Life in Australia / Culture Shock

Culture Shock

Adapting to new surroundings

Living and studying in Australia is an exciting adventure, but it can also present a range of challenges. Adjustment to a new country and culture is a process that occurs gradually and takes time. The values, beliefs, traditions and customs of your home country may vary greatly from those in Australia and adapting to the Australian way of life may take some time.

It's not unusual to experience culture shock. Culture shock is the feeling of being out of place in an unfamiliar environment. The initial excitement of moving to a new country often subsides when you're faced with different cultural expectations and challenges. Dealing with these challenges can result in feelings of frustration and a longing for home.


Most people who travel experience homesickness at some stage. These feelings are normal and are often caused by simply missing your lifestyle, family or friends.

Homesickness can affect your studies and how you interact with your classmates. If you feel homesick, it's a good idea to talk to somebody about your feelings. There are associations and clubs for particular cultures or religions that you might like to join. This may help you find support from people who have experienced the same challenges.

Make sure you give yourself some time to adjust to your new surroundings and cultural environment. It's important to maintain contact with your family and friends at home particularly during the adjustment period. Remember that you are here to experience and enjoy a new and different culture!

Useful tips 

  • Listen, observe and ask questions
     Give yourself time to observe those around you. Notice the verbal and non- verbal communication that people use. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something. Australians are very friendly and approachable people.
  • Become involved
     Make an effort to meet people and get involved in campus activities and in the wider community. Have an open attitude as you meet new people and try new experiences.
  • Sense of perspective
     Remind yourself that living and studying abroad is a challenge and it is normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed at times. Many of your class mates are probably feeling the same as you. Make a list of the reasons why you initially wanted to study in Australia.
  • Maintain some routines and rituals from your own country
     This can include small things like eating the same types of food as you did at home. You can also get involved in celebrations of your national day or develop links with your own cultural group.
  • Ask for help when you need it!
     The most useful tip is to always ask for help if you need it. TAFE Queensland has a number of support services available including professional counsellors and our International Student Support Advisors who can put you in touch with support groups in the wider community.
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