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International Student Services: Cultural Adjustment
Studying and living in a foreign country can be a difficult and rewarding experience. Everyone will face certain challenges during the time spent in United States. These challenges and experiences can be part of the cultural adjustment process. Cultural adjustment can happen in one week, several months, or even a year. Although this process can be tiring at times, it is also a time to reflect and grow. Students who have gone through cultural adjustment often feel more aware of themselves, their own culture, and other people’s culture. If you ever feel like you would like to talk about your adjustment experience, please contact the Campus Connector or make an appointment with an International Student Advisor. For more information about cultural adjustment, please see the right side navigation bar.
These articles were written by past and current international students for new international students entering the University of Portland. Our intent is to offer advice in the form of personal experience. Topics include adjusting to U.S culture, participating in social life at UP, succeeding in academics and more. Open the articles below to learn about how international students have adjusted to the University of Portland.
My first year started off with orientation week, which you are experiencing now, and then I started school. Sure, at first I was scared and hesitated for a while, but I soon became a part of what I like to call a big family here at the UP. People were so friendly and helpful. Professors here are smart and caring, and try their best to provide an environment that makes you feel involved. I say that because they helped me build confidence, which is a vital aspect for one to possess when in a foreign country.
Besides studying, I was able to meet many people, create new friends and enjoy my time to the fullest. Your first year at college is one of the best years of your life, and spending mine here at the UP is something that I will never regret. The University provided a safe environment; an environment where I could see the progress I was making socially and academically.
I'm sure that you will enjoy your freshman year here at the
Dany (Left) and Tomo
Welcome dear students! My name is Vladimir Shvets and I’m an international student from
1. Forget about the accent. Speak with an accent and people will ask about your home town. This will be a great chance to start a conversation and make new friends.
2. Be friendly and confident. Don’t be afraid to smile and shake hands. Make the first impression strong and people will remember you.
3. Take a first step to talk to your roommate. Having a roommate can sometimes be pretty tricky. It’s good to have a perspective that nobody is wrong, just different. Again, confidence is important. Take the first step to talk to the person and get to know him or her better. Better understanding usually leads to good compromises.
4.Socialize!!Being around people is one of the best ways to get to know a lot of folks. Joining clubs, like the international club, is a great start to experience a fun social life. Learn more about differences, meet interesting people and just have lots of fun.
5. Ask professors for help. UP is a small school. Sign up for office hours and take advantage of a great opportunity to understand things better. It’s always good to clear up little things on the way, so you won’t have big problems with the material later.
6. Ask classmates for help. If there is something that you don’t understand, especially with English, don’t be afraid to ask. However, be open to helping others too. Teaching is second learning, and it is such a great feeling to be helpful.
7. Read the text books. Sometimes you may find yourself misunderstanding or missing some material from the lecture. You can always open the book and carefully read the material you missed. Going over the material twice never hurts and always works for me.
8. Eat healthy. No matter what your food preferences are, make sure you get vitamins and drink a lot of water. Bring water bottles to class with you. In addition, some classes are pretty long and tests could be a little stressful. Make sure to eat enough before finals or exams and again, bring water with you!
9. Plan your day. Plan and find more time for different things. Remember studying is important but sleep is what gives you energy to study hard, not coffee (my opinion). Staying up late will be a part of your schedule before tests, but don’t take it as a habit.
10. Do sports! This is my personal advice. Sitting a lot may cause your back to feel tired at the end of the day. Go on the short run or do some yoga, this will help to feel less stressed and to sleep well.
I hope this advice will be useful for everyone. Have a great time at the
Vladimir (Left) and Ken
Hello! I am Hitomi Katogi, a junior communications major. I have tons of experiences here such as living in a residence hall , dealing with a bad roommate, finding a house to rent, working as a coordinator for the International Friendship Partner Program, volunteering as a Public Relations officer for the International Club, studying abroad in Salzburg, Austria, studying abroad in my home city, Tokyo, doing an internship, shopping and having meals at any possible place in and around Portland, traveling in the U.S. during school breaks, and so on. I also study fine arts, love cooking, and all sorts of sports. For this article, I will write about some tips for academic work.
In the first day of my first class, I had to introduce myself in front of everyone and explain my definition of communication. I was so nervous and shaking, but I learned that it was good to be honest that I was not a good English speaker. Most of the people here are very nice and have big hearts to accept who you are and support you if you let them know that you need their help or support. Not everyone is used to talking or becoming friends with international students. They feel shy and hesitate to talk to you unless you start talking to them and show that you want to know them too.
It is ok that you cannot understand everything in the class. You just have to be a little brave and ask questions to someone who sits near you when you could not take notes or when you feel shy to raise your hand and ask questions. If you still feel shy speaking imperfect English to your classmates, then ask them if you could have their e-mail address. It is always helpful to have a study group before the exams or even after every class. Don’t feel bad about asking them to teach you because a lot of American students think they learn better by explaining the material in their own words. Don’t forget to talk to other international students because you can find someone who took some of the same classes already and know how to study for those classes.
It is also very important to go see your professors after class or during their office hours. This is a great opportunity for you to let them know who you are, how hard you are working in class and what your problems are. From my experience, a lot of professors like it when students come visit them and ask questions because it means you are eager to study. They like to help you for sure. If you cannot make it for their office hours, it is better to e-mail them or call them to make a special appointment. Don’t worry; this does not make your professors annoyed. Before you visit your professors, make sure you know what you want them to know and what you want to ask. This helps make things smooth and then you won’t forget to ask everything. In fact, it is polite if you are ready to ask questions rather than just going there and saying I do not know or start finding questions.
In the beginning, I know it is hard to manage your time, but you will get used to it and will be able to handle all the hard work soon. However, for now it is good to read your textbooks with a pen or highlighter and mark where you think it is important or where you do not understand. That makes things easier when you need to study for exams or when you go ask questions. Go back and read again and again if the time allows, but don’t feel stressed out because school life here is not all about study. You cannot focus well in class if you are tired and hungry. So, eat healthy, sleep well, exercise well, talk to people, and have fun to do well in your classes. Remember: don’t ignore your problems, because if you do not take care of them, nobody will take care of them. I hope this helps a little. Good luck!
Hitomi (Left) and Mayumi
To read more about cultural adjustment, please click links in the right column.