International Students: Welcome to ManiSNOWba!

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About the Author
Sarah Nantais

Sarah Nantais

Sarah Nantais is a Virtual Help Desk Navigator at Campus Manitoba. She contributes to "The Navigator," our monthly blog focused on student life.

Person walking through snowfall on a bridge

Enjoy the snow!

International students have a lot to learn about when they come to a new country. Aside from studying, there’s learning about the new culture, weather, food and holidays, to name a few. This can be an exciting time but it can also be a little bit overwhelming. It’s a lot to learn and it can be tiring at the same time. This post is all about how to find the signs of culture shock and what to do about them. If you’re missing home and family, this time of the year can be hard to deal with these feelings. You’re not alone!

We’ll connect you to the International Student departments at our partners and we’ll also explain what culture shock is. Hopefully the tools and resources we lay out for you in today’s post are going to help you through this transition in your life. Pour yourself a nice warm cup of tea and take a deep, relaxing breath. It’s time to keep scrolling!

Culture Shock: What is it?

Culture shock, or culture acclimatization, is a process that any person will go through when they are in a new environment and culture. This can happen to people who move from a small town to a big city, but it’s most common for people who move from one country to another. This is a completely normal thing! You may feel a range of emotions from happy to sad, excited to frustrated. These changes may happen every day. Sometimes they may happen for weeks. Because we’re all different people, we’ll experience this in different ways. Some people will be very affected, some will not. The important thing to understand is that there’s nothing wrong with you. I’ve gone through this process many times in my life from moving all across the country.

Some people will be very affected, some will not. Some will be in any of these stages for weeks or years longer than others. There are five stages that you’ll go through:

  • Honeymoon Stage – This is usually the first. You’ll be happy and excited during this one.
  • Frustration and Depression – This usually comes right after. Things are different, you might feel like no one understands you and it can be hard to be positive about where you’re living and how things are done.
  • Steady Adjustment – Things aren’t so bad. You’ll start finding small things that you like and may feel happy again.
  • Adaptation – You’ll really feel like you belong and you’ll feel comfortable.
  • Re-Entry Shock – This happens when you go home and things will feel really different. Not quite like you expected.

To learn the symptoms check out an article at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

International Student Offices

Now that you know what culture shock is, you’ll need a hand managing it. Your best resource is going to be the office on campus devoted to international students. Here you should find someone connected with your community who can help you access resources and support for this and any other issue you might be having.


A photo of moon lake in the spring or summer

Welcome to Manitoba! There is hope!

If you are looking for resources on your campus, you can connect with a counsellor on campus as well. Counsellors are for all students: this includes international students. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Your mental health is just as important as your physical and academic health. You can also help yourself by being active in your community by volunteering or joining a club. Being connected with people will help you feel less isolated and you’ll make new friends. There may even be a cultural community you identify with that you can join. Your international student advisor should be able to help with that.

Surviving the Snow

It’s cold in Manisnowba. I’ve lived in several provinces in this vast country in my life and nowhere has been colder than Manitoba. Winter is just beginning so you have some time to get stocked up on good cold weather supplies. Depending on what country you’re from, seeing snow and cold weather might not be new to you. It’s really important to understand that the cold in Canada might be different than the cold you’re used to. You’ll find some great resources on handling winter in a two-part article by Canadian Immigrant.

When living on the prairies, we’re exposed. There’s nothing to stop the wind from blowing right through us. I’ve found the wind to be the worst part about winter in Manitoba. I’ve lived here for four years and I’m still cold every winter. Each year my tolerance for winter goes up though. I can play outside with my children now, which I think is a huge improvement.

You’ll do just fine if you can remember to stay warm and stay connected to the people around you.

About “The Navigator”

“The Navigator” is a monthly blog about student life by the Campus Manitoba Virtual Help Desk. Check back monthly to find more tidbits of wisdom with “The Navigator”. You’ll be sure to find all kinds of information that will help you be successful in your educational journey. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news and information!