Cultural Adjustment for International Students | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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Cultural Adjustment

A new culture can be exciting and a challenge to navigate as an international student. By recognizing stages of culture shock, becoming involved and engaged with local students and community members and keeping your overall wellness in mind, you'll be able to succeed at NWACC. 

Culture Shock Stages

The Honeymoon Stage 

  • Feel excited with new sounds, sights and smells.
  • Superficial involvement in the host culture (acting as a tourist)
  • Intrigued with both similarities and differences between the new culture and your home culture
  • Interested in learning, very motivated and cooperative
  • Feel like you can handle anything

Irritability and Hostility

  • The novelty of the new culture has worn off, and you may focus more on the differences between the new culture and your home culture.
  • Small differences feel like major catastrophes. You may become overly concerned with and stressed out by problems and feel frustrated.
  • Stereotypes and prejudices may surface. You may feel as if the host nationals are cold and unhelpful.
  • You seek home country friends.
  • You feel homesick. You miss your friends and family back home.  

Gradual Adjustment

  • You become more familiar with the new culture and its way of life and values. Cultural cues become easier to read.
  • You feel more comfortable and less isolated, and you begin to prefer some aspects of the new culture to your home culture.
  • You experience periodic personal highs and lows, as adjustment gradually takes place.
  • Your sense of humor returns. You are able to laugh at certain ways of doing things that previously just annoyed you and laugh at yourself from time to time.
  • Since you are past the initial, emotional stages of cultural adjustment, you can now enter a stage of deeper learning. You begin to see a multitude of approaches to your life abroad and question some of your assumptions about the world. 

Adaptation of Biculturalism

  • The new culture is no longer new; instead, the foreign country you live in now feels like another home.
  • The aspects of the culture that are different from your home are no longer affecting you in a negative way. You are able to live and work to your full potential.
  • Just like you do in your home country, you appreciate certain aspects of the foreign culture and are critical of others.

Get Involved

It is important for you to get involved on campus throughout your time at NWACC. Many students will participate in one of the following:

  • Peer Mentoring Program
    You will connect with a domestic NWACC student who can help you navigate American culture, collegiate expectations, and developing cultural self-confidence. Through formal and informal meetings, you'll be introduced to useful resources on campus and in the community, and develop healthy goal-setting expectations.

  • Student Clubs
    You can join other like-minded students and participate in clubs that help grow your personal interests and social understanding. The most popular of these clubs is the Citizens of the World. It has been a strong ally for the integration of new international students on campus.

  • iFriend
    Through NWACC's partnership with local families, you have the opportunity to experience the American culture outside of the classroom and develop long-term healthy relationships with community members.


Keep Your Health in Mind

Your health and well being play an important role in your experience at NWACC. Wellness is an active and lifelong process, involving positive decision making and finding balance between priorities. It helps you make choices that lead to being happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

You may benefit from services offered at the NWACC Wellness Center. 

Wellness Center Contacts: