Adjusting to a new culture is not easy. You may experience some difficult times, but we are here to help you. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any questions.

What is Culture Shock?

  Watch the video to learn more about Culture Shock.

Differences in Cultural Background

Culture shock is a normal and healthy reaction to being in a new environment. You may experience this as soon as you arrive, or shortly after you arrive.

Some of the differences in cultural background are visible, such as foods, clothes, language, celebrations, arts, and behaviors.

For example, you may find some foods that you are not familiar with. Or, you may not hug people as a greeting in your home country.

Others can be invisible, such as values, rules, customs, traditions, and more.

For example, people in the U.S. usually do not ask others about their relationship status or age when they first meet because it can be considered as rude. In other culture, it might be completely okay.

Please see “Possible Differences Between the U.S. and Your Home Country” for more examples.

Why Should I Care for Culture Shock?

It might be exciting and interesting to see and experience all the differences at first. However, you may start feeling tired and homesick after a while.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Homesickness
  • Anxiety 
  • Crying a lot
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Difficulty studying
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Withdrawal
  • Fatigue
  • Stereotyping
  • Boredom
  • Self-doubt
  • Avoiding unfamiliarity

Please know that it is completely normal to experience these as you adjust to the new culture.

Ways You Can Minimize Culture Shock

  • Make friends and surround yourself with supportive people.
  • Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, eat well, and exercise.
  • Take a break every day; read a book or listen to your favorite songs in your native language.
  • Be positive. Keep a list of your enjoyable experiences so your outlook remains positive.

The Senior Coordinator for Care and Conduct can help you adjust to life at INTO OSU. 

Other campus resources that can help you:


Possible Differences Between the US and Your Home Country

  • When meeting for the first time, people sometimes shake hands.
  • It is considered rude to interrupt someone who is talking.
  • Smoking is not allowed inside buildings or on the OSU campus.
  • Men and women deserve and receive equal levels of respect, in and out of school.
  • Americans do not usually bargain over prices.
  • Cell phones are not allowed in class.
  • It is normal for two people in a romantic relationship to show affection in public, like holding hands and/or kissing.
  • People here sometimes speak loudly in conversations.
  • People usually stand at least an arm's length away from each other and do not touch other than a handshake.
  • It is considered very offensive to say negative things about people based on their country, skin color, sexual orientation, or religion.
  • It may be fine in your home country to hug or kiss children you meet in public, but this can upset American parents.
  • In America, if someone offers you something you want, say "yes" the first time. If you are trying to be polite by refusing the offer, Americans will not understand this and will not ask you again.
  • Americans generally have no religious or cultural food restrictions. If they offer you food that you can't eat, politely tell them this. They will understand and not be offended.