Educational and Cultural Interactions, Inc.
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Culture shock is a normal reaction to living in a foreign culture.  Remember a time when you traveled overseas, or moved within the U.S.? Some of the same frustrating feelings----not knowing where stores and services are, how to get things done---may have occurred to you. Anxiety and irritation are almost always a part of traveling or moving. 

Culture shock symptoms sometimes occur suddenly. Bleak weather and being closed in (as occurs in January and February) or a special event such as holidays, or birthdays may be sufficient to cause depression. Someone experiencing culture shock may experience both physiological and psychological symptoms.  

Physiological Symptoms

Psychological Symptoms

Sleepiness or insomnia

Homesickness or idealized feelings about home

Compulsive eating

Sense of helplessness, over dependence

Recurring Minor illnesses

Irritability, perhaps hostility

Stomach upsets

Social withdrawal


Rebellion against rules


Loneliness or boredom 

Any of these symptoms alone may not mean that your Student is finding their adjustment difficult. It is important to look at the student's total behavior to determine if help is needed to cope with culture shock. When you notice symptoms of culture shock talk about adjustment and see if together you can identify the problem. If an objective outside ear is needed, the Activities Coordinator is trained in working with foreigners and can talk with your Student.

Setting specific goals and activities can help students to overcome depression or feelings of isolation. An Activities Coordinator once said, "When I do orientations, I point out to the Students that itís normal to get bored, but itís their own fault if they stay bored." Students should be encouraged to eat balanced diets, do some physical activity each day, and spend some quiet time by themselves. Both you and your Student should recognize that it takes time to work out of a depression----itís not going to happen overnight. Remember to be patient and do what you can to make your Student feel like a member of the family.


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