Intercultural Counseling - Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
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What is "culture shock"?

The impact that initial experiences in a foreign culture have on a person's psychological and physical condition is often understood as culture shock. The separation from familiarity can lead to insecurity, general unease or loss of orientation. Culture shock is a process in which the individual adjusts emotionally and physically to the new surroundings and after a certain period begins to feel comfortable again. If in the past culture shock was viewed as an almost abnormal condition (hence the word "shock"), today it is regarded more positively as an essential step on the way to intercultural competence.

Students studying abroad experience varying levels of culture shock depending their personal profile, proficiency in the foreign language, living conditions, etc. The current political and economic position of their country in the international community also has a significant influence on the (mostly subconscious) feelings of superiority or inferiority. A case in point is the very different assessment of American and Eastern European students by their German classmates.