Cultural Adjustment

Culture shock is normal, and is something you may experience during your time here at UCSB. You will to some extent see yourself living this "roller coaster" no matter how well prepared you think you are and no matter how long your stay.

Phase 1: Euphoria – You are excited about the newness of your environment and initial discoveries of your host country.
Phase 2: Culture Shock – You begin to realize all of the cultural differences between home and your host country and you may not be happy with these differences. This is a common homesickness period.
Phase 3: Surface Adjustment – You begin to accept your culture shock and start getting into an every day routine. You have made friends, are learning how to go to school under a different system, and your language skills are rapidly improving. 
Phase 4: Unresolved Problems – Your surface adjustment, however, is unfortunately just that – on the surface. Once you have settled down into your daily routine, you will begin to feel the tension of unresolved problems that may or may not relate to cultural differences. You may begin to have issues with individual people or may continue to have concerns with specific aspects of your host country. 
Phase 5: Feel at Home – Once you have completely adjusted – not just on the surface but also emotionally, socially, academically, and physically, you will finally begin to feel at home. You will find yourself as a part of the community of your host country, will be missing things from home much less, and will be calling home with daily tales of exciting adventures rather than daily tales of cultural annoyances.
Phase 6: Departure Concerns – Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and once you begin to feel at home in your country, you will soon realize that your time abroad is fleeting. Whether or not you are really enjoying yourself, you may feel concerned about your final departure from your host country. You may be worried about the long journey home, about the reverse culture shock you may experience once you have returned home, and about saying good bye to the people and places you’ve grown to love.

Strategies for a successful experience here at UCSB:

  • Be proactive in getting to know Americans in your classes and in your apartment complex. Introduce yourself first!
  • Take advantage of all your resources at UCSB. Ask for help if necessary - start by asking your Reciprocal Exchange coordinators or other UCSB staff and advisors.
  • Join clubs, sports teams, social groups at UCSB.
  • Get a part-time job, participate in an internship or apply for academic training after your program
  • Be open to trying new things
  • Participate in EAP events - many include returnees!
  • Volunteer to work on group projects
  • Eat meals with other students or co-workers
  • Join a study group with other Americans in your class

Check out the Helpful Links on the left side of this page for more information on events, activities, groups and resources!