Cultural Adjustment

Congratulations on being one of more than 500 SDSU students studying abroad this semester! Although the startup can be a bit rough with the way class registration occurs overseas, remember that is part of the reason you took this adventure!  Remember this isn't an easy transition for anyone, but here are a few suggestions:

 

  • Take a deep breath - what might seem strange and different will be seen as new and exciting in just a short time!
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  • Review the important study abroad information provided by the State Department
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  • Get involved!  Join a few clubs or attend a few activities sponsored by your university or local community.
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  • Rely on the locals to explain things to you...When in doubt, ask!  They know better than you why things are the way they are...however, make sure to ask in a polite rather than condescending way.
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  • Take a quick trip away from the local hangout - check out a park, another city close by, or that strange museum you've walked past a hundred times.
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  • Remember to register to vote!  Now that you are a global citizen, make sure to exercise this important responsibility by registering here 
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  • Thinking of staying abroad for an additional semester? Contact your Education Abroad Advisor.

 

Culture Shock

 

CROSS CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT CYCLE - Each stage in this process is characterized by "symptoms" or outward and inward signs representing certain kinds of behavior.

 

     

  • Honeymoon Period: Initially, you will probably be fascinated and excited by everything new. Usually, visitors are at first overjoyed to be in a new culture.
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  • Culture Shock: You are immersed in new problems: housing, transportation, food, language and new friends. Fatigue may result from continuously trying to comprehend and use the second language. You may wonder, "Why did I come here?"
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  • Initial Adjustment: Everyday activities such as housing and going to school are no longer major problems. Although you may not yet be perfectly fluent in the language spoken, basic ideas and feelings in the second language can be expressed.
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  • Mental Isolation: You have been away from your family and good friends for a long period of time and may feel lonely. Many still feel they cannot express themselves as well as they can in their native language. Frustrations and sometimes a loss of self-confidence result. Some individuals remain at this stage.
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  • Acceptance and Integration: You have established a routine (e.g. work, school, social life). You have accepted the habits, customs, foods and characteristics of the people in the new culture. You feel comfortable with friends, associates, and the language of the country.
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  • Return Anxiety, Re-Entry Shock, Re-Integration: These stages should be mentioned, even at Orientation, because of the very important part they play in a visitor's stay in the new culture. It is interesting to note that REENTRY SHOCK can be more difficult than the initial CULTURE SHOCK. You can register for a Re-Entry Conference by clicking here

Resource material: The International Services Office, The George Washington University, Washington D.C. Original source unknown.

 

Tips for dealing with Culture Shock

Here are some suggestions and things to do to help you over the difficulties of culture shock.

  • Keep in touch with friends and family at home.
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  • Try to look for logical reasons why things happen. This may help you view your host culture in a more positive way.
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  • Try not to concentrate on the negative things about your host culture and do not hang around people who do.
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  • Make an effort to restore communication by making friends in your host culture.
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  • Keep your sense of humor!
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  • Set small goals for yourself as high expectations may be difficult to meet.
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  • Speak the language of the country you are in and do not worry if you sometimes make a fool of yourself doing it! (Talk to children. Their language level will be similar to yours!)
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  • Take care of yourself by exercising, getting enough sleep, eating properly and doing things you enjoy.
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  • Try to fit into the rhythm of life in your host culture. Adjust to their time schedule for meals and work.
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  • Find out where people meet and socialize. Make an effort to go to those places and observe.
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  • Draw on your own personal resources for handling stress. You have done it many times before and you can do it again!