Stages of Cultural Adjustment

Stage 1: Initial Euphoria "Honeymoon Stage"

Orientation, registration, parties, getting acquainted … everything feels new and exciting. Curiosity and excitement abound.

You have been hearing about the U.S. and perhaps have seen American movies and TV programs. Now you are in the country
and are prepared to experience it yourself!

Stage 2: Culture Shock

Feelings of confusion and disorientation take place when you are confronted with many and varied
 situations and people.

New smells, sounds, and Americans’
unfamiliar behavior can contribute to your feelings. Although culture shock is more a result of being in a new situation than your own personal traits, it is helpful to remember that your
own qualities of patience, ability to deal with ambiguity and sense of humor can help influence the depth or length of culture shock.

Stage 3: Irritability & Hostility

During this phase, you may 
find yourself sharing stories with your friends about Americans’ negative qualities. Disappointment, depression,
 and anger can occur. You may experience hostility towards 
Americans, the College, and the U.S.

Stage 4: Gradual Adjustment

This is the recovery stage when 
you begin to understand classroom expectations and correctly interpret some of the cultural cues that have been so puzzling.

Gradually, things seem less forbidding and more comfortable. Your senses of humor and adventure are returning!

Stage 5: Accomplishment & Acceptance

You are at ease with the College and your peers, and you can communicate with others effectively. You find that you enjoy a great deal about the experience you are living.


Althen, Gary. (2003). American ways: A guide for foreigners in the United States. Second edition. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, Inc., pp. 265-267