Culture shock experienced by international students learning in the United States of America

Culture shock experienced by international students learning in the United States of America

Education is key in unlocking human potential. Investing in education is a critical aspect to prepare highly educated and well-trained human resources for innovation-driven global competitiveness. In school, when the curriculum fails to provide sufficient skills and competence for learners, human resources will not be likely to move up to a higher development level. International students are docking in the United States to acquire quality education in various higher learning institutions in the United States. However, they are faced with some challenges key among them being a culture shock. Culture shock can be defined as an impact arising from moving from a native or familiar culture to a foreign and unfamiliar one. This shock is as a result of changing environments into a new one, the shock of meeting completely new people and their new way of life in a new country.

 Culture shock affects international students in a number which, most of which directly impact their performance in school. Students from conservative countries, such as Muslim countries may have a hard time adapting to or getting used to the social set up of American society once they come to America to study. This may, in turn, affect their performance in class. For example, a student from a conservative Muslim country will not feel comfortable in a class with his fellow students when a fellow student publicly kisses the other in class. It will create an uncomfortable environment devoid of concentration to study. These impacts can arise as a result of the social behavior of the student or those around him or her. The other notable effect is the disparities in language use. Students from non-English speaking countries have a hard problem understanding lessons in class considering the United States is an English speaking country. Language is the most viable channel of communication. Listening and speaking in a new language is tiring. Lectures are conducted in English and some international students have problems understanding what is being taught in class. Learning is unsuccessful if the learner cannot comprehend what they were taught in class (Orta, David, Edward Murguia, and Cristina Cruz, 53). Language problem also has an impact on the student’s interaction with other students. It may end up with the student being ridiculed by other students for his accent or just outright bigotry and discrimination. Despite sharing the same body completion, language, diet, culture, and environment are distinct between Saudi Arabia and the United States. The primary focus of this paper is to explore culture shock that Saudi Arabia students are facing while pursuing their career in the United States. Several studies have established that there is a drastic decline in performance among international students. However, there is no consensus to explain dismal performance.

Culture shock can be so severe that it may require interventions put into addressing it. In many cases, students exposed to culture shock do undergo stress and depression. Stress and depression lower the students’ concentration thus affecting performance. This can be helped by therapy and counseling sessions to help the student understand the environment in which they are in as well as ways to adapt to it (Al-Anbary pp. 290). Counseling will effectively reduce the impacts of culture shock by a more significant proportion. In some cases, international students have been admitted to diagnose the changing moods of students. Counseling has been identified as one of the major approaches to reduce culture shock among international students.


In order to cope with culture shock, international students are always encouraged to learn as much as possible about host country that they are visiting, understanding their way of live and cultural integration (Akhtar, Mubeen pp. 21). International students should also ask their study board coordinators on advice over host countries, what things they may require to know and what they expect once they relocate. Talking to other students about your experiences is also another thing international students can undertake to cope with culture shock. Expressing sharing experiences with other students would create an atmosphere of understanding and good relationship. Appreciating different cultural values and behaviors is a step towards managing culture shock. It is also vital to appreciate various dress code, dishes and even entertainment behavior of various communities. Remaining rigid to a specific culture would contribute to a significant culture shock among international students.

The policymakers should ensure that higher learning institutions in the United States are friendly and accommodative to various cultures and religions. Fundamentally, this will enhance international students to adapt gradually to new cultures within their new temporary land. The other aspect policymakers should take into account is coming up with programs which will promote various integration between foreign and native students and sessions in which these students share their experiences and their backgrounds.

In conclusion, the various cultures in which we come from should be a unifying factor and learning opportunity amongst ourselves.We should, therefore, appreciate each one of us and the cultures we practice, even if there may be some things that our cultures do differently.


Works cited

Akhtar, Mubeen, et al. “Development of a Scale to Measure Reverse Culture Shock in Fresh Foreign Degree Holders.” Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research 33.1 (2018).

Al-Anbary, Laith A., Ahmed A. Khaleel, and Jabbar S. Hassan. “8. PRE AND POST EXTRACORPOREAL SHOCK WAVE LITHOTRIPSY (ESWL) URINE CULTURE AS A GUIDE FOR ANTIBIOTICS MANAGEMENT.” Iraqi Journal of Medical Sciences 16.3 (2018): 289-297.

Orta, David, Edward Murguia, and Cristina Cruz. “From struggle to success via Latina sororities: Culture shock, marginalization, embracing ethnicity, and educational persistence through academic capital.” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 18.1 (2019): 41-58.