By: Andrew Turgeon, Enrollment Services Coordinator
A.C.E. Language Institutes support their students throughout the challenging but vastly rewarding journey of living abroad. This week, the A.C.E. Language Institute at SPU helped new students transition into their new lives by leading them through a discussion about confronting culture shock and counseling them on how to transition into American colleges.
Culture shock was a not a foreign concept to this fresh-faced group. Ji Eun thought that Americans would not be friendly but now they were opening doors for her, saying hello to her on the street, and helping her with her English. Fadhel believed that the United States would be much more organized, advanced, and open-minded than his home country. While he had met many open-minded Americans and appreciated the structure of school life, he was disappointed by how inefficient public transportation was. Through this discussion one realizes that students confront their new homes differently, and that these confrontations, both positive and negative, make up culture shock.
Kara Schultheiss, our SPU Student Services Coordinator, reassured the group that culture shock is a normal everyday part of living in a new country. She led them through the various stages of culture shock – from the honeymoon of the initial arrival, through the feelings of frustration and isolation, to the confidence that comes from cultural integration – and stressed that each student will go through these stages differently. She ended the conversation by suggesting ways to overcome the negative feelings associated with culture shock. Some students even added to Kara’s suggestions, such as to avoid being alone, to reach out to new friends, and to take advantages of new opportunities.
One such opportunity that many A.C.E. students are focused on is the American college experience. Barbara James, an A.C.E. academic advisor, spoke with students about American college life and the timeline of the college application process. She meets with interested students one-on-one to discuss their academic interests and study options in order to find their best fit schools. Barbara and her colleague, Gek Lee Stevens, also coordinate college visits and help A.C.E. students with their application materials.
From their first days in the U.S. to the transition into an American university, A.C.E. students are guided one step at a time by A.C.E. staff. This effort does not go unnoticed: A.C.E. students consistently rank our friendly and helpful staff as the best aspect of their experience studying abroad.