It is a challenging, stimulating, and sometimes difficult process to leave home and live in a different country and culture. You not only leave family and friends, but also familiar foods, climate, customs, attitudes, and languages. As every culture has different rules about appropriate behavior, social norms, and expectations, you may feel overwhelmed when you attempt to adjust to many new and different things all at the same time.
As you settle into your life here at Penn, bear in mind that new international students and scholars often go through a series of reactions to their new environment. These reactions are referred to as the "adjustment cycle." In the initial phase, you start off feeling very excited about being in a new place and a new culture, but then find yourself getting homesick once the initial "high" has passed. Then you go on another emotional upswing as you make new friends, begin your classes and start exploring Philadelphia.
The adjustment cycle and its symptoms can be as short as a few days or can cover even years often depending on your length of stay and your strategies for coping.
Remember that no two "adjustment cycles" are alike, that no two people have the same experience! Living abroad is invariably an exciting and satisfying experience, but it also takes effort, patience, and perseverance on your part. Don't feel you are in any way "abnormal" if you experience highs and lows during your time here or if you find yourself longing for the familiarity of "home." These are all natural responses. If at any time you sense that you are stuck in a psychological low-whether for academic or personal adjustment reasons-do not hesitate to make use of the many resource services available on campus. You can speak with a counselor at the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), an ISSS advisor, a residential advisor, a peer counselor, or your academic advisor. Just make sure that you talk with someone about your feelings.