Culture Shock and American Students Abroad: Building a Better Orientation Program
Montgomery, Helen J.
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Since the beginning of recorded history, civilizations have been sending individuals to foreign cultures to trade, study, convert, relocate, or conquer. The University of Taxila in India became an important international institution during the reign of the Emperor Asoka the Great (273-232 B.C.), and along with having students from allover Asia Minor, also required its graduates to travel abroad once their studies had been completed (Furnham and Bochner, 1982, 161). The T'ang Dynasty (620-907) in China encouraged international education, as did Alexander the Great, and the early Roman emperors (Furnham and Bochner, 1982, 162). Moving into more modern times, after World War II, countries began creating grants and foundations to help send students to study in foreign cultures. While research into the area of cross cultural relations began in the 1930's, with the pUblication of Stonequist's The Marginal Man (still used by some to explain adverse reactions to a new culture), this educational exchange of students studying abroad led to a wave of research in the area of cross-cultural relations (Furnham and Bochner, 1982, 162). The most commonly known, and perhaps most influential, phenomenon was first named by Kalvero Oberg in 1960, when he introduced the process of "culture shock" to the world. As with most things, once named, the idea was forever in existence, and the research wave began. People tried to reshape Oberg's ideas, concentrating perhaps on one aspect only, and new names were given for the process. Guthrie (1975) gave us "culture fatigue," Smalley (1963) "language shock," Byrnes (1966) "role shock," and Ball-Rokeach (1973) "pervasive ambiguity." The name that stuck, however, was Oberg's "culture shock," and is used by everyone today to describe what a person visiting a new culture may go through.