Cultural Adjustment

Adjusting to your host culture is a process that may include ups and downs. How you deal with the challenges will be an important part of your adjustment.

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You're probably feeling pretty good about being on step closer to going abroad.

Tip: Channel that energy into learning more about your host country!
Cultural Fatigue
Upon arriving in your host country, you may feel uncomfortable because of obvious and subtle differences. You may also feel physically tired from trying to adjust to the new culture, adapt to a new schedule, and learn a new language.

Tip: Remember that low periods are to be expected of someone living in a new country and culture. It doesn't mean you're failing. Plus, assess the time you spend communicating with U.S. friends and family. Too much contact may be affecting your mood.
Surface Adjustment
You may begin to feel more at ease with school, language, customs, and friends and start to feel a sense of belonging as you adjust to the more visible aspects of your host culture.

Tip: Make plans to do something fun with your host family or friends.
Mental Isolation
Boredom, frustration, and a sense of isolation may begin to set in as deeper differences between your home country and your host country become apparent.

Tip: Talk to your liaison. Talking it out may help you feel better. And get some physical exercise. This will help release stress.
Slowly, you may absorb the deeper currents of the two cultures, accepting and valuing both your home and host culture.

Tip: Try to see things through another perspective. Empathy is an important part of adjusting to another culture. Try to understand the challenges your host family may be going through while adjusting to having someone new in their home.
As departure nears, you might experience sadness and apprehension. You may notice how close you’ve grown to your host family and friends and possibly even feel guilty about wanting to stay rather than return home.

Tip: Laugh! Having a sense of humor is essential to dealing with cultural adjustment, and smiling can actually help boost your mood.
Once home, the contrast of old and new comes as a shock. No longer the center of attention, the returnee often finds no one is as interested in the details of the year as he or she. Final resolution involves a shift in perspective and begins an understanding of the validity of both cultures.

Tip: Staying busy and active when you get home can help your adjustment go more smoothly. Things like picking up old hobbies or pursuing new ones that you picked up abroad.

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