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Culture Shock


You are about to embark on totally NEW experience. “New” means "recently discovered, recognized, or learned about; different from the former; being in a position or place for the first time." You probably expect that things will not be the same in the United States as they are in your home country; but are you prepared to deal with those differences?

New Challenges

New challenges always accompany new experiences. You may occasionally feel confused, unsure and uncomfortable in the United States. People may have different values and new ways of doing things that seem strange to you. You may feel that everything has changed, including your immediate support system of family and friends.

All of these things may contribute to “culture shock.” To minimize the shock, you will probably want to keep in touch with family and friends back home—but it is important to also identify new sources of support. People that you meet through your school’s international student office may also be a likely source of support. You could also contact relatives or friends who live in the United States to ask for their advice.

Maintain Habits

You may also want to maintain a few habits here in the States. Perhaps you could continue to practice your own faith on a regular basis, with a group of like-minded individuals. Or maybe you enjoy jogging, playing chess, or cheering for your favorite sports team. While the activity will most likely be somewhat "Americanized," it may offer comfort to do some of the things that you enjoy in your back in your home country.

Support Systems

During the transition from your home country to the U.S., new support will most likely come from the admissions office or international student office at the U.S. campus you choose to attend. Most offices coordinate orientation sessions for new students within the first few days of your arrival, to help you get acquainted with your new surroundings.

Other forms of support will come from new friends, an academic advisor or psychological counseling centers. In the U.S., many schools have therapists who have been trained to work with people just like you to discuss the types of new challenges you face.

Most importantly, be prepared to open yourself to new experiences; be prepared to learn, not only in the classroom, but in your interactions with new people everyday.

This short video presentation from an international student at Columbia University in the USA is a fantastic viewpoint on "Culture Shock" and the phases you go through as an international student.

Part 1 - Culture Shock Presentation

Part 2 - Culture Shock Presentation

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