Cultural Adjustment Stages – For Young International Students
During the first few weeks of your stay in America, you will probably find everything to be very new and exciting. However, after a month, you may begin to feel bored or homesick. This is a perfectly normal and natural part of “cultural adjustment.” Cultural Adjustment does not come and go in a matter of days, but is an ongoing process with ups and downs. There are four (4) stages of Cultural Adjustment, referenced from the following website: http://www.studyabroad.illinois.edu/resources/during/stages_adjustment.aspx
Stage 1: Honeymoon
When you first arrive you may feel a little scared, but soon you will be excited and fascinated by all of the new things around you. You will want to please your new host family, your new teachers and your new friends. You will be very active and involved at home, at school and with friends. If you do not understand something, you may smile and nod, instead of saying you do not understand.
Stage 2: Hostility
If a misunderstanding occurs between you and your host family, you may begin to feel frustrated. You may feel angry or uncomfortable because these small things begin to bother you a lot more than they did in the beginning. You may get angry if people do not understand you, and you may stop trying to speak English because you feel discouraged. Sleeping patterns may change; you may sleep a lot or not enough. You may decide you don’t like the food anymore, or eat too much or too little because you don’t feel comfortable. Your grades may begin to suffer because you feel like giving up.
In this stage, you may blame your host family, your school, or America in general. You may feel very angry, very afraid, or very sad. You are not interested in being friendly anymore. You do not want to go to school, and you want to spend all of your time in your room alone because of these strong feelings.
This is the most difficult stage, but it will pass. It is normal to feel these things, but try to stay positive. Remember that soon it will be over and you will be in Stage 3.
Stage 3: Humor
After feeling very strong emotions and discomfort, you will begin to relax. You will begin to laugh at the things that made you angry, afraid or sad. You will know they are only small mistakes, and you will learn from those mistakes. You will begin to come out of your room, to talk to your host family and spend time with your friends again. School becomes easier when you relax, so you are more excited to go again. You are much happier and more comfortable with your life in America.
Stage 4: Home
Now you will really feel “at home” in America. It has been tough, but now you understand the different rules, language and expectations of your new home here. You will now know how to talk to Americans, how to succeed in school in America, and how to comfortably live with Americans. You can live here easily, as well as in your home country. You will understand how lucky you are to have two countries that you can live in and feel comfortable—this is a great gift in life. It wasn’t easy but you were successful. Congratulations!