Skip to content

Prioritizing Mental Health

Traveling to a new culture can be a difficult adjustment, especially if your GO experience is your first time traveling. If you find yourself struggling, there are many resources available and people who want to help you to prioritize your mental health to ensure you get the most out of your GO experience. 

The cultural adjustment process requires psychological flexibility in the face of different customs, beliefs, and living conditions. These new situations may trigger “culture shock” while studying abroad, marked by symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, homesickness, and difficulties eating and sleeping, to name a few. The adjustment process, with all its ups and downs, is a manageable experience for most participants, but sometimes preexisting health conditions can become exacerbated in new settings or new conditions can emerge. Students are encouraged to discuss their GO plans with their mental health provider. All students are asked to complete a wellness plan to start thinking about healthy habits before departure. You are always encouraged to seek assistance if you are not feeling well or have any questions at all.
Prioritizing Mental Health by Suitcase Sal

Tips for adjusting to new culture
  • Don’t isolate yourself. Explore your host city, don’t just stay in your housing.
  • Keep in touch with friends back home but also reach out to people in your host country.
  • Journal.  This can be good for tracking mood and if you’re experiencing culture shock or something more. There are also great mood tracker apps.
  • Recognize your limits and allow yourself to take time for self-care, even if it may take away from an excursion or activity.
  • Remember to eat and get enough sleep. Jetlag and exhaustion can impact mood.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, be mindful of your use. Alcohol may affect you differently when in another place.
  • Expect to feel upset, nervous, frustrated at times and recognize ways to cope. You will face similar challenges abroad as you do at SU.
  • Be patient with yourself. Getting used to a new environment and culture takes time.  Remember, culture shock is natural.
  • Reach out for support. Your Study Abroad Advisor and others back on campus are still here to support you.
In case of emergency, your first point of contact will either be local/national emergency response personnel, or an onsite housing or program director. Be aware of the emergency phone number(s) in your location prior to any potential emergency situation. 
Culture Shock