I Have “Culture Shock?”
Yes. Whether they want to admit it or
not, anyone who moves to a place where people’s language, behavior, ideas,
and ways of thinking are different will experience some degree
of “culture shock.”
Culture shock can be understood as a set of
feelings a person has when faced with a very new living situation.
- excitement and stimulation
- tiredness (sometimes made worse by
- depression (low energy, lack of
motivation to do anything)
- anger and hostility toward the
- anxiety and sometimes paranoia
whether they have made a mistake in going to the new
A New Student’s
“ The first two weeks were a kind of a honeymoon….MORE
Some new students are
more affected by these feelings than others. The feelings
last longer for some people
than for others. Some people feel reasonably comfortable in
their new setting within a few weeks; for most people the period
is longer—several months, or a year or more.
Culture shock can also set in or recur after someone has been
in a new place for a period of time, even years after arrival.
For example, someone might realize after a long time in the
new place that an assumption they had been making about the
local people was not correct. They then need to reinterpret
things they previously thought they understood.
Culture shock is not necessarily a bad thing. It can make
you more alert and inquisitive, and give you motivation to
learn more about the place you are now living. It can encourage
you to look for new ways of thinking and acting, so you have
a better chance of getting what you want. It can make you a
more flexible person. Culture shock is not an illness that
requires medical treatment. Normally, it passes with time.
(A student experiencing a prolonged period of depression, though,
should visit a foreign student adviser or a mental-health counselor.)
Many Chinese students report having “reverse culture
shock” when they return to their country. Perhaps without
realizing it, they have changed in important ways while in
the United States. In addition, things at home may have changed
too. The result is that returning students have to readjust
to their own culture and society.
“You’ve Been Away Twice as Long as You’ve
A good way to think about “reverse culture shock…MORE