According to International Student and Scholar Services records, there are currently 2,247 international students attending K-State. Even though these students hail from 105 different countries, they all have one thing in common: culture shock.
Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life or set of attitudes. Some may assume that international students do not know how to handle the culture shock of moving here. But, in reality, many of them actually understand and have become accustomed to a great deal our culture already. For many of them, the adjustment came to little details here and there.
“Here, it is more reserved and not as social as we see it,” Jiyoung Kim, South Korean graduate student in human nutrition, said.
For Kim, culture shock hit her when she first came to the U.S. for her undergrad at the University of Arkansas and came in waves after with everyday social encounters. She said that she once asked her roommate if she could wear shoes in the room, because in South Korea shoes were cleaned regularly and mostly not worn inside certain rooms. Her roommate gave her a funny look, chuckled a bit and responded that she could do whatever she wanted.
From that experience, Kim said she learned how to be independent because, “that’s what Americans do.”
Although independence is an important aspect of American culture, friends and classmates play a big role with helping international students deal with culture shock.
Luis Bobadilla Dias, freshman in computer science from Paraguay, said the K-State community has helped him have a smooth transition to life in Manhattan from the start. His move in day was very organized and everyone in the resident halls helped him get settled in his room right away.
His main culture shock was American’s attitudes toward safety.
“People are really worried about your safety here,” Dias said. “It is much different in the city.”
Transportation has also been an adjustment. Back home in Asuncion, Paraguay, public transportation made it easy for Dias to get from one place to another quickly. Living in a more widespread city like Manhattan without public transportation has been a challenge, he said.
Many international students use the International Student and Scholar Services as a guide to help them adjust to life here in the U.S.
“Most of the students come to us for day-to-day cultural questions,” Sara Thurston-González, director of ISSS, said.
The office boasts a variety of programs to help students adjust to their new environment. A week before classes each semester, there is an orientation program to inform them of the basics. From then on, they host multiple activities and seminars to not only help international students meet other students here at K-State, but teach them about things like driving, healthcare and business.
These efforts, programs and people have made the K-State campus a welcoming place for students of all nationalities.