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Signals, Phases, & Intercultural Transition.  More commonly referred to as “culture shock”, culture shift is the physical and emotional discomfort experienced.

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Presentation on theme: "Signals, Phases, & Intercultural Transition.  More commonly referred to as “culture shock”, culture shift is the physical and emotional discomfort experienced."— Presentation transcript:

1 Signals, Phases, & Intercultural Transition

2  More commonly referred to as “culture shock”, culture shift is the physical and emotional discomfort experienced when integrating into a culture with different values, perceptions, cultural norms and beliefs, which questions a person’s understanding of what he or she thought to be “right.”

3  Homesickness  Boredom  Withdrawal  Need for excessive amount of sleep  Compulsive eating or drinking  Stereotyping local people  Reduced ability to work effectively  Physical ailments

4  Culture shift is a normal, inevitable response among exchange students.  Students will experience culture shift to varying degrees and for varying lengths of time, but all will experience it at some time. If you are aware of what the student is facing, the signals can be better recognized and understood.

5  Your student will go through various stages of adjustment throughout the year.  An awareness of these stages will help you to understand why the student behaves in certain ways during the year, and should enable you to respond in a supportive manner.


7  Phase One - The Honeymoon Stage: At first everything is interesting and exciting. Your student is the center of attention. To the student, similarities stand out more than anything else.  Phase Two - Tough Times: This is the stage in which Culture Shift happens. The student’s focus shifts to differences rather than similarities and some of the signals previously described occur.

8  Phase Three – A Little Understanding: The student begins to feel more comfortable in the new environment. What was once questioning and unknown has become acceptable and familiar.  Phase Four – Adaptation: The student has learned to function in the new culture with confidence and has developed a sense of belonging. The student may enjoy and appreciate things he or she was highly critical of during Phase Two.

9  If your student is experiencing culture shift you can be supportive by discussing adjustment and working together to ease the transition.  There are a number of strategies to counter culture shift; with your support your student can overcome the challenges of the adjustment process.

10  Have Realistic Expectations: Accept that culture shift is part of the exchange experience and a difficult challenge. Give yourself some time to adjust!  Be Open-minded: Avoid judging things as right or wrong; regard them as merely different.  Appreciate Differences: Recognize the advantages of learning to live in a different culture.  Be Curious: Observe how people in your new environment act in situations that are confusing to you.  Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself: Don’t constantly focus on the difficulties. Regain energy by doing something you enjoy. But don’t just keep taking constant time-outs!  Remember Your Strength: Remember how you have reduced stress in the past and consider doing this in your present circumstance.  It’s Okay to Make Mistakes: Everyone fails at something when trying to adjust to living in a different country. Mistakes are one of the best opportunities to learn!  Keep Your Sense of Humor: Try to see the humor in confusing situations that you encounter; laughter is often the best “medicine”.  Give Yourself Credit: Acknowledge your progress in adjusting to the new culture and recognize that others have done this. With the right attitude you can and will be successful.

11  Some active steps for students to overcome culture shock are: ◦ Reach Out: Encourage them to ask for help. We all need assistance at times. ◦ Get involved: Although they may feel like being alone, encourage them to spend time with people. This way they will improve their language skills and make new friends. ◦ Be an Ambassador for Your Country: Encourage them to share information about their country with the host family, host community and school community.  If your student does not seem to be able to overcome culture shift, please inform your Coordinator for support.

12  Many students deal with their feelings of homesickness and culture shift by seeking out close communication with family and friends from their home country.  Since contact with home is as easy as a mouse- click away, it is especially tempting for students to reach out to home on a daily basis.

13  Too much communication with home may contribute to feelings of homesickness and many students are not aware of this fact.  We CANNOT prohibit or restrict contact with natural parents, but if your student withdraws from contact with you and other people in the community as a result of frequent contact with friends and family in their home country, a one- on-one conversation will be necessary to address the issue.

14  Try to get the student to talk about culture shock and homesickness. Sometimes listening can be helpful to the student.  Remind him/her that other exchange students share similar feelings of homesickness.  Point out that talking with home on a daily basis is like never really leaving home. By physically being in the U.S. and mentally still being at home the student lessens his/her chance for a successful year on program.

15  Assure the student that he/she is allowed to feel homesick but that he/she should also have a good time in the U.S. Having fun away from home is not being disloyal to friends and family at home!  Allow the student to stay in contact with home but encourage him/her to limit the time spent on this.  Encourage the student to make friends through shared activities such as sports or community service. Help the student to find opportunities to get involved in the school and the host community.

16  It is not always the student who is initiating the contact with home.  The natural parents might have an difficult time with their child being so far away. They might not realize the challenges of adjustment. If needed, our overseas partner can talk with the natural parents about the effects of their behavior.  In this case or if you need support addressing the issue with your student, please contact your Coordinator.

17  In some cases students are not able to cope with the challenges of living and studying in a culture different from their own.  Every year a very small percentage of students voluntarily withdraw SPP and return home early due to homesickness or unforeseen circumstances.

18  If your student wants to return home, please inform your Coordinator, so this can be communicated to the natural parents by the SPP hosting staff.  Also, have a conversation with the student to get a clear understanding if the desire to return home is based solely on severe homesickness or if other factors are involved that could be changed.

19  Sometimes a supportive environment can give a student the motivation to stick it out and eventually make it through the tough times.  In other cases there is no remedy and it’s best to let the student return home.  Here are the steps to follow when a student ends his/her program. ◦ Ask him or her for as written statement outlining his/her reasons for wanting to leave. ◦ Forward this documentation to your Coordinator. ◦ As soon as SPP has obtained the approval from the overseas partner, arrangements for the return flight can be made.

20  In many early return cases, host families are disappointed and feel inadequate. Many feel this is a personal failure.  Please be assured that the student’s decision is most likely not based on anything your family did or did not do. Some students are not ready to deal with being away from home for such a long time.

21  It is not uncommon for students to request a new host family in the beginning. Many times this is caused by miscommunication caused by personality/cultural differences.  Just like with student’s that return early, we encourage host families to avoid taking these situations personally. Your coordinator will continue to work with you to find you a new student that might be a better fit!

22  This completes the Culture Shift module.  The next module will cover insurance information.

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