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Do you aspire to study abroad? Are you planning to embark on the fascinating journey of becoming an international student? Undoubtedly, the thought of studying at your dream university in your dream study abroad destination is exciting. Moreover, if you can do that on a handsome scholarship, it cannot get any better.

However, as enthralling as it seems, it is also true that navigating a foreign culture is a difficult task. As an international student, adjusting to new cultures and ways of life might test you to the core. Precisely, cultural shock is the term that summarises this hustle.

A cultural shock is inevitable whether you embark on a journey to study in Canada or elsewhere. Adapting to a new culture will be crucial to your overseas education journey. Henceforth, the only way to make the transition smooth is to prepare for it and embrace it.

In this blog, we tell you how you can navigate cultural challenges as an international student. The more you know about managing a cultural shock the less there is to worry about. However, before we talk about navigating the challenges, we must define the challenges.  

Cultural Challenges International Students Face 

As an international student, there are quite a few cultural challenges you will face. Some of the common challenges are listed below.

Adapting to a new education system 

If you plan to study in Australia, Canada et cetera, the first major difference felt will be in education systems. The education systems of foreign nations are a lot different from the Indian education system. For instance, there is a striking contrast between the North American Education System and its Indian counterpart. Adjusting to a new education system will be difficult initially. 

Adapting to a new social setting 

Any country’s social setting is an integral part of its culture. How social settings work in India is absolutely different from Canada, the US, the UK or any other nation. These social settings will reflect in the rituals, mindsets and conduct of people. As an international student, you will have to blend in gradually to find your comfort.  

Language barriers  

If you plan to move to a country where English is not the native language, language barriers will certainly pose a challenge. To explain, this is more likely to happen in countries like Germany or France where English is not the native language. 

Navigating new virtues and morals 

Every culture has its own set of unique virtues and morals that define the way of life. Speaking of Indian culture, it is largely driven by virtues and morals of different kinds. As a society, we delve deep into virtues. On the contrary, western countries have their own virtues which may not be as deep-rooted as in India. 


Your study abroad dream will come at a cost, the comfort of your home. Going to a new nation we are all bound to experience homesickness. It will stay for a while no matter how hard you try to get rid of it. It is a very normal thing to feel and will take its share of time.

Now that we have understood the common challenges, let us talk about navigating them. In the next section, we shed light on how to prepare for and manage a culture shock. 

Preparing for Cultural Shock As An International Student 

Expand your cultural literacy consistently 

The more you know about the cultures of different countries the faster you will blend in. Let’s say you plan to either study in the UK or Canada after high school. Reading and learning about the cultures of both countries can in fact be a vital deciding factor.

In the pursuit of exploring the cultures of the UK and Canada, you will acquire great awareness. You can compare the two cultures and then decide for yourself. Afterward, when you choose one out of the two, knowing about the culture beforehand will certainly help.

There are various ways in which you can learn about a foreign culture. There are innumerable blogs to read from and YouTube videos to watch. As an overseas aspirant, make sure you keep adding to your cultural literacy for better adaptability. Research well and if needed, make a note of key pointers. 

Acquire clarity of the education system of the preferred destination 

You need to ensure that you have complete clarity of the education system of your dream study abroad destination. If you aspire to study in Australia, you must have a lucid idea of how the Australian education system works. Similarly, if you want to study in the US or Canada, you need to gain insights into the North American Education System. 

Additionally, you must also know about the top institutions in your preferred country. You must know about the top universities in the USA or Canada or any other country on your preferred list. 

Work on your soft skills 

Soft skills define your abilities in terms of interacting and collaborating with others. Soft skills are also often referred to as personal attributes or personality traits. Some common examples of soft skills include communication skills, leadership, time management, social skills et cetera. 

Having worked on developing effective soft skills, as an international student it will empower you in different ways. To explain, owing to soft skills, you can interact and collaborate with students from diverse backgrounds more effectively.

It will feel less challenging to initiate conversations with students or teachers from a variety of backgrounds. This will ease the hustle of blending into a new environment and culture. Otherwise, if you don’t back your soft skills, you will find it pretty hard to adjust to a new environment.

So, the bottom line is that you must commit to enhancing your soft skills through learning and exposure. In fact, you will anyway need strong soft skills to clear college interviews and to put up a strong case for admission to top universities. The earlier you start the better. 

Develop a knack for taking the initiative 

Blending into a new environment miles away from home will require you to take a series of self-initiatives. You will need to muster the courage to walk up to your professors, classmates and local natives seeking assistance.

Adapting to a new culture you will need to find a lot of answers that will help you settle in. To seek these answers, you must ask questions and take the initiative to gather information and assistance from different sources. The more comfortable you are taking such initiatives the easier it will seem. 

Use LinkedIn to good effect 

Are you on LinkedIn yet? If not, the first thing you should do after reading this blog is to create your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn can be a great tool to connect with professors, students and alumni of your target university.

After connecting with them, you can learn from them about the university environment in advance. Also, you can learn from them about the education system followed at the university. This is how you can use LinkedIn as a wonderful tool to navigate cultural challenges prior to starting your journey.

So, we hope you liked the actionable tips we have shared for international students to navigate cultural challenges. All of these tips are practical enough to facilitate a smooth transition to cultural changes. The key is to build your knowledge of cultures and education systems of your target countries.