CULTURE SHOCK? How To Understand and Embrace It!

By: Gao

First and foremost…
What is culture shock? Culture shock is the array of emotions one feels when being exposed to a different cultural environment or perspective than their own. This can be applied to anyone and everyone in situations that are new to them. For me, it was moving two and a half hours away from home for college. For others, this may include: moving to a different state, starting a new job, going to workshops or conferences, and much more. There is not one way to experience culture shock; it is perceived and rooted differently for individuals because of their unique experiences, modes of processing, and backgrounds. 

The 4 Stages of Culture Shock

  1. Honeymoon Stage — this the first stage in a situation where everything seems to be going great! Life is good, no stress, new beginnings, all hopeful, and exciting expectations for what is to come. 
  2. Crisis — things take a turn and become more seriously rooted. You’re realizing this is completely different than what you expected, or wanted, and now you’re stuck. You don’t know where to go, you’re confused, anxious, or scared even. This is often the most difficult stage to be in. Breathe, it’s going to be okay!
  3. Recovery and Adapt — here, you identify the problem, speak your truth, understand the context, and find what is going to help stabilize you and neutralize the situation. You are finding your grounding and making the effort to battle your crisis. You’ve got your head in the right place, keep going!
  4. Acceptance — in the end, you come to accept it. Move along with your life, onto the next chapter, and let things flow. It is time to begin again and indulge in what you have gained from this experience. 

NOTE: This is not a set flow of how culture shock may hit YOU. Some people may go straight into the crisis stage, recover, adapt, and then honeymoon. Others, may jump back and forth between stages and that’s okay. 

Image: rock stacks on log on rocky beach shoreline
Text: culture shock: how to understand and embrace it.

Your experiences are valid!
My parents came from camps in Thailand during the Vietnam War as refugees. This makes me a first generation Hmong American womxn and fuels my unique experiences and understanding of life. However, my “adulting” journey and bicultural identity pushes different cultural perceptions and ambitions from those of my parents. Deciding to leave home to further my education instead of marriage, ignited a protest between me and my parents. Thus a crisis is born, and so the stages unravel. 

A few weeks into the semester, I started to find my grounding. I got a job, became close with my roommates, and accepted that my experiences and perceptions were valid. I discovered resources through my roommates, advisor, counselor, and even my job as a peer educator!  It made the reality of leaving my home an opportunity to create my own. Despite the many times I felt alone, confused, and scared I came to find that I wasn’t. There was a whole community here ready to support and help me; the honeymoon stage was finally kicking in.  

How can this apply to you?
As a college student, you are being exposed to a very different world around you. One you may not have ever known or have only dipped your feet in. It is a time where freedom is given, responsibilities run toward you, and motivation and passion begin to ride the highs and lows. And it doesn’t end here! 

The process and stages of culture shock will come and go all throughout your life. In your career, home, life goals, education, and much more. That is OKAY! These four stages will help you understand yourself and push through the many crises you will come across. It is not a program that you graduate from after you have completed the last step, it is an everlasting mechanism that aids you in recognizing the control you have on your life, and future.  

Of Possible Interest:
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Diversity in the Workplace – all our blog posts on the topic
Now That You’re On the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Gao’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Markus Spiske

Benefits of Using a Planner

By: Stephanie

Often times, we find ourselves overwhelmed in the pile of work we’ve accumulated over the day, week, or more! We either have meetings to plan, practices to go to, or exams to prepare for. I am here to give you reasons as to why you should use a planner.

If You Write It, You Won’t Forget It
Many people I talk to, surprisingly, do NOT use a planner. Shocker statement, yes. They’ve told me they have their brain to retain information as well as “remember” these events as they come. However, I know that is absolutely not the case for everyone.

Some of us don’t have the best memory, in fact, “within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of fifty percent of the information you presented” (source). We are so busy with our work, we tend to forget what we just said! However, writing it down will help remind you what tasks you need to have completed before the end of the day. You won’t have to use your brain space to remember these that you need to complete and forgetting might be a big yikes in the future.

Text: Benefits of using a planner
Image: planners stacked on white background

Priorities, priorities, priorities!
Once you’ve viewed all of your tasks, you’re at least not panicking about what you may have forgotten to do! Now you can organize what needs to be done first. Organizing your to-do list will help you with time management and finish your work efficiently. Start with the deadlines. If something is due three weeks from now versus the next day, starting with the closer due date makes much more sense than starting a project that is due later. 

Health Benefits
Having a planner is a stress reliever. When I look at my planner, I know that I feel less stressed because I know exactly what needs to be done. I also use my planner for work because my schedule is not always consistent and meetings are very frequent. Keeping a planner will help you because it is a stress reliever that will keep you mentally healthy.

Procrastinating… I think not!
Most of us have good habits but a bad habit that some of us may have is procrastination. Planners keep you from procrastinating! After looking at your planner, you might have so much to do that, there’s no time to put it off. So, make it a good habit to use your planner and stomp your bad habit of procrastinating. The more work you finish before bed, the more sleep you’ll get!

Develop A Skill
Using a planner can help you develop many helpful skills that are beneficial for you. You will stay more organized and on top of your game from planning what you have to do. Another skill you’ll slowly develop is time management. Because you will be prioritizing your tasks and work that needs to be completed, using your time wisely is very critical. Lastly, you’ll develop strategic planning. Prioritizing your tasks and finishing things when they need to get done will maximize your productivity and help keep you healthy. You will be able to fit more activities in your schedule and even get that exercise that you’ve been putting off since New Year’s!

Links to favorite planners: Bullet Journaling; Planners

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Stephanie’s other posts

Tips for Time Management

By: Kendra

In starting my second year here at UMD, I have found myself having to make some changes from how I lived out my first two semesters here. Specifically, I have had to put more thought and effort into managing my time. During my first year at UMD, I took only 15 credits per semester and I took them all in-person. Also, I worked only about 10 hours per week. I was involved in intramurals, psychology club, and dedicated to working out, which has all remained. This year, though, I am taking 18 credits, 12 of which are online, and working 20-25 hours per week. Because of this increase in coursework and time spent working, I needed to add and change some of my previous habits in order to better manage my time. I’m sharing my tips with you for how I make sure I get everything done when it is supposed to be done: 

Prioritize Sleep
If you’re anything like me, getting enough sleep is CRUCIAL. I cannot function productively on less than eight hours of sleep each night and I strive to get nine. Of course, I want to stay up late watching movies, spending time with my friends, or catching up on my favorite Netflix series, but I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, my productivity the next day will plummet. So how do I do it? I give myself a bedtime. If I know I need to be awake tomorrow morning at 8 AM, I make sure I am in bed with my phone and computer powered off by 11 PM the night before. I am the type of person who needs a while to unwind before falling asleep, so I try to be in bed even earlier so I can watch a show or read for awhile and still get my 9 hours of sleep. This helps me wake up and feel energized to tackle my day.

Text: Tips for Time Management
Image: hour glass with blue sand on a rock beach

Use a Planner
By now, I am sure everyone has heard someone tell them they should really use a planner. I know it sounds cheesy, but believe me, it is so necessary. At the beginning of this semester, I spent hours looking through my class syllabi and writing due dates in my planner. I write every single assignment, project, quiz, and exam due date in my planner, which really helps me plan out my weeks. Then, on Sunday nights, I look at the assignments I have due during the upcoming week and make to-do lists for each day of the week. I like to make a list for each day of the week because it helps me balance the amount of schoolwork I do each day. I find that when I don’t do this, I procrastinate and push tasks to the next day and then I grow frustrated and stressed because I have more to do. I use Post-It notes for my to-dos and then I just stick them in my planner. When I finish an assignment, I cross it off on my to-do list as well as in my actual planner. Let me tell you — this is the best feeling ever. 

Use Google Calendar
Another resource I use when it comes to planning is Google Calendar. I have found that this is pretty hit or miss — some students use it and rely on it completely and others have never even opened it. Because Google is what our campus uses to communicate, I highly suggest using Google Calendar. If you need to meet with a professor, all you need to do is type in their name and you can see when they are busy. This can be done with students, advisors, and anyone on campus, too. For me, Google Calendar helps me plan my days. I have two calendars I use — one visible for everyone and one only I can see. I use my visible calendar for things I don’t mind people seeing such as my work schedule, class schedules, and when I have meetings and such. My other calendar, though, is what I use for my personal life. I schedule when I am going to the gym, time with friends, and really anything I am doing outside of school. What is amazing about Google Calendar is that I can have my work/class schedule visible to everyone and my personal schedule private, but one of my professors will still see everything I have going on if he or she were to look at my calendar. This is because Google just writes ‘Busy’ on time slots that are scheduled privately. Each week, when I am making my to-do lists, I check my calendar to see what I have going on each day, which helps me make realistic to-do lists for each day. 

Stay on Campus
This is definitely something that is much different than last year, as I was always on campus. Now that I live off campus, I have learned that in order to be as productive as possible, I need to stay on campus as much as I can. When I go home, I find myself getting cozy and then not wanting to come back to campus or getting anything done at home. This also requires planning, though. If you have breaks in your days, try your best to stay on campus so you can get some work done. Packing a lunch is also a great way to make sure you are not tempted to go back home throughout your day. Want to get a workout in? Either pack the things you need for the gym and go when your day is done or consider getting a locker in the locker room so you can leave your gym essentials on campus. By staying on campus as much as possible, I find myself accomplishing more and being more productive. It also makes going home at the end of the day super awesome because I typically am done for the day when I get home. 

Take Breaks
This is my final tip for being productive and managing your time. Taking breaks while you are studying or working on assignments is extremely important. Whether it be watching a short Youtube video, getting up and walking around, or just spending a few minutes on your phone, taking breaks will help you be even more efficient because it will keep you from burning out. I like to work for 45 minutes and then take 10-15 minutes to let my brain relax. Sometimes, though, I will take a little break after I finish an assignment to regroup before moving on to the next task. For me, this pushes me to work hard on homework because I know I can rest once I finish or once the time is up. It also helps keep me awake because I don’t allow myself to just sit and work for hours and hours on end. 

The life of a college student is busy — there’s no getting around that. That’s why it is so important to manage your time and make sure you are using it wisely. I had to alter my time management skills from last year to better accommodate to my life this semester. Ultimately, it is up to you to find time management strategies that work for you, but hopefully some of my tips are helpful. 

Best, Kendra 

Of Possible Interest:
Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topic
Healthy on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with resources & articles

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Aron Visuals

Ideas for Lifelong Learning

In the past year, we had a regular series on our Instagram Stories titled either Monday Musing or Wednesday Wisdom (depending on the semester). These topics sprung from conversations our student employees (Eva & Rachel) were having, then they wanted to share them with a wider audience. We’ve decided to group together the topics into overarching ideas and share them here on the blog. Today we’re talking about ideas around pursuing lifelong learning.

Lifelong Learning
We tend to think of our education as a means to an end, but learning from the world around us never has to stop. Choosing to tap into the wealth of knowledge around us can be intimidating, especially once we leave the classroom. Keeping a learner’s mindset can help us grow as individuals, connect with our communities, and engage in life on a deeper level.

Here’s a list of places to start: audiobooks (try your local library for a no cost option) and podcasts; community education classes, reading a book of different genre than usual, taking lessons from someone in your community, watch documentaries, YouTube tutorials, community cultural events, town hall meetings, and the list could keep going.

Image: arching library bookcase filled with books; black & white photo
Text: Ideas for lifelong learning

Reflecting on the Word “Learn”
Sometimes we get so caught up in college that we lose sight of what it is we’re doing here and how we’ll use it outside the classroom.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far? These could be deep or light. How to be a better friend. Take lip balm out of your pocket before doing laundry.

How can you apply what you’re learning now? You do your homework and take your tests, but what are you really learning? Push yourself to consider how you can use it in your own life now or down the road. Maybe you hate that writing class, but you’ll use the skills to craft a cover letter. Time value of money might seem irrelevant, but you might use it to calculate student loans.

What’s one thing you hope to LEARN in the next year? Maybe it’s school or career related, or it’s a new skill. A part history or the world you’ve always wanted to know about? Use your resources!

Knowledge is power, and learning is a process that never ends.

Photo Source: Unsplash | Susan Yin

Tips for Growing Outside Your Comfort Zone

In the past year, we had a regular series on our Instagram Stories titled either Monday Musings or Wednesday Wisdom (depending on the semester). These topics sprung from conversations our student employees (Eva & Rachel) were having, then they wanted to share them with a wider audience. We’ve decided to group together the topics into overarching ideas and share them here on the blog. Today we’re talking about different ways you can stretch and grow outside your comfort zone.

Being a Work in Progress
We often get so focused on the end goals that we lose track of the present moment. Keep taking steps in the direction you want to go and don’t force the outcomes. Your big goals will fall into place as a result of all those mindful small steps, even if those goals aren’t the same as what you had in the beginning.

Taking Risks
In college, you’re faced with many choices & opportunities: What major? Take an out-of-state internship? Study abroad? Double major? Attend a job fair?

Economics taught me there’s always an opportunity cost. We always give up something in pursuit of another. It could be your time, money, or sense of comfort. But rather than avoid risks, I think we’d do well to learn how to leverage it.

Abraham Maslow said, “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” There will be times when the best choice is to take a moment in safety. But there are also times that growing requires a lot of courage.

Risks are going to exist either way, so don’t let them stop you from you’re meant to do.

Image: large leafed green plant on white background
Text: Tips for growing outside your comfort zone

Embracing Growth Opportunities
It isn’t always easy to admit there are areas we need to grow in. But these areas don’t make us inadequate; they’re simply opportunities for us to improve. 

You’ll have many chances in your life to attend speakers, conferences, etc. They may pop up through school, your job, or other activities. Some of these opportunities may call you out of your comfort zone, and not every one will be right for you. Remember, true growth never comes from a place of comfort. 

When deciding whether or not to pursue something, it’s helpful to first know yourself: your strengths, your weaknesses, and where you want to improve. In what ways will (or won’t) this opportunity help you grow in the right direction? Also, realize a professional event can benefit your personal life, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about an area you want to improve in, and take a brave step towards making it happen!

It’s all about becoming a better person than you were yesterday.

Not Settling
There are many areas we might settle for less than the best: final projects we turn in, majors we pursue, jobs we accept, and people we hang around. There are lots of reasons why we might do this. We “don’t have enough time.” It’s the easy option. We fear we can’t do better.

The truth is, you’re going to be the one living the life you’ve built. You’re only going to live the life of your dreams to the degree that you pursue them. There’s a time and place where done is enough, where having a job that pays the bill is necessary. But, the majority of your life will be a result of the choices you make. So make the ones that take you where you want to go!

Turn in the work and take the paths that excite you and build your confidence in the direction you’re headed. And do so boldly.

“Our problem is not that we aim too high, but that we aim too low and hit.” – Aristotle

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College; Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Photo Source: Unsplash | Josh Calabrese

Food for Thought

By: Ashlee

Whether you hate to cook, consider yourself the next Julia Child, or simply enjoy having food on hand 24/7 in your fridge, you do need to eat. The reality is if you eat take-out all the time, your wallet is going empty pretty fast. If all you eat is ramen noodles, you’re going to starve from malnutrition. Yes, it’s cheap, but you need more in your diet than chicken flavoring and noodles. You’ll have to use that kitchen.

It doesn’t have to be as good as your mom’s cooking, and you don’t have to have a kitchen equipped like that of a haute Parisian couture cafe. The fact is, you don’t need lots of expensive kitchen hardware in order to turn out delicious and nutritious meals.

You can find a lot of kitchen need basics at a Salvation Army or at tag sales. Cast iron is easily refurbished and needs only light maintenance, so it lasts for a long time and is well worth the investment. For an idea of what basic kitchen tools your kitchen should have, check out this list at Real Simple.

Many people claim they don’t have the time to cook meals or have the skill to make something tasty. This is simply not true! There are so many quick and easy recipes out there. Not only do they taste great, but they’re actually good for you!

I don’t know about you, but when I select a new recipe to try out, I have a fun time at the grocery store shopping for ingredients. Don’t be shy to ask employees at the grocery store for help if you can’t find something that’s considered standard (like molasses) or difficult to find (like sword fish).

To build your recipe repertoire, start by asking family members for their go-to recipes or the dishes they cook that you absolutely love. If anything, it’ll start as a good foundation for your recipe collection and cooking skills.

Need some great websites to try for new, tasty, and easy recipes? You can never go wrong with the Food Network. In fact, be a couch potato and spend a Saturday watching the Food Network to pick up new skills and see how experts prepare certain items. AllRecipes.com is also a great resource for every single dish imaginable. Katie Lee is one of my favorite chefs, and I love checking out her blog for new recipes. They’re delicious, easy to make, and fairly inexpensive.

That’s your Monday lesson from outside of the college world.

Read Ashlee’s other posts