When students first arrive in the U.S, they start the process of adjustment to the new country and culture. That process of the cultural adjustment has four phases:
Honeymoon: students are excited about all the new things and everything is different and interesting.
Frustration: students’ excitement starts to fade away as they have been living in the host country for months now. That is the phase when students begin to see the differences between their home country and host country. Those differences may seem strange and so far from their reality that they start to miss their home country.
Adjustment: students start to adapt to the new home. In this stage students understand the culture more and are more comfortable with their language skills.
Acceptance: students are starting to accept the differences. They might not be totally comfortable with the new country and culture, but they have learned to accept that things are different. In this phase they understand that their home country is not better or worse, their culture is not right or wrong compare to the host country, but they are just different.
Note that students staying for a short period of time are less likely to go through the process of frustration due to the lack of time abroad. Others, staying for a long period of time might suffer from frustration. There are no guarantees that all students will go through the four phases in the order listed above. Each individual will experience the phases of cultural adjustment differently.
You should stay on the lookout for some of the symptoms that your student might be suffering from culture shock/ homesickness.
1. Your student isolates themselves and rarely interacts with other people around him
2. Your student appears easily distressed or overly anxious
3. Your student appears overly sentimental or nostalgic about aspects of his home culture
4. Your student seems depressed and is generally resistant to change
5. Your student refuses to eat, claiming not to be hungry
6. Your student appears to be crying for any reason
7. Your student is feeling sick all the time, feeling stomach pain or headaches
8. Your student is feeling angry over minor things
9. Your student is feeling bored
10. Your student is sleeping excessively
If you think that your student may be having any of the symptoms above, the best thing that you can do is be understanding. Your compassion will help make your student feel safe and welcome. You should also try to keep your student’s mind preoccupied with activities. Encourage him or her to join after school activities. Find ways to keep your student busy, and you will most likely see them grow more comfortable living with you.
Do you have questions? Let us know in the comments bellow.