Chapter 6: International Job Seekers & Job Seekers with Disabilities

Understanding and Preparing for Cultural Adjustment

As you integrate into a new culture, it can be very disorienting; therefore, it is important to
maintain awareness about how you are feeling. Given the complete change in environment and a total shift in cultural expectations, it is not uncommon for international students to experience some form of culture shock when they encounter unfamiliar conditions. If you are experiencing culture shock, you may experience a range of symptoms that can include boredom, homesickness, helplessness, and irritation. There are four phases of culture shock (Oberg, 1954), and each individual will experience these phases differently, as the process is not linear.

  • Honeymoon: You feel very positive, you are satisfied with your decision and you are excited and fascinated by your new surroundings.
  • Frustration: You become anxious or confused that there are so many differences and you feel as though you lack the understanding to deal with them. It is common to experience feelings of depression or even to withdraw from your surroundings, with the desire to return home where things are familiar.
  • Adjustment: As your surroundings become more comfortable and expectations become clearer, you are more able to manage the changes and solve cultural problems; slowly you begin to appreciate the differences and incorporate them into your own beliefs. Adapting
    to a new culture does not mean you are losing your own culture.
  • Acceptance: You are able to comfortably participate in the new culture, and you even feel
    a sense of belonging.

Although it is normal for an international student to experience culture shock, it is integral that you have the appropriate coping strategies to deal with it. To manage your symptoms, consider the following suggestions:

  • Regularly keeping in touch with your family and friends back home
  • Staying connected to your roots by having things in your space that remind you of home
  • Interacting with other international students, sharing your experiences, and seeking their advice
  • Becoming familiar with your surroundings, accepting the common norms and behaviours
  • Connecting to the culture, making new friends and participating in Canadian cultural activities
  • Taking care of your health by properly eating, exercising and getting enough sleep.
  • Being patient with yourself, it will take some time to adjust


For support in managing your cultural adjustment, reach out to:


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Be the Boss of Your Career: A Complete Guide for Students & Grads Copyright © 2021 by Lindsay Bortot and Employment Support Centre, Algonquin College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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