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A Student’s Journey of Adaptation and Growth

A Students Journey of Adaptation and Growth

Have you ever wondered what foreign students experience when they first move to a new country? Well, most foreign people, not just students, experience cultural shock. According to Nemours Teen Health, cultural shock is a way to describe those feelings of confusion and nervousness that a person may have after leaving a culture that is familiar to them to live in a new and different one. 

When you move to another place, you must face many changes, which can be a big ball of emotions. It’s most likely that at the beginning you will feel sad, anxious, frustrated, and want to go back home. It’s logical that adapting to a new culture is difficult at first. The people with whom these students now interact may have different values and beliefs. Because of these differences, the things they talk about, the way they express themselves, and even the foods they consume can be very different from what they are used to. The good thing is that cultural shock is temporary, or in some cases, maybe it isn’t. 

Everyone has a different adaptation process. In some situations, there are people excited about moving, motivated by the idea of starting a new chapter, or have heard wonderful things about that new place where their new home will be. The adaptation process for these individuals tends to be better and faster. 

On the contrary, there are people who had to leave their home not because they wanted to but because they had to. Sadly, many families leave their homes in search of a better future for their children, and I say sadly because many of these parents were already professionals in their country and did not need to leave. Due to the situation in the country, they must migrate and start from scratch in exchange for ensuring a stable, secure, and healthy life for their loved ones. 

However, you never cease to be amazed; every day you learn something new about that new home. These are some of the cultural shocks that foreign students experienced upon arriving in an unfamiliar environment. 

First, the biggest and most challenging barrier: The language. 

While we know that learning a new language must be the most difficult aspect, many students arrive with zero knowledge of it, which can result in difficulties communicating with other students and fitting in. 

“I was surprised to see that the food offered in the cafeteria is free; in Venezuela, you had to bring your own food from home.” Described senior Gabriela Olivares. Gabriela is from Maracaibo, Venezuela. In Venezuela, you had to bring your own breakfast from home, but there is also a small shop called a cantina where you could buy whatever you wanted during break or after classes. 

“There, you stayed in your classroom, and the teachers for each subject rotated.” Said junior Melissa Herrera. Melissa is from La Habana, Cuba. In Cuba, like in many other countries, when you enter the first level of preschool, you are assigned a section according to your grade, and you stay with the same classmates until you graduate. Another difference to highlight is that in Cuba, there is no 12th grade; you graduate after 11th grade. 

“Here, people dress as they want; it’s a more modern and open style. Here at school, students can come one day in pajamas and the next day they come dressed nicely.” Said sophomore Luciano Lamanna. Continuing to explain more education differences, “There, we have to take 11 classes, and here only 6, which are generally easy.”  

We never stop learning something new; every place has a story behind it, and it’s important to respect that. Therefore, it’s good to always have an open mind, not only to learn but also to help and understand those going through the cultural shock process. 


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About the Contributor
Gabriela Vielma
Gabriela Vielma, Writer/Photographer
Gabriela Vielma is a Senior at Cypress Creek High School. She joined photojournalism because she was curious about the class and wanted to try a new class. Vielma enjoyed the course and would like to pursue a career in journalism, she aspires traveling and discovering the world doing so.

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