Efficacy of an International Student Orientation Course
Bell, Mark Reeves
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Culture shock is a prominent phenomenon for international students when beginning college. The term ‘culture shock’ is defined as a negative emotional reaction caused by the overwhelming and confusing flood of unfamiliar behavior in a new culture. Culture shock induces stress through frustration with culture norms, and experiencing culture shock causes many struggles including language difficulties, homesickness, and social isolation. Culture shock is salient to undergrads because they are young and seemingly on their own immediately after they move. Moreover, American colleges and universities have dramatically increased their numbers of international students, especially students from culturally different eastern countries. These particular students have shown noticeable levels of culture shock during their first semester of college. This study was designed to determine the efficacy of a three-week international student orientation course for first-year international students. The first session introduced students to possible differences they might experience in the American culture and the social norms put in place. The second session introduced students to the wide variety of resources on and off campus. This was an informational session to help compensate for the shortened FASET orientation that international students receive. The third session introduced students to different role-playing scenarios, including negotiating a friendship, working in groups, and meeting a professor for office hours. Measurements for the efficacy included mental health surveys over seven weeks, pre- and post-course questions on culture shock, and course evaluations. Due to low participation, the quantitative analysis returned statistically non-significant results. Regardless, the study showed promise in future research.