Stages of Cultural Adjustment


Adjustment to any new situation or culture is not accomplished in just a few days but is rather an ongoing process over time. Following are four stages of cultural adjustment for your consideration:

1. The Honeymoon Stage

This stage is characterized by happiness, anticipation, and excitement. Everything is new. The “dream” to study in the United States is coming true. This is an exciting time and in all the enthusiasm you frequently nod or smile to indicate understanding when in fact you have not understood. As your misunderstandings mount up, you are likely to experience the second stage of cultural adjustment.

2. The Hostility Stage

During this time you have periods of great frustration, anger, anxiety, and sometimes depression. Following the initial excitement has come frustration with the college bureaucracy and the weariness of speaking in and listening to English every day. Sleep patterns may be disrupted. You may suffer from indigestion and be unable to eat. Often your reaction is to reject the new environment in which you feel discomfort. You may think, “If I feel bad it’s because of them.” At this point, you may display “hostility” toward the new culture. There may be anger over minor frustrations, fear and mistrust of Americans, frequent absenteeism, lack of interest, and lack of motivation. Many academic problems begin during this stage. The hostility stage can be a difficult and painful stage. Realizing this can be very beneficial in moving on to the third stage of cultural adjustment.

3. The Humor Stage

This stage follows when you begin to relax in a new situation and to laugh at minor mistakes and misunderstandings, which previously would have caused major headaches. This more relaxed state of being occurs after you have made some friends, learned to manage the size and complexity of the University, understand your studies, and you begin to pass your tests.

4. The Home Stage

You find yourself here as you are able to retain an allegiance to your home culture, but also “feel at home” in your newly acquired culture. You have successfully adjusted to the norms and standards of the University and the U.S., and should be commended for the ability to live successfully in two cultures.

Invitations or Hospitality

Be on time. Call if you cannot make an appointment or invitation.

Customs, Values, Beliefs

It is good to conform to the customs of the country but don’t lose your own personal values and beliefs.

Daylight Savings Time

An adjustment in clocks to allow for more daylight hours during the spring and summer months.

  1. Daylight Savings Time begins at 2:00 AM on the first Sunday in April. All clocks are moved forward one hour. 2:00 AM becomes 3:00 AM
  2. Daylight Savings Time ends at 2:00 AM on the last Sunday in October. All clocks are moved backward one hour. 2:00 AM becomes 1:00 AM

Alcoholic Beverages

You must be 21 years old to purchase OR consume alcoholic beverages (beer, wine or liquor). You cannot purchase alcoholic beverages for another person who is under 21. These laws are very strict and must be followed closely.