Shock and Awephoto © 2010 David Woo | more info (via: Wylio)
Living in the U.S. to study English is exciting, but it can also be difficult. Besides learning a different language, you also have to adjust to a different culture.

Culture includes not only things like food, music, and clothing, but also the ways people relate to each other. A place’s culture determines how you treat someone older or younger than yourself, interactions between man and women, social activities, and much more. If you live somewhere with a culture different from your own, you will probably experience culture shock.

Culture shock is the psychological process most people experience in a new culture. It may feel strange sometimes, but it is very normal. Here are the stages of culture shock that you can expect:

The Honeymoon Phase – A honeymoon is a trip that a newly married couple takes together after their wedding. Like a new bride or groom, you will probably be very excited about your new home at the beginning. Everything that is different from your home is interesting, and life is full of discoveries. If you take a short vacation to a foreign country, you may only experience the honeymoon phase. But if you stay for a longer time, this can change into…

The Transition Phase – After a while, the differences can seem very difficult to manage. It could seem that you cannot manage living in the U.S. You may become angry and frustrated with American people and customs, and it will be tempting to isolate yourself and spend a lot of time alone or only with people from your native country.

The teachers and staff at IEI have helped many students to deal with this part of culture shock. They can give you help or just listen to you if you need to talk about your struggles. Other students can also give you support — many of them have been through the same difficulties. It is very important to talk to other people at this time, even if you don’t always feel like it.

The Adjustment Phase – If you work through the transition phase, life in your new home will become easier. After 6-12 months in a the U.S., most international students become very comfortable. They learn with time what to expect and how to get along well with American people and customs, and their attitude becomes more positive.

The Mastery Phase – Some students stay in the United States for several years to attend university, to work, or to marry and start a family. These individuals eventually feel at home in American culture, as though they have two cultures.

Reverse Culture Shock – When you go back to your home country, you might feel a mild form of reverse culture shock. After spending a long time away, the customs of your country can seem a little strange and foreign. Perhaps you will feel like the culture you visited was better than your own. Like the first time you felt culture shock, this is not unusual, and you will adjust back to your native culture in time.