Culture shock occurs when a student is suddenly exposed to a culture very different from the culture in which the student was raised. Culture shock can cause the student to feel surprised, confused, and anxious. First-generation college students are at risk of feeling college shock and may experience additional stress when they try to speak with family members who do not understand why the transition to college is so difficult. Culture shock can also be experienced by international students who feel isolated by differences in language, religion, peer relationships, and food.
Life in the Upper Peninsula may also create culture-shock adjustment problems for students from other regions of the country as well. While there are some unusual traditions, customs, and food in the UP, Yoopers are generally friendly and welcoming people. Living in the UP can provide the opportunity to meet some really wonderful people and experience some unique activities that cannot be found in other regions of the country.
Students experiencing culture shock may try to isolate themselves by staying in their residence hall rooms and claiming to be too busy to attend campus or hall social events or may only associate with people from their regions of the country or the world. They may sit alone at meal times, in the library, and in class; spend too much time dwelling on what they are missing “back home”; and fill their free time with activities that keep them connected to that world, e.g., Facebook, chatting online, watching movies, staying up late to talk to family and friends when they are awake. These students may exhibit signs of depression: withdrawing, crying, overeating/oversleeping or not eating/sleeping enough, or missing class and may express a desire to drop out of school or to move because they “just don’t fit in.”
If you become aware of a student with a culture-shock adjustment problem:
Encourage the student to
- recognize that homesickness and culture shock are normal.
- build strong peer relationships to support both academic and social goals—try to connect with other students who have had similar experiences.
- develop a mentor relationship with a faculty or staff member.
- join a student organization.
- participate in campus and community events.
- keep a journal.
- get help from campus services, including Counseling Services, the International Programs and Services Office, or the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.
- research points of interests or activities unique to the Upper Peninsula.
Discourage the student from
- giving up on his/her education.
- staying isolated.
- dwelling on the negative.
- giving up his/her personal identity.
- Cushman, K. (2007). Facing the culture shock of college. Educational Leadership, 64 (7), p. 44-47.