities become a part of the student’s life. Interaction with other students and professors becomes easy than before. Students fall into this daily routine and get adjusted to the conditions. Students feel as though they have returned to their normal lives. Issues like Homesickness and other small conflicts may be present but Students are in the position to handle it. Students now start to feel as though they are a part of this society.
Stage 4: – Mental Isolation
I consider this as a very interesting stage in the Student’s life. During the summer vacation/Christmas Holidays when students return to their homes, they are faced with a Reverse Cultural Shock. Students make comparisons between the University culture and their home culture, which they are more familiar with. Here students are caught in between the two worlds. University Culture still cannot match with home, but home is not as familiar as it was.
Stage 5: – Acceptance & Integration
After being in the University for some time, Students get more involved in the University life. Communication and Interaction, which was a major concern before, has disappeared. Students communicate and connect at ease with others. Students become more balanced and have a realistic view on anything. Students become much more matured in facing the upcoming challenges and hurdles in their life.
To Conclude: –
The reason for posting this article was to enlighten students that everyone has to go through these stages. The stages may feel very difficult, but in time you would settle down. In the next post I will be sharing some tips on settling with your University Life.
This post was created with the help of the Article from ‘Culture Shock and the first-year experience by William J. Zeller and Robert Mosier’ and the York University.