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Adjusting to a New Culture

Nearly everyone goes through an adjustment process when starting a new school, a new job or moving to a new city. Adjusting to a new culture and country is like other transitions, but often a little more involved because of the culture and language differences. The process of adapting to life in a new culture is commonly referred to as cultural adjustment or "culture shock." It is important to understand that this process is quite real, very normal, and an important part of the study abroad experience.

Being able to adjust to your new environment and culture is perhaps one of the most crucial facets of your experience abroad - a major component of the learning and development you will experience in your new country, and part of what will make your time abroad so interesting and rewarding.

Remember, it is totally normal to experience some challenges and frustrations - the key is to recognize the challenges and make efforts to work through them. There are multiple stages of culture adjustment, consisting of highs and lows, and not everyone goes through each of them at the same time or with the same intensity. How an individual passes through the stages of cultural adjustment varies depending on one's personal characteristics and background, the host country, and the program structure. Some study abroad students may experience few changes while others may notice major transitions. By being aware of this cultural adjustment and being able to identify the stages and ways to cope, you will hopefully find it easier to manage and learn from the challenges each stage presents.