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Cultural Adjustment

office of international programs



Once you have arrived at your study-abroad destination, please be sure to contact your family. Next, please login to the OIP database and complete the "Local Address Abroad Questionnaire." Remember to check your BC email address for important updates during your time abroad.


Once abroad, you may face an adjustment period referred to as "culture shock." The degree of "shock" depends on such factors as length of study abroad, your flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity, degree of difference between your home and host culture, prior experience abroad, and your expectations. Culture shock is a normal part of study abroad. It shows that you are experiencing the differences between your culture and that of the host country. Symptoms of culture shock can include: homesickness, depression, feeling lost and out of place, frustration, irritability, and fatigue. If you experience culture shock, remember that you are not alone and will get through it.

Some suggestions for dealing with culture shock include:

  • "Plunge" into your host culture and wrestle with the differences.

  • Keep an open mind. We all have preconceived ideas and beliefs that come into question while abroad.

  • Get to know others at your host school. Do not isolate yourself.

  • Find a "cultural informant," such as a local person with whom you can discuss your frustrations and encounters with difference.

  • Learn as much as you can about your host culture. Maintain a support structure with others, particularly those going through the same experience. However, do not retreat into an American "clique" to avoid the discomfort of culture shock.

  • Keep a journal. Record your impressions of new experiences and the transformations that are occurring within you.
    Remember that insight results from sustained and direct contact with your host culture, not from observation at a safe distance.

  • As you overcome culture shock, you will be able to approach life in your host country with understanding and enthusiasm.


Countries have different laws regarding alcohol and drug use. We remind you to behave responsibly. All students studying abroad are asked to acknowledge and observe Boston College and host university policy on student conduct involving the abuse of alcohol or drugs.