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How to deal with culture shock as an international student

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Published: 27 September 2022

International students studying(Alexis Brown via Unsplash)

You’ve arrived in England and are ready to start your journey with the University of Sunderland in London – we’re very excited to have you here. At the start of a new chapter of your life in a new country, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of disorientation, confusion, apprehension and anxiety. This is known as culture shock and it’s totally normal. You are not alone and we are here for you.

Life in the UK, and London in particular, can take some getting used to, especially if you’ve moved from somewhere with a completely different culture, language and way of life. But fear not, we’ve put together a quick guide to coping with culture shock that should help you get over your fresh-off-the-boat jitters and have you settled into London and university life in no time.


Talk to others about how you feel

The University of Sunderland in London welcomes international students from all over the globe, many of whom are coming to the UK for the first time. So, there’s a good chance you won’t be the only person on your course who feels like they’ve dived in at the deep end. Talk to your classmates about how they’re adjusting and find ways to deal with the differences and the challenges together. Also, your lecturers are also here to support you, while the university’s health and wellbeing team are always available for a chat if you need to get something off your chest.

Get in touch with the health and wellbeing team via email:


Find a taste of home

London is a very diverse and international city and it’s easier to connect with people from your home country than you think. Search on social media sites such as Facebook for communities and meet-up groups where you’ll be able to connect with people from your homeland who have gone through exactly what you’re experiencing and can give you tips on how to cope. Also, try searching for restaurants that serve your favourite foods from home. Sometimes, something as simple as a good meal and a familiar taste is enough to calm you down and have you feeling better.


A classic shot of London with a red bus and Big Ben(Lucas Davies via Unsplash)

Learn as much about London as possible

A good way to connect with a new culture, country, or city is to learn more about it. The more familiar you become with a place, the less alien it feels and the more comfortable you become. Visit some of the city’s best museums, explore its vastly contrasting neighbourhoods and take a walk in its famous parks. London is a big, daunting place, but once you scratch the surface, you’ll start to feel at home.


Improve your English

While obviously you already speak English if you’re doing a course at our university, there’s often a big difference between the English you studied in your home country and how it is spoken by native speakers. London is a huge melting pot full of different accents, dialects and slang, so you may end up meeting an English speaker and not having a clue what they’re talking about. We suggest you watch local TV, listen to the radio and talk to as many people as possible (although maybe not on the Tube). The more of the local lingo you pick up, the more you’ll feel like you belong.

You can join our Academic English Language Course, designed for UoSiL students, to improve your academic English language, with different topics each week, including Techniques, Essay Structure, and Academic Style. For further information:


Find out more about our university by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.