Cultural Adjustment

Most people who travel to foreign countries experience some form of culture shock. Culture shock is usually described as an intense physical and psychological response to a new environment. In some cases, the traveler cannot pinpoint all of the things in the new environment that are bothering him or her; the person simply feels that something is not right. In other cases, the traveler knows what has triggered culture shock; anything from the tiny differences in how people handle everyday tasks, feelings of incompetence when dealing with unfamiliar situations, frustration with an unfamiliar bureaucracy, or the feeling that the traveler cannot "connect" emotionally with people from the new culture.

Dashew Center has an in-house case manager to assist you: Hillary Thomas. 

Contact her by filling out this form

Hillary serves the UCLA community by helping international students in distress connect with campus resources and needed support in order to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. She supports the campus by consulting about how to respond to and refer students in crisis.


You can also contact...

UCLA Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
John Wooden Center West
221 Westwood Plaza
24/7 line: (310) 825-0768

Make an Appointment or Urgent Counseling is also available 24-hours a day by phone. Many of the trained counselors at CAPS are familiar with the challenges that an international student can face when adapting to a new culture. There is no shame in asking to speak with someone - you’ll only feel better after you talk about how you’re feeling and adjusting!
*Appointments are FREE for students with SHIP insurance and only $15 for students without SHIP.


Loss or Gain of Weight or Appetite
Withdrawal from Social Activities
Anger over minor frustrations
A desire to return home


Some people will get over their culture shock in a few weeks; others will take longer to adjust. You may experience culture shock immediately after arriving in the United States, or you may struggle with culture shock later, when many small frustrations have built up. We suggest that the best way to deal with culture shock is:

Participate in activities on campus, such as those offered by the Dashew Center! Stay busy!
Socialize with other international students who can understand what you're going through.
Keep an open mind and to be patient both with Americans and with oneself.
Not to withdraw from others and be alone (spending time with other people can help).