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Culture Shock/Cross Cultural Communication

What is culture shock? 

Culture shock is the way you react and feel when the cultural cues you know so well from home are lacking. In our daily lives each of us knows how to perform a myriad of activities on any particular day in an amazingly efficient manner. We can shower, get dressed, make it to campus, grab a coffee, go to the library, research and photocopy, print out a paper, go to class, pick up a few groceries and get back home without thinking about any of these tasks. We know when to j-walk without comtemplating. We know how to interpret motives when someone runs into us--was it a dangerous encounter, impolite gesture or simply an accident? When someone yells at us, we know how to analyze the situation and react whether it be out of anger, joy or frustration--all in a matter of seconds.

These activities all require cultural knowledge, and when you go to a new country you must learn to recognize normal behavior, interpret cultural signals, navigate the new rules, and react in an adult manner appropriate to that culture. Inexperience in the culture takes its toll on your psyche, and your reaction will be determined by your knowledge of that culture, your ability to observe people and your willingness to accept this new/different (but not better or worse) way of doing things.

The more subtle the differences, the harder your task. For many students who have spent years learning a foreign language and studying cultural information about a country, it is easy to accept that the "rules are different". Those, on the other hand, who go to a country where English is the native language, may be caught off guard to learn that cultural differences abound, and culture shock may be more severe as a result.

Experts believe that cultural adjustment often occurs in three stages:

Remembering the following facts will help: Culture shock doesn't come from a specific event. It is caused by encountering different ways of doing things, being cut off from cultural cues, having your own cultural values brought into question, feeling that rules are not adequately explained, and being expected to function with maximum skill without adequate knowledge of the rules.

Therefore, strategies for coping include the following: 

Coping with the Adjustment Process

Understand that it is normal for anyone in a new country to experience some challenges adjusting to the new culture.

What personal characteristics may help?

Many students who are academically focussed find that rolling with the punches, being flexible and not being too hard on themselves will take effort on their part.

Tips for Living in a Diverse Community

Advice from Other International Students

Transition (Do’s and Don’ts)

Staying Safe

Tips for Staying Safe

While Travelling in Turkey

A Guide to Social Etiquette in Turkey 

There’s a lot to learn about social etiquette in Turkey but knowing the basics will be enough in most cases.

Dress

Social Situations

Things You Should Beware Of

When visiting a Turkish friend's house…

Remember to take off your shoes when you enter a Turkish home. It is consider disrespectful to enter a Turkish home wearing your shoes. You will be given some house slippers to put on instead.

Turkey closes for lunch..

Mealtimes are very important for Turkish people and lunch is no exception. Banks and businesses will close for up to 1 hour for lunchtime, and it is not common practice to quickly eat a sandwich at your desk; in Turkey they will enjoy a relaxed sit down meal with colleagues.

Turkish people love to hear non-Turkish people speak Turkish

Even if you only speak a few words it will bring much appreciation. So you are more than welcome to practice your Turkish!

 

If you need help with the adjustment process, or if you have questions or concerns, please contact the Counseling Services (KURES). All information shared with counselors is confidential.