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Symptoms of Culture Shock

Everyone experiences the period of adjustment to a new country in his or her own unique ways. However, there are some commonalities and these include the following:

  • Making Comparisons – Initially you will compare everything in the US and at St. Mark’s with life at home. You may define your new environment in unfavorable terms and feel that everything from home is better and even perfect!
  • The Climate – You may find that the climate in Southborough is unfavorable, regardless of the actual specifics. It just isn’t the same as home!
  • Irritability – You may find yourself angry and irritable with people, friends, even your family. Things may just not feel right!
  • Preoccupation with going home – You may find yourself anxious to go home and counting down the days until the next vacation and your next trip home.
  • Not wanting to get out of your room – You may find yourself spending most of your free time in your room instead of with other students in the Center or in the House common rooms. You may not want to go on the school-sponsored trips to the Natick Mall or other local areas.
  • Food – You may find the food in the St. Mark’s dining room not to your liking and will decide it is bad for you.
  • Need to find others like yourself – You may have a desire to find people “like you” to talk to and hang out with.

As you experience culture shock you should also be aware that there are 4 stages that students typically go through:

Honeymoon Stage- This is usually during your first few days or weeks. You experience emotions like excitement, euphoria, anticipation, and eagerness. Everything and everyone is new and exciting and wonderful!

Frustration Stage- As the newness wears off and the routine of life at St. Mark’s begins you may begin to feel frustrated and you may experience a sense of depression. This stage is sometimes accompanied by the following feelings:

  • Sleep difficulty
  • Sadness
  • Homesickness
  • Exhaustion
  • Increased worry
  • A desire to withdraw
  • Unexplained crying
  • Overeating or under eating

If you experience these feelings, it is essential that you speak with your Advisor, another adult or a peer who has gone through culture shock and can give you tips on how to manage this stage. These are all normal feelings that will pass with time, but you should address them to help make yourself feel better!

Adjustment Stage- At a certain point you will find that you are becoming used to life at St. Mark’s and things will become familiar and comfortable. The food, the people and the culture will seem more acceptable and even familiar. You will find friends who can support you and you will have learned the tools to manage your culture shock.

Acceptance Stage- Eventually you will be able to see both the culture of the US and your home culture more objectively. You will be able to compare the good and the bad of both countries and you will begin to feel like you belong in both cultures. This will be a hugely satisfying feeling as you will know that you have successfully managed your new life!

More Information on "Culture Shock"

Managing Culture Shock
Managing Homesickness
Cultural Adjustment Curve