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How to Handle Change in a New Environment

How to Handle Change in a New Environment

Written by Alexander College in Student Life on June 3, 2019

Moving to a new country to study is an exciting change.

There are many things to look forward to, such as having a new city to explore, new friends to make, and perhaps even a newfound sense of freedom and independence.

But with this often comes some unexpected challenges, including loneliness, confusion and longing for the familiarity and comfort of your home country.

Many students aren’t prepared for how hard it can be to adjust to a new culture. That said, having difficulty with adjustment is so common there’s a name for it…”culture shock”.

When the excitement of being in a new place fades, and the reality of being so far from home sets in, we often find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and unhappy about the differences between our home culture and the new culture.

The good news is that this feeling is normal, and there are some strategies to make it easier to adjust to your new life in Canada.

Two students laughing in front of Alexander College campus
Alexander College students enjoying kayaking at Deer Lake

Get Involved

One of the best ways to immerse yourself into a new culture is to get involved at school. Alexander College has many clubs and social events to help you meet new people and try new activities.

Make Friends

It’s hard to say goodbye to lifelong friends at home, but you have an opportunity to build new friendships in Canada. Try to associate with positive people that make you feel good.

Stay in Touch with Family

Modern technology makes it easy to stay connected with your loved ones far away. Your family will want to hear about your new experiences in Canada, so scheduling time to communicate regularly may help alleviate homesickness and provide you with some emotional support.

Share Your Feelings

Often, when we’re going through a difficult time, we withdraw and spend less time with others. However, this can intensify feelings of depression and frustration. Talk to people (friends, advisors, counselor) about how you’re feeling. Many students and other newcomers to Canada have been through the same thing and may offer an empathetic ear and some valuable advice.

Students making friends at Alexander College Vancouver
Group of students posing for a picture

Embrace Diversity

Alexander College has students from all over the world, and our diversity makes us stronger.

How to do this:

  • Start a club
  • Get involved in multicultural activities
  • Learn about the cultures of your classmates and new people you meet in Vancouver
  • Take the time to educate others about what you love about your own culture

Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health

Stay active, eat well, and get enough sleep. Try to maintain a positive attitude and be patient with yourself through the adjustment process. Understand that this big change might be hard on you. It will take time, but you will feel like yourself again.


Take the opportunity to explore BC and Canada, if you have the chance. Trying new things is exciting and sharing the experience with others will help you build new bonds.

It may take some effort, but in time you will find that you will get used to the new culture, develop routines, make friends, and soon this new place may also feel like home.

Are you looking for someone to speak to? Do you feel homesick?

For more information on Health and Wellness Services at AC, click HERE 


Contact Kerry-Anne Holloway, our Health and Wellness Counsellor for confidential appointments with students at 604-780-1799 or 

Registered Clinical Counsellor and Canadian Certified Counsellor at Alexander CollegeAuthor: 

Kerry Anne is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Canadian Certified Counsellor and loves to work with students at Alexander College in her role as the Health and Wellness Counsellor. I’m here to offer students support, a fresh perspective and guidance in times of stress or difficulty. When I’m not working I love travelling, keeping active, hanging out with friends and family and finding the spiciest food in Vancouver and abroad.

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