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What You Should Know About Adjusting to a New Culture


What You Should Know About Adjusting to a New Culture The Learning Resource Center Loyola Marymount University 310-338-2847 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What You Should Know About Adjusting to a New Culture

What You Should Know About Adjusting to a New
  • The Learning Resource Center
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • 310-338-2847

How do you feel about living in Los Angeles and
attending Loyola Marymount University?
Happy? Fearful? Excited? Depressed?
If you answered yes to any of these questions,
then we have good news for you.
You are perfectly normal!
In fact, most people who live in a new culture
for very long experience these and many other
conflicting emotions.
At first, the visitor usually feels fascinated
with the new country. However, after many days
or weeks of struggling with a new language and
different customs,
he or she typically begins to feel a roller
coaster of emotions.
This experiences is often referred to as
Culture Shock
Sounds scary, right? Well, its not as bad as it
sounds. Culture shock does not hit like a
lightening bolt. It is not fatal, and it need
not be debilitating.
If you take the time to learn what to expect from
this process of cultural adjustment, you should
survive it just fine, as millions of people
before you have.
One good thing about culture shock is that it is
predictable. In fact, most experts agree that it
involves a four-step process of adjustment that
tends to repeat itself in cycles.
The steps may not always occur in the exact order
they will be presented here, and some steps may
be skipped by some people.
Remember, everyone is different, and the way you
adjust to a new culture may not be exactly the
same way your friends adjust.
Step One The Honeymoon Period
  • During the first few days, weeks, or months, the
    visitor is usually happy to be in the new
    culture. Everything seems exciting and new, the
    people are interesting and the future looks

Step Two The Irritation Period
  • After the first few days, weeks, or months, the
    newcomer may begin to feel like a fish out of
    water from constantly straining
  • to perform well in a
  • foreign environment.

Mental and emotional fatigue often set in at this
point. The visitor starts to feel stressed and
frustrated from constantly trying to negotiate in
a language that may be quite different from what
he or she learned in textbooks.
Situations that a student could handle easily at
home require twice the effort in the new country.

Finding housing, registering for classes, making
friends, understanding peoples behavior and
responding appropriately can begin to feel
It is common at this point for the visitor to
sometimes feel hostile toward the people of the
new culture, who dont seem to notice the great
difficulty that the newcomer is experiencing.
Some newcomers may begin to feel that they do not
belong, and may be inclined to withdraw from
contact with members of the new culture.
Step Three Initial Adjustment
  • With more time spent in the new culture, everyday
    activities eventually start becoming easier.

  • The student begins to understand and communicate
    better in the new language, and the customs and
    expectations of the new culture become clearer.

  • The newcomer feels more able to get the
    information he or she needs and begins to feel
    relieved as he or she succeeds at important
    tasks, such as writing papers or participating in

  • Other people may comment to the student that he
    or she seems more relaxed or happier.

Step Four Acceptance and Integration
  • The student begins to feel at home in the new
    culture. He or she starts to realize that it has
    both good and bad things to offer, like any

  • The student learns to accept the behavior,
    customs, food and characteristics of the people
    in the new culture. He or she develops a greater
    sense of belonging.

  • At this point, the
  • student has
  • successfully
  • adapted.

Returning Home
  • On returning home to visit or to live, many
    students experience a re-entry shock similar to
    the four-step process just described. However,
    the stages of re-adjusting to ones home culture
    are usually shorter and less intense.

Individual Differences
  • While most experts agree that all students
    experience some degree of culture shock, the
    degree to which it is felt generally depends upon

  • language ability, emotional support, how long
    the visitor will stay, and how different the
    cultures are.

Symptoms of Culture Shock
  • The symptoms of culture shock are numerous.
    Among them are
  • negative changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • irritability, sadness, frustration
  • being more easily angered than usual

  • feelings of hostility toward the new culture and
    its people
  • great homesickness
  • withdrawal from people
  • loneliness
  • inability to concentrate
  • depression
  • loss of self-confidence
  • recurrent illnesses

How You Can CopeWith Culture Shock
  • 1. If you develop symptoms of culture shock,
    remember that this is perfectly normal. Millions
    of students before you have survived culture
    shock, and you will too.

  • 2. Keep in touch with your home country. Call
    home regularly, watch international television
    channels, and keep personal photographs where you
    can see them.

  • 3. Take good care of yourself. Eat well,
    exercise regularly, and be sure you get enough
    sleep. Dont fall into the trap of trying to
    study all night to make up for difficulty
    listening in class. That will just create more
    problems for you.

  • 4. Get involved. Make an effort to get out
    of your room, meet people, develop friendships,
    go out for coffee, study in groups, and join
    clubs. Youll feel better, adjust more quickly,
    and enjoy your experience at LMU much more this

  • 5. Ask questions if you dont understand
    something. Most Americans will be happy to
  • help you.

  • 6. Identify a specific American who is
    friendly and under-standing, and talk to that
    person about specific situations and your
    feelings about them. It will be helpful to you
    to understand how an American perceives the
    situations you discuss.

  • 7. Try not to label things either good or bad as
    compared to your own culture. Most cultural
    differences are just thatdifferences.

  • 8. Take advantage of the tutoring and language
    support services available to you through the
    Learning Resource Center. To make an appointment,
    call 310-338-2847.

  • 9. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to someone!
    Call other international students who are going
    through similar experiences or call family back

  • 10. Call the Office for International
  • Students and Scholars at
  • 310-338-2937.

  • 11.Call LMUs Student Psychological Services at
  • 310-338-2868 to make an appointment with a
    therapist. If you feel you are having an
    emergency, a therapist will see you without an

  • Remember to be patient with yourself. Adjusting
    to a new culture takes time, and it isnt easy
    for anyone.

  • However, if you know what to expect from the
    process of cultural adjustment and do your best
    to follow the tips outlined here, you should
    adjust just fine.

  • In fact, you may find, as many students before
    you have, that living in a new culture becomes
    one of the most rewarding experiences of your

  • We at LMU are glad you will have that experience
    with us.
  • Welcome!
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