Culture is commonly defined as the collection of learned and shared values, beliefs, and behavior of a group of people, usually within the same geographic region. When you arrive at your program site, you will quickly observe differences between your own culture and that of your host country. It’s important to recognize that you will go through a cycle of adjustment during your time abroad. Phases typically include:
- Initial Enthusiasm (The Honeymoon): high expectations, excitement with trying new things, everything appears exotic and quaint, limited exposure to culture.
- Culture Shock: more realistic and mixed reactions, frustration with differences, feelings of homesickness common, no set routine, wider exposure to culture.
- Initial Adjustment: aspects of the culture seem “normal,” self-reliance arises, positive attitude towards ability to function in the host country.
- Acceptance: reevaluation of your own cultural values, renewed interest in host country, comfort with daily routine, appreciation or acceptance for differences that were initially frustrating.
If you need assistance while abroad, feel free to talk with your peers and/or the on-site staff regarding your cultural adjustment. Learn how other students deal with culture shock and receive some tips on adjusting to life abroad with the below resources.
How to Overcome Culture Shock
Integrating and Immersing in a Culture Different Than Your Own