Adjusting to life in a foreign culture can be a challenge. You should expect differences, ambiguity, and uncertainty wherever you go.

Culture Shock

All travelers, at some point in their journey, are likely to feel some tension, as they adjust to the new pressures, cultural expectations and situations. This tension, called culture shock, manifests itself in a number of ways, from mild uneasiness or temporary homesickness to strong irritability, hypersensitivity, loneliness, and withdrawal. It is normal to experience culture shock, though many people experience it in different ways.

Culture shock is lessened by doing research on your host country ahead of time, and keeping an open mind while traveling. Be patient and tolerant about cultural practices you see that seem surprising. You will undoubtedly commit some cultural faux pas wherever you are; keeping a good sense of humor helps to keep things in perspective.

Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse culture shock, often overlooked, is the unexpected confrontation with the familiar. Travelers who are returning home have been changed and shaped by a new culture and new experiences, and it may be jarring to find that other things have not done so, in the same way. Symptoms may include emotionality, nostalgia, depression, and apathy. Travelers who have returned from abroad experiences should take care not to appear judgmental or overly critical of their home culture. To cope, talk with others who have gone abroad about feelings and changing concept of self-identity, take time and reflect, and reinvest in the local community.

Culture Training

Learn about the W-Curve of adaptation to foreign culture and methods of coping with culture shock.

What's Up With Culture?
Returning Home

Find out what to expect when returning home after your abroad experience.

Re-entry Resources