International Office Culture Shock and Adjustment
CULTURE SHOCK & ADJUSTMENT
Adjusting to Life in a New Culture
International students spend the first few weeks in Crawfordsville settling in and getting adjusted. Adjustment, however, is often not accomplished in the first few weeks. It is an on-going process. We hope that the following information will help you to understand this adjustment process, and provide you with some ideas on how to overcome culture shock.
The following web site was created specifically for Chinese students coming to study in the USA. BUT, it has some very good and practical information for any student or visitor.
The Four Stages of Cross-Cultural Adjustment
The Honeymoon Stage
The honeymoon stage is characterized by feelings of exhilaration,
anticipation, and excitement. You are fascinated with everything that is
new. You are embarking on your "dream come true", study in the United
States. You may feel eager to please the people around you. You display
a spirit of cooperation, and show an active interest in others. Because
you want to please others, you may nod or smile to indicate
understanding when in fact you have not understood. When the
misunderstandings mount up, you move into the second stage of cultural
adjustment, the hostility stage.
The Hostility Stage
The second stage of cultural adjustment is characterized by feelings of
frustration, anger, anxiety, and sometimes depression. You may feel
frustrated by college and governmental bureaucracy and weary of speaking
and listening in English daily. It can be upsetting to realize that,
although you have studied English, you don’t seem to understand anyone.
Sleep patterns may be disrupted. You may suffer from indigestion and be
unable to eat. You might react to your frustration by rejecting your new
environment. The internal reasoning might be, "if I feel bad, it is
because of them". At this point it is likely that you will display some
hostility towards American culture. Some of this hostility is translated
into fits of anger over minor frustrations, excessive fear and mistrust
of Americans, frequent absenteeism, lack of interest, lack of
motivation, and, at worst, complete withdrawal. Many academic problems
begin during this stage.
The Humor Stage
The third stage follows when you begin to feel relaxed in new situations
and begin to laugh at misunderstandings and minor mistakes that would
have caused major headaches during the hostility stage. You will have
made some friends and you are able to manage the size and complexity of
The Home Stage
The final stage occurs when you not only retain allegiance to your home
culture, but also "feel at home" in the United States. You have
successfully adjusted to the norms and standards of this University and
this country. You should be commended for the ability to live
successfully in two cultures!
Tips for coping with the "Hostility Stage"
Talk to someone from your home country. It can be very helpful to discuss your concerns with someone who shares your cultural perspective. ISA may be able to put you in touch with students from your home country.
Meet Americans. A sympathetic American can provide you with insight on cultural norms and standards in the United States. Call or stop by the International Office for a list of programs designed to help you meet Americans.
Join a club or organization. This is an excellent way to meet
people who share similar interests. Stop by the Dean’s Office or the
International Office for a list of Registered Student Organizations.
Put things into perspective. It is common for people to experience culture shock when living in a new country. The vast majority of people go on to not only have a successful experience, but to truly enjoy their stay in the United States. Try to find the positive aspects of your stay here.
Discuss your concerns with the staff of the International Office.
Award for Summer Study in Europe
Jack Montgomery, Sevilla, SPAIN
Tyler Andrews, Florencia, Italy
Ronnie Posthauer, Goethe Institute Germany
Givens Award for the study of Western Art in Europe
Fall 2014 Winners
Ao Deng, London, England
Daniel Craig, Heidelberg, Germany
Christian Lopac, Heidelberg, Germany
Tung Tran, London, England
Both of the above awards are competitive, and require prior approval to study off-campus. Please contact David Clapp in the
International House for details regarding both awards and the application procedures