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Wilfrid Laurier University Centre for Student Success
October 10, 2015

Canadian Excellence


Tips for International Students Coping with Culture Shock

Tips for International Students Coping With Culture Shock

Jianan Mo

As an international student on campus, you may love the local food, the environment of studying, and life without your parents in the first two or three months after leaving your home country. However, any honeymoon time eventually ends and culture shock becomes apparent. A definition of culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country (Wikipedia). When I was in first year of my studies at Laurier, I experienced culture shock. The following are suggestions Im giving for dealing with thistough and missing home stage:

1.Make friends and develop long-term relationships.

Making friends means making friends not only with someone from the local culture, but also someone from your own culture. Developing relationships with local friends is good for international students to learn about new cultures. Local friends can be local culture dictionaries for international students. When a cultural situation happens, this dictionary can answer many types of cultural questions for you. For example, when I was in my first year at Laurier, I was invited to attend a party hosted by a local family. I asked my friends for any gift suggestions to bring to the party. They told me a thank-you card would be the best fit. I learned that a native friend would help you to deal with the adjustment stage of culture shock smoothly by teaching you culture-related knowledge.

Making friends with someone who has the same culture with you is also important. Friends who come from the same culture will easily understand your culture-related problems and can better help you to deal with problems. If you dont have a friend with the same culture, you could feel lonely. For example, as an international student, you might want to celebrate your national holidays in traditional style but none of your native friends would understand what the holidays mean.

2.Do something you did in your home country.

Cooking the food you like, listening to the music in your home language, and celebrating the national holidays would make you feel as comfortable as what you did in your home country. When I missed my family in my first year, I always cooked food in my traditional way and invited my friend to enjoy with me.

Keeping in touch with your parents and friends in your hometown could also be helpful. Keeping in touch makes you feel like your parents are with you. Therefore, you will feel less lonely. Also, keeping in touch with your parents and friends is really important when you experienced something unpleasant.

3.Go travelling.

Travelling around the new country could help you find something new, so you wont always think about your home country. If you dont have time or money, bring a camera and go for a walk just outside your house. Going for a walk, speaking with your neighbor and trying to explore how Canadians eat and work could help you to understand and accept the new culture!

To sum up, making friends, doing something you did in your home country and going on a trip are the three things I recommend to cope with culture shock!

Event: Scholarship Proposal Writing Workshops for Undergraduate Students

Interested in applying to graduate school? Looking for funding? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you may be interested in attending one of our upcoming scholarship proposal writing workshops.


It's Never Too Late to Become a Better Writer

Its Never Too late to become a Better Writer
by Nicole Gatchene

Too often I hear my friends say I cant write or Im in program X, Im a bad writer. There is a misconception that if, at one point in your life, you struggle to write, youll always be a poor writer. This, however, is not the case.Writing can be intimidating. Sometimes we resign ourselves to thinking that the task is impossible because of a previously negative experience. At some point during the writing process many of us have struggled more than we expected, and our difficulties resulted in lower marks.While Im a fan of reflecting on history as a way to help us interpret current situations, history should never determine our future.A history where writing was a challenge should not be taken to be our defining legacy but a sign of how far we have progressed, and the opportunities we have ahead of us to improve. This insecurity of not being able to write well because of past experiences being a poor writer is common, but it can be overcome.

Today, Im a Writing Centre tutor, and I help other students to become better writers. When I was in elementary school I was a poor reader, let alone a good writer, which showed in how I performed in reading programs.In my elementary school, we had a Home Reading program where we borrowed books from the school, read them with their parents who wrote informal progress reports, and then went back to school where wed get more books to take out.The books were organized based on their difficulty using different kinds of coloured shapes.Students were only allowed to take out books that matched their reading levels, and they could only take out different books once their reading levels improved. The first level was a red circle, the next was an orange square, and so forth.While my peers progressed through the shapes, I kept reading red circle books.At the time, it felt like I was reading red circle books forever, and I couldnt figure out why.It was frustrating as I struggled to read books, and it never seemed like I was making progress. To me, reading was just so hard, and I started to hate it.

This didnt go unnoticed to my teacher who nominated me to enroll in the Reading Recovery Program.In this program, I did weekly tutoring sessions with a teacher for a year.With my teachers help, I learned about how words were put together, rhymes to help me remember how to spell big words like because (Bears Eat Candy And Usually Swallow Everything), and games to decipher the number of syllables in words. Over the course of the year, reading started to make sense, it became easier, and it was fun.While I was still behind the progress of my peers, when I moved beyond the red circle books into orange square books I was extremely happy. I felt like I had won an Olympic medal.

A lot of time has passed since my time as a Reading Recovery Student, though the lessons have stuck with me. I learned that asking for extra help was okay. I figured out that just because I was different from my peers didnt mean I was stupid but that I learned differently.I realized that being behind didnt mean I was going to be left behind.

I think students forget lessons like the one I learned. They sometimes resign themselves to setting low goals because reaching high goals doesnt seem possible.Im here to tell you that this is not the case.If I had assumed that because I was a poor reader at one point, I would always be a poor reader (and therefore writer), then I would have missed out on a lot.I have embraced the learning opportunities that were presented to me throughout my grade school years which then led to the opportunity to attend university and now be a writing tutor. More than anything, we have to believe in ourselves, take the initiative to make that change were wanting, and take advantage of the resources available to us.

While the days of Reading Recovery are over, there are numerous opportunities to improve your writing now. Its never too late to become a good writer and make that writing history not our legacy, but our inspiration to improve.

Research: Writing Instruction at Ontario's Publicly Funded Universities

We are pleased to share our recent research publication about writing instruction in Ontario universities. Writing instruction at Ontario's publicly funded universities: A view of three disciplines offers readers information about approaches to writing instruction at the post-secondary level. This research was funded by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.


Writing Tutors in the Active Learning Classroom

During our summer tutor training week, our writing tutors worked together in the active learning classroom. The chairs gave our team the flexibility to form groups easily. They were fun, too!





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