11: Cultural Differences

Culture Shock

Culture shock refers to a person’s reactions and feelings to living in a new and unfamiliar environment. Some of the things that you are used to in your own culture may be very different in the United States: language, food, expressions, values, behaviors, and customs and traditions. You might experience feelings such as anxiety, confusion, frustration, doubt, isolation, and depression. Physical signs may also appear through sleeping a lot or feeling exhausted easily.

Whether you have travelled to Hawai`i or the U.S. before or if this is your first time, it is common and normal for international students to experience culture shock. Some students hardly notice it, while others find it difficult to adapt to their new situation. It is normal to feel excited and interested when you first arrive, then confused or even hostile as you encounter things you don’t understand or agree with. You will probably miss your home country, your family, and your friends. Don’t be ashamed: everyone will be going through it and you are not alone! As time passes, you will come to better understand the culture and customs of Hawai’i and the United States and feel comfortable in your new home.