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Personal Advising

Many students, both international and U.S., experience academic and personal difficulties while working on their degrees. This is due to many reasons including dealing with a new academic system, a new culture, pressure to succeed, a change in roles, a change in financial situations, a romantic relationship, or the first time being away from home. If you feel like you need someone to talk to, ISS staff can help, and/or refer you on to other resources.

UMD's Health Services can provide psychological support to help students deal with their personal issues that may affect academic performance. Personal counseling provides a safe environment where people can share their thoughts and feelings, explore concerns, gain new awareness, and make helpful changes.

  • Phone counseling available: 726-7913

Cultural Adjustment

The W-Curve is a predictable pattern of stages that occurs when students experience culture shock. It's normal to have the ups and downs of the W-Curve, and knowing about this may help make the transition easier. At the first signs of culture shock, some international students may think they have made a mistake in coming to the United States or that they have chosen the wrong school. However, if they see that this is just part of the journey that everyone goes through, they may be better able to take it all in stride.

Students start in the honeymoon phase, where they are excited about coming to a new country. After a time, the newness and excitement give way to culture shock. Academic pressures build, social relationships change and students begin to face the reality of the adjustments they're making. Students in culture shock may experience homesickness, frustration and negative feelings about the new culture.

As initial adjustments are made, students experience an upswing as they have successfully managed many of the issues that have come their way. Simply overcoming the culture shock stage brings about a sense of well being. Students fall into a routine as they gain confidence in their ability to handle the academic and social environment of college, and feel they have regained some sense of control and normalcy in their lives. As students continue in their new culture, they may experience feelings of mental isolation. This is a time of feeling caught between two worlds. The new college environment is still not as comfortable as their home country used to be, and home is now not as familiar as it once was. There is a sense of not totally belonging in either place. Students experiencing this stage of their transition must work to integrate their history and home culture with their new identity and university environment.

Finally, as students become more involved in campus opportunities, gain some history with new friends and get to know some faculty and staff members, students begin to feel a true connection to the campus community. A true sense of acceptance,integration, and connectedness occurs when a student has successfully adapted to their new world.

What other international students have to say:

Don't stay alone in your room every night. Go with a friend to one of the many events on campus. Get involved with the International Club or other campus organizations. Travel. Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. Do not be afraid to try new words , new activities, or practice your English. Volunteer at a local community organization.

The first six weeks of your freshman year are a crucial time for making new connections. This is the time when intramural sports teams are forming, musical ensembles are starting, clubs and organizations are recruiting new members, and when many other students are eager to make friends. Take advantage of this opportunity by being open to new experiences!


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Last modified on 09/23/14 12:50 PM
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