Whether you’re going to a country that may feel familiar or somewhere that you expect will feel quite different from the U.S., you will find marked differences between your host country and your own. Having a better understanding of culture and the impact it has on you and others can prepare you for entering a new cultural space.

Adapting to a New Culture

Everyone who studies abroad goes through the process of adjusting to a new culture — whether mild or extreme. It is a perfectly normal, if stressful, part of your study-abroad experience. Culture adjustment happens in several stages. First, you will probably feel elated by your new surroundings. After this “honeymoon” phase, you may start to feel frustrated or irritated, or feel that you will never adapt. Eventually, you will begin to feel more comfortable, and ultimately you may feel completely incorporated into your host culture or that you are forgetting your American ways. In the early, negative stage of culture shock, it’s important to remember that you WILL get over it. By the time your study-abroad program ends, you may feel such a part of your host culture that you will experience “reverse culture shock” when you return to the U.S.

Knowing that culture shock AND reverse culture shock are normal and anticipating them are the first steps to managing them. You can find valuable tips about culture, cultural adjustment, and coping with culture shock from many resources, including those listed below.


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