Reducing Culture Shock

Culture shock occurs when your values and customs conflict with those of a new culture.  When this happens, misunderstandings and confusion can occur.  There are several ways to lessen the impact of culture shock.

  • Avoid stereotypes.  The United States is a “melting pot,” and you will meet people from many different ethnicities, religions, and attitudes.  Although you may notice many things that Americans do differently than people in your country, believing in a stereotype of a “typical American” will slow your adjustment.
  • Keep an open mind.  Consider that there are many different attitudes and ways of doing something, not just one “right” way.  Try not to judge or criticize differences between your culture and others.  Appreciate and learn from the differences!
  • Talk about your culture and the adjustment process.  If you are confused or are having difficulty with some issues, don’t be afraid to say so!  Admitting “In my culture, I am used to doing this in a different way…” can help “break the ice” and ease your adjustment.  Your roommates, professors, and classmates are eager to learn about your culture, so sharing your thoughts with them can help build trust.  In addition, you can always confide in your teachers, the Center for International Education, the Dean of Students, the Associate Deans, a Counselor, or a Resident Advisor.  We are here to help you in any way we can.
  • Speak English.  Good communication skills in the English language will help you to feel comfortable at Rider much more quickly.  The more you use English, the more fluent you will become.  Don’t worry about making mistakes!
  • Join the Conversation Group at The Rider Learning Center.  Meet bi-weekly with an English-as-a- Second Language Specialist and other interested international and American students in an informal atmosphere.  Discuss a variety of topics chosen by the students and improve cultural awareness and communication in a supportive environment (x-5640).
  • Join the International Student Club.  Meet with international and American students to plan international activities on and off campus (x-7717).

  • Take advantage of the friendship of your International Student Mentor. Mentors are current international or domestic student who have offered to provide support to incoming international students during their first year at Rider. For more information contact the Center for International Education (x-7717).

  • Become a resident of the International Community Residence Hall. International students on the Lawrenceville campus can live with domestic students in a unique learning and living community. Here they can share experiences across cultures, improve their foreign language skills, and participate in and organize events that highlight their cultures. Contact Residence Life for more information.