Study Abroad

Culture Shock

"Culture shock" is a term that psychologists use to describe the disorientation people experience when they move for an extended period of time to a culture different from their own.  Some of the symptoms of relatively severe cases of culture shock include

  • homesickness
  • boredom
  • withdrawal (e.g., spending excessive time alone or with only Americans)
  • excessive sleeping or eating
  • irritability
  • stereotyping of or hostility toward host nationals
  • physical or psychosomatic ailments.

Although not everyone will suffer from such dramatic symptoms, students going abroad will all likely experience some degree of culture shock.  In fact, recent studies have shown that virtually everyone who lives abroad goes through a distinct set of phases as they adjust to their new culture.