What is culture shock?

Most international students will experience some difficulties adjusting to a new country and culture. Feeling homesick is totally normal, and should be expected.

Common signs of culture shock

Everyone experiences culture shock differently, listed below are some common signs and symptoms of culture shock:

  • Feeling homesick, sad, frustrated, depressed angry or/and lonely
  • Feeling worried about your health
  • Headaches and pains
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Feeling overwhelmed by small problems
  • Feeling shy and insecure

Ways to cope with culture shock

Remember to be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much too soon. Listed below are some useful suggestions to help cope with culture shock:

  • Make sure to attend the International Welcome Day and your Programme Orientation
  • Stay in touch with friends or other people you trust
  • Exercise, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy food
  • Use English as often as possible, if it’s your second language – confidence with English will help you adjust more quickly
  • Learn as much as you can about New Zealand culture, values and attitudes, and try to respect them
  • Be open to learning new things and spend time doing things you enjoy
  • Keep your sense of humour

Support on campus

Remember to be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much too soon. Listed below are some useful suggestions to help cope with culture shock:

Unitec Counselling Services

If you need to talk to someone, we do have a free counselling service for students on campus. For more information about this service, visit the Counselling Services page.

Go to Counselling Services page

International Student Advisors

Our International Student Advisors are available for you to talk about any issues or concerns you may have. They can also connect you to a range of internal and external support services to help support you while studying with us. To book an appointment, see our Student Advisors page.

Go to International Student Advisors page

Student Connectors

At the International Welcome Day, you’ll get to meet the international student connectors who are here to support you. They are current international students who volunteer their time to help support other international students. 

Go to Student Connectors page

Student Clubs and Sports

Clubs are a great way to meet new people and make new friends here. Take a look at what clubs are on campus, see our Student Clubs page.

Go to Student Clubs (Clubs and Sports) page

International Emergency Contact Number

Current international students, for 24/7 support and advice in emergencies, call us on 021 829 510.

Support off campus

Listed below are services that you can access while off campus:

Depression Helpline

0800 111 757 (24/7)
Free text 4202 (24/7)
Email: via this online form

Go to Depression Helpline website


0800 543 354 or within Auckland 09 522 2999 (24/7)

Go to Lifeline website

Mental Health Crisis Team

0800 800 717 (24/7)

Go to Mental Health website


If it's an emergency phone 111, if you feel you or someone else is at risk or harm.

Go to Police website


0800 376 633 (for 24/7 phone counselling)
Free text 234 between 8am and midnight
Email: talk@youthline.co.nz

Go to Youthline website


Call or text 1737 any time, 24 hours a day, for support from a trained counsellor. This service is completely free.

Go to 1737 website

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