International Center 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 College.
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.