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Issues of Culture Shock Faced by International Students

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The complex changes confronting the world today, particularly those resulting from the impact of globalization and technological revolution, have radically transformed the world in every aspect, especially the higher education field.

By creating new systems of knowledge, learning and education furthermore breaking the boundaries of space and time between nations, the education opportunities became wider and boundless (Van Damme, 2001) in other words the cross-border mobility of students was encouraged and emerged. Students mobility is concerned with students who are in a foreign country for educational purposes (UNESCO, 2015). The number of students moving around the world has expanded extensively since the past twenty years and it is expected to increase even more in the next decade, From the World Bank Data, the British Council declared that the number of international students rose from 2 million in 2000 to 4 million in 2012, by 2017, that number has increased to exceed 5.3 million (UNESCO, 2019), and it is expected to hit 8 million IS worldwide by 2025.

Over the last decades, there has been an increasing interest in the impact of migration on mental health, and it has been identified as a stressful process that can cause a risk to the psychological and physical health of migrants (Bhugna & Jones, 2001), the immigrant students may also suffer psychological and physical problems associated with moving to an unfamiliar environment (Pantelidon Craig, 2006).the last studies show that nearly all the study-abroad students have confronted a set of acculturative stressors and challenges such as the language barrier, educational environment, loneliness, and race problems (Lin & Yi,1997; Smith & Khawaja, 2011). There are hundreds of different and strange things which tend to make international students feel anxious, confused, and shocked; the well-known term that describes these feelings is “culture shock». Phuong (1993) stated that “culture shock is a real phenomenon that is facing everybody who is living in a new culture”.

As the number of international students increases demand for culture shock understanding is necessary by both teachers and educational institutions that deal with international students.

The present study investigated the culture shock among international students at Batna Universities –MOSTAFA BEN BOULAIDE &EL HADJ LKHDR-.In general, these students are African, Christian, and Non-Arab speakers. The focus of the study is to determine what the dominant elements contribute to culture shock .and its impact on international students also focuses on providing some strategies even solutions that would help international students to cope more effectively while adapting to the changes of a new environment. The following questions will be addressed in this study:

  • Do international students face culture shock at Batna University?
  • What elements contribute to culture shock for international students?
  • What is the impact of culture shock on international students' academic, and social life and their psychological state ?
  • What strategies did the international students use to cope and how can The educational institutions and student union help them to cope more effectively to the new cultural milieu?

These questions, in return, led the researchers to assume the following hypothesis

  • Almost all international students experienced culture shock in both social and academic life.
  • A series of factors might contribute to culture shock, not just one, such as Cultural differences and misunderstanding, the language and fear of contact.
  • Culture shock usually causes psychological confusion and emotional discomfort which have negatively affected international students' academic life and psychological state.
  • International students use various effective self-help coping strategies to manage culture shock such as sharing their stress and anxiety with others and learn more about Algerian culture by participating in cultural activities. The educational institutions and student union have a key role to play in the adjustment process and have a lot of things may help international students to cope with the host culture.

Research objectives :

For most students –international students &local students- culture shock is a strange event, which is little understood and undefined, so the main aim of this research is to explore the international students’ culture shock experiences to get a better understanding about culture shock .this study makes an attempt to identify the main factors that contribute to culture shock during their period of study in Batna and it takes into account the negative impact of this event on international students ‘psychology and their academic and social life, also to find out the efforts can be done to minimize its impact and help them now and in the future to adopt more easily.

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Organization of the dissertation:

This dissertation has been divided into a general introduction, three chapters, and a general conclusion. The first chapter is a theoretical background that provides a deep insight into culture shock; it gives a broad definition of this phenomenon and a detailed description of its stages. The second chapter explains the methodology used in this study. It is concerned to examine the culture shock at Batna university in order to investigate the experience of the international students with this event in their host educational institutions also included in this chapter its impact, as well as its symptoms, are discussed. The third chapter offers some strategies and educational institutions, and student unions’ efforts that help international students to cope effectively and return to their normal life.

Limitations of the study:

The researchers faced several limitations with this study. the first limitation was the lack of human subjects. Because of the closure of educational institutions due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the researchers faced a challenge to find an appropriate sample for their study. The second limitation was the lack of face-to-face contact. Since the current study is qualitative, it typically relies on face-to-face interaction for data collection through interviews, it is just difficult to ask our questions without having the opportunity to see their body language and the internet did not solve this problem. The language barrier was another problem; some participants do not speak or even understand English so the researchers were supposed to translate the questions into their native language.

Significance of the study:

The present study draws attention to international students, as well as defines their problems, especially those resulting from cultural differences.

The findings of this study may provide knowledge about culture shock and how to deal with it. This knowledge may better prepare international students to face the issue of culture shock.

The university may start paying attention to international students, and recognize their needs, to provide supportive resources and services which may help them to cope with the new milieu and minimize the negative impact of culture shock on their academic and social life.

Research Methodology and Design

This chapter includes the methods that have been used in this study to investigate the issue of culture shock among international students.

Choice of the method:

To achieve the objectives of the study and confirm or rebut the hypothesis proposed to the research questions, we need to choose a specific method. The choice of the method is related to the nature of the subject, the aim of the study, and the collected data as Silverman said «the choice between different research methods should depend upon what you are trying to find out…(and if) you are concerned with exploring people’s life histories or everyday behavior, then qualitative methods may be favored”. And, as far as our thesis is concerned, the most appropriate method is the qualitative one, under which we can understand in depth the issue of culture shock faced by international students.

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Issues of Culture Shock Faced by International Students. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“Issues of Culture Shock Faced by International Students.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Issues of Culture Shock Faced by International Students. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Mar. 2024].
Issues of Culture Shock Faced by International Students [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Mar 5]. Available from:
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