Rasha’s Blog – Joining Uni or graduating, beware of culture shock!
Whether you have just arrived to York, or just graduated, I hope this blog can be of benefit to you, specially students with kids. In this blog, I am discussing:
a) The effect of ‘Culture Shock’ on you & your child when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.
b) ‘Reverse Culture Shock’ when the students and/or their kids face the challenges of returning home.
Many of us pay attention to the former, but overlook the latter, while it may be way much harder.
-Moving from a culture and a society that one is used to, to a new environment is hard on adults, but harder on children, given that stability in childhood is very important for building a healthy character. The way you adapt to the new environment will have its impact on yr child. If the child feels that you are worried, scared, and unsure, it’s most likely that yr child will unconsciously and automatically mimic these emotions. Feelings are contagious, and you can sense that, in forms of children nightmares, extra attachments to parents or extra fear of meeting new people.
That’s why it is highly important that you do your best to quickly adapt to the new place you are moving to, read about the place, ask people who have lived there before, etc…
-Try to join the community in the earliest time possible, and make friends with your new neighbours. If you are coming to York, the GSA family network always welcome new comers and has a history of providing great support to students with partners and kids. There are also several International societies that can help putting the negative feelings to a minimum and make up for the feeling of home sickness.
Learning the language of the new place is necessary for you, your kids and your partner. City of York Council provides many free English courses that your family can enrol to. Also using your mother tongue language (reading, writing, and speaking) at home is extremely important.
Be very clear with your kids from the beginning, explain to them how long you plan to stay in the new place, and whether you are there for short or long term period. The confusion in identity and sense of belonging can cause many psychological problems for the children.
If you have just graduated and moving back to your original country, you have the same responsibility to prepare yourself to the reverse cultural shock. Time did not stop when you left your home, and you may find lots of things have changed since then. You need to adapt to your old environment as you would do with a new one, may be with extra effort. Similarly, your children, who you may have given them a certain perception about their own country that might have changed now, need to adapt as well. Following the news and connecting regularly with family and friends help prepare you psychologically and minimise the stress you may encounter trying to re-adapt to the mother culture after having adjusted to another one for many years.
**Many thanks to Sahar el-Nadi, for her valuable contribution to the post.