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Cultural Adjustment

Fallen Star (2012) by Do Ho Suh

Fallen Star (2012) by Do Ho Suh. Fallen Star is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. No reservations are necessary. Do Ho Suh’s work explores the notions of home, cultural displacement, one’s perception of space and how one builds a memory of it. What is home, after all? A place? An idea? A sentiment? A memory?

Like all institutions in the University of California system, UC San Diego values diversity and champions an environment that encourages academic success. Visit our Campus Climate website for updates on these ongoing efforts.

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Culture Shock

Culture Shock is a term used to describe the anxiety that’s experienced by almost everyone who relocates to another culture for an extended period of time. Learning to cope with confusion with the language, frustration with different ways of doing things, isolation from your friends and family, and homesickness are a part of adapting to a new culture.

Please realize that you are not alone! Many international scholars coming to UC San Diego are feeling the same ups and downs that you are feeling. The best way to overcome the "down" times and to meet new friends is to get involved in activities that you normally would do in your own country.

Join a tennis class, sing in a chorus, give presentations about your country to community groups, or do whatever interests you. If you participated in an activity in your home country, try the same activity here, or do something completely different! A good place to start is to come to the International Faculty & Scholars Office and join the many activities that we have designed for international visitors and their families.



Adapting to a New Culture

Phases in adapting to a new culture

  • Excitement upon arrival, everything is new and wonderful.
  • Homesickness, frustration, fear and depression may occur.
  • Beginning to adjust, make friends, and participate in activities.
  • Difficulty returning to home country, reverse culture shock.

Cultural Hints

Obviously, all Americans are not the same, but here are a few common American characteristics that you might find helpful to be aware of.

  • Americans often will say, “How are you?” “What’s up?” “How’s it going?” as a means to simply say “Hello”, and “I’ll call you” “See you” or “Later” as a means to simply say, “Good-bye.” These statements are typically not taken literally.
  • Americans are also very informal, and address each other by their first names from the time they meet, even with elders and people of authority.
  • Breakfast and lunch are usually light meals and the main meal of the day is dinner (in the evening) usually eaten around 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm.
  • Dress is generally informal on campus. There is no one particular style adopted; however, it is important to keep in mind what is appropriate on campus and what is not.
  • As a rule, gifts are given to relatives and close friends. They are sometimes given to people with whom one has a casual but friendly relationship, such as a host or hostess, but it is not necessary or even common for gifts to be given to such people.
  • In a question of honesty versus politeness, honesty wins. For example, if you are invited to an event and cannot/do not want to go, it is much better to refuse graciously and courteously than to accept an invitation and not go.
  • In the U.S., great value is attached to time. Punctuality is considered an important attribute. You should try to arrive at the exact time specified for dinner, lunch, and especially appointments with professors, doctors, and other professionals.
  • Actions involving sexual intimidation, sexual abuse, sexual assault, engaging in obscene behavior, or other unwelcome, intimidating, hostile, abusive, or offensive conduct of a sexual nature are strictly prohibited by law and are considered very serious matters in the U.S. and in the UC San Diego community.
  • Keep in mind that unspoken signals (body language) by others may not mean what you think. Various gestures are automatic and vary from culture to culture.