The Analysis Of Research About International Students And Culture Shock

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With the rise of internationalization and globalization in the education sector, there has been a great deal of research done on international students and the process of culture shock (Seeber et al. 2016; Presbitero, 2016). Research has shown that international students struggle with culture shock as they move to and live in a new country (Hendrickson, Rosen, & Aune, 2011; Hotta & Ting-Toomey, 2013). Several studies have shown that culture shock can prolong a students’ adaptation to their new cultural environment, depending on the emotional, psychological and physical stresses associated with culture shock (Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2001). Evidently, many researchers have studied the experiences of a sojourner student’s entry into a new culture. The richness of the data concerning culture shock is in contrast to the lack of recent research focused on the sojourner’s re-entry into the home culture. It is often assumed that when one returns to their home country, it is a smooth reentry. However, some research has suggested that reverse culture shock may be even more emotionally distressing than culture shock (Martin, 1984).  In light of the aforementioned gaps in the literature, the present work was aimed at further studying the experience of reverse culture shock on international students. Additionally, the research can further scientific understanding of the re-entry process by exploring the possible relationship among the re-adaptation to home culture and the presence of anxiety that may follow it.

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Before one can examine the concept of reverse culture shock, culture shock, it’s parent construct must be discussed first. The construct of culture shock is a relatively old one that has been widely studied and richly discussed in literature for many years. The emergence of the concept of culture shock began in the 1950s, during a time of increased travelling and a growing rate of intercultural exchange (Loya, ). In a majority of the literature on culture shock, Kalvero Oberg has been the scholar who created the term “culture shock”. In his journal titled Culture Shock in 1954, he used the term to refer to a difficult experience when interacting with a different culture (Oberg, 1954). He defined culture shock as caused by the anxiety that results from losing all our familiar signs and symbols of social intercourse (Oberg,1954). The amount of research done on this concept has grown since this definition, however this definition marked a starting point for the rest of the theoretical framework on culture shock.

P. Adler (1975) expanded the definition of culture shock in a more psychologically descriptive way. He suggested that culture shock is “primarily a set of emotional reactions to the loss of perceptual cues from one’s own culture, to new cultural stimuli they cannot relate to, and to the misunderstanding of new and different experiences” (Adler, 1975 pg. ). He believed that this leads one to feelings of helplessness, irritability and fear (Adler, 1975). Similarly, Locke and Feinsode 1982) described culture shock as any notable change in affect, thinking, or behavior, which can be caused by exposure to an unfamiliar environment and separation from a familiar one. They suggest that this change is derived from being unable to interpret cultural cues, and a sense of an unfamiliarity with culturally normative behavior. There is a frustration that comes from the inability to create enduring and substantive interaction with the host culture due to inadequate language and social skills (Locke & Feinsode, 1982). N. Adler (1981) also discusses this tiring nature of culture shock, where she suggests the frustration and confusion that results from being bombarded by unpredictable cues.

Lysgaard (1955) conducted a study on 200 Norwegian scholars to examine their adjustment patterns in a host culture. He observed that there was a U-curve patterns that described the initial culture shock over a period of time. Initially, the sojourners experience euphoria, followed by depression, and then resolution. The pattern of culture shock was graphically represented as a U-shaped adjustment curve (Lysgaard, 1955).  

07 July 2022

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