What Is Culture Shock?

Culture shock is a term that is most frequently mentioned of foreign living experiences for beginners. It refers to the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty, confusion and so on) felt when people have to operate within a different and unknown cultural or social environment like a foreign country.

Culture is way too complex to explain logically. Culture shock always grows out of the difficulties in adapting to a new culture. When international students are trying to merge into the culture of the U.S, or any other nation, most of them are shocked for the first time.

Stages of Culture Shock

There are several stages of culture shock as a process for new comers to go through. Normally, there are a fascination period, a frustration period, a gradual adjustment period, and an acceptance period


As mentioned in the previous video, when people first arrived at a foreign country speaking a different language, the first problem met is probably the language. In most cases, foreigners cannot speak as fluently as natives. And there is a certain amount of hesitation for them to speak out because their poor language ability. Also, it is not easy for international students to fully understand the underlying meaning of some words. Hence come the communication gap and lack of understanding.


Because of culture shock, international students sometimes feel confused to know what is appropriate and what is not. Here are some advice on how to cope with this situation:

1. Take it easy and calm down. Don’t overwhelm yourself and get nervous.

2. Observe the new culture and keep an open mind. Based on your observation of the natives to decide what to do or not to do. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

3. Get to know the community. Walk around the campus. Get familiar with the libraries. Watch a movie outside. Do some shopping. Try a local restaurant or cafeterian.

4. Work on improving the English. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to try. Most Americans will be pleased to teach you about their country and customs.

5. Visit the International Center at school.

6. Establish a routine. Have regular mealtimes, sleeptimes, study hours and exercise hours. Get familiar with your schedule for classes. Make yourself accustomed to your new life as soon as possible.