Val's US culture shock experience

Culture shock: 7 questions with Val from Bulgaria

We were lucky enough to catch up with Val, who features in our culture shock video.

He tells us what he loved, what was difficult and how he over came the infamous culture shock while studying abroad in the US.

Where are you from?

I'm from a small town in West Bulgaria called Sofia. I've lived there with my family all my life and only ever travelled to Greece and Italy for holidays; so flying to the US by myself was a huge leap for me. I was quite nervous.

Where and what did you study?

I studied at Colorado State University; I chose to study an Undergraduate Pathway in Mathematics. I've always enjoyed and been good at maths, and this course allowed me to improve my English language skills at the same time.

What was it first like arriving in the US?

Everyone was so nice to me and made me feel very welcome. It was great at first, but I started to get homesick and feel a little out of place, as the US culture was so new to me. It was like another world and there was so much to take in.

"At first, I had no idea what they were talking about"

What did you find unusual?

In the US, there are a lot of phrases and sayings I had never heard of before. My classmates were saying things like "hit the town" and "give it a shot" and at first I had no idea what they were talking about.

It was also difficult to find Bulgarian food. I missed the taste of home; food in the US is so different. I was used to homemade potato Musaka, cheesy banitsa pastries and Bulgarian salad, Shopska Salata.

How did you make friends?

I cooked with my housemates a lot. It was a great way to taste food from all over the world; I tried Sri Lanka curries, Brazilian BBQ's and homemade Japanese sushi! I tried to recreate some of my grandma's classic Bulgarian dishes too, which went down a treat with my friends. I wasn't very good at cooking before I left home, but I picked up loads of tips from my housemates during my time studying abroad. It was also much cheaper to cook at home than eat out all the time.

How was life in the classroom?

Because I started making friends, I felt more confident in class too. I started to talk to others more, which helped me to improve my English. I felt happy speaking up in class and really began to feel part of a community. I know it sounds cheesy, but Colorado State University really did feel like a little family.

What advice would you give to other students who may be worried about experiencing culture shock?

At first I found it a bit hard, it does take time to adjust to a new culture and new surroundings. But I'm glad I did it, it was so worth it! You just need to be confident and don't let fear hold you back. Always talk to people, as they are probably feeling the same as you.