Cultural Shock

Transitioning to a new country or having to learn a new culture is definitely a difficult process. As Janet Bennett explains, the fears that we think about are “excessive concern over cleanliness and health; feeling of helplessness and withdrawal, fear of being cheated, robbed, or being injured, and making friends”. Coming to the states when I was seven years old was probably the hardest process of my life. I had to overcome the circumstance and fight to make new friends, and adjust to the American culture that I wasn’t used to. At first, I couldn’t really make any friends because my English was very poor. I felt alienated and was really not motivated to making any. “Transition shock” often leads to communication problems though, making us feel anxious, lonely, and disoriented”. Bennett explains how we “block out the new forms and styles of communication available to us”, and during that time of my life, that’s exactly what I did, block out everything that was coming towards me. As the years went by, I started to accept the fact that I was no longer living in Korea. The culture transition immediately started right when my mentality altered. Started to pay attention in class more, talk to people, and just had fun playing basketball with the other kids.


Honestly, the only thing that I learned from transitioning to another country is about mentality. According to a study at the University of Alberta, culturally insensitive individual, contrary to a persuasive myth, was revealed as the individual who believed that” people are about the same everywhere”. This statement is so true as every year, the transition to a new culture got better and better. Going to my first American friends house was a big step for me seeing the way people in another country lived for the very first time. The food that the family gave us, the amount of freedom I had in the house, it was like being the king of the house, very similar to the Korean culture. Through moments like these, my “culture shock” wasn’t a shock anymore. Of course at first it was very nerve racking and scary but, that is just a natural reaction for everyone no matter what age you’re.


All in all, adjusting to a new culture wasn’t easy for myself, and for most people in general. We always think about the negative effects rather then the positive ones and it blocks out being opened up to the countries new culture. Hopefully when I go to Korea or New Zealand for my abroad program, I will be able to open up and become positive. Overcoming something in general is always a hard task and Janet Bennett really explains in her article “Transition Shock” about basically all the reasons on why going somewhere else is a difficult process. I was reminiscing about my past when I read her article because the information was spot on. Now that I’m older, I can confidentially say that learning about a new culture will be interesting and fun rather then intimidating and lonely.

Bennett, Janet. “Transition Shock.” N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.


3 thoughts on “Cultural Shock

  1. Though I have only moved from State to State within the U.S. I feel like I experienced something similar (if on a much smaller scale). Making friends and talking to people in a new location is difficult. But like you said, mentality is crucial to adapting. Going at it with a positive mindset I believe will greatly help in adjusting to transition/culture shock. Approaching this with an open mind will greatly allow us to appreciate the differences and aspects of the cultures we will experience.

  2. I enjoyed reading about your experience when you first came to America. What I noticed around campus is that many students turn away from international students because they believe international students only stick with each other or think they’re not friendly. I feel that if other students got the chance to understand how it feels to be in an entirely different country and how they must adapt to the culture around them there wouldn’t be too much of a disconnect.

  3. I’ve never had to move like you have, but have had to make transitions of making new friends at a school when I did move, though it wasn’t for the same reasons. The shock was definitely different as you said, and I did the same thing by blocking people out and not wanting to talk to them. I really enjoyed reading your post and I relate to many things you said, even though I didn’t experience as extreme of a culture shock as you.

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