International Student Activities

Culture Shock

When people move to another country and culture, they sometimes experience "culture shock," a disorientation, dissatisfaction, and frustration, sometimes even anger, that the new culture is so different from the one from which they came. They also may have different expectations about how life would be in the U.S.


  • Frustration with University bureaucracy and American customs
  • Weariness of speaking English
  • Odd sleeping patterns
  • Feeling constantly tired
  • Yearning for familiar foods and spices – or not feeling hungry at all
  • Lack of interest in studies
  • Lack of motivation
  • Drinking alcohol excessively
  • Escaping to places where there is very little contact with other people
  • Talking about "them" and blaming "them" for your problems
  • Missing class frequently and avoiding social activities
  • Weight gain or loss


Suggested Ways of Coping with Culture Shock

  • Remember that it is natural for you to experience culture shock.
  • Try to relax or take a nap.
  • Put little things that bother you into perspective.
  • Get in touch with a friend or family member at home.
  • Find someone you can talk with in your native language.
  • Get active! Participate in sports, take a long walk, or run.
  • Join an international student club.
  • Talk about it. Stop in to see any of the staff members in the Center for International Affairs in Horrabin 6.
  • Make an appointment to talk with a counselor in the University Counseling Center (call 298-2453).


Cultural Adjustment

Culture shock is not quite as shocking or as sudden as most people expect. It is part of the process of learning a new culture and is called cultural adaptation. You may experience some discomfort before you are able to function well in a new environment. The important thing to remember is to take it as part of a normal process that nearly everyone goes through. Anticipating future events and situations make it easier to deal with them when they happen. For example, it helps to learn about American culture, customs, and traditions before arrival in the country. It is always beneficial for international students and scholars to build clear expectations regarding the educational system in the United States. It is also a good idea to anticipate your departure and plan ways to maintain relationships with people at home while you are away.

View more information about American culture.