Moving to another country is a big step, particularly when you speak another language or have big cultural differences. However, it can also be one of the best experiences of your life, so take advantage of all the opportunities and support services on offer to make the most of your time here.

Murdoch has a variety of support options in place to help you transition into life at Murdoch and Australia, but it is important to understand the challenges you may experience, and know it is common to have difficulties or confusion when adjusting to life in a new place.

Culture shock refers to the ‘shock’ or adjustment difficulties someone faces when moving to a culture different from their own.

Adjusting to a new culture

The new culture may be radically different from your home culture, but sometimes an individual’s experience of a culture with apparent close similarities can give rise to serious adjustment issues, perhaps because of the expectation of ease.

Exchanging your home situation where you had a clear identity and role in society for a situation where people don’t know you, is a disruptive and uncomfortable experience. Because of the discomfort, it is easy to isolate yourself which may make matters worse in the long term.

There are often significant individual differences in the experience of culture shock.

People tend to initially have relatively high levels of tolerance for cultural differences. Local cultural differences that may be interesting or amusing when you are in a tourist role can come to be experienced as irritating and offensive when your stay continues. Being aware of this is helpful in coping.

Engagement with the local culture is a valuable learning experience. From these cross-cultural experiences most travellers return to their homeland enriched by their exposure to another culture and with a keener attachment to what is precious in their own.

myMurdoch Mentor is a great program that helps engage new students with University life and Murdoch’s global community culture. Get your studies and networks off to the best start with a myMurdoch Mentor – sign up at orientation.

Tips to deal with culture shock

  • It is important to know you are not alone, and many other students feel the same way.
  • Be aware that the early difficulties pass as you engage with the local situation.
  • Realise you are not being disloyal to your home culture in adjusting to this one.
  • No one is asking you to abandon your own culture.
  • Engaging with the local culture you will help the locals learn about your culture and come to respect it.
  • Aim to eat healthy and to get fresh air and exercise.
  • Seek to make friends with locals; read about local culture and history.
  • Join campus activities and groups.
  • Keep in touch with your family at home, tell them about your experiences.
  • If you are isolating yourself and would like to talk to someone, come to the Counselling Service and ask to see a counsellor.