A1: What Does Cultural Adjustment Mean?

Cultural adjustment refers to the complex process of adapting to a new and unfamiliar culture. Cultural adjustment can be experienced when moving to (or just visiting) a new place, even in the same country. For example, a U.S. citizen might experience cultural adjustment when moving from New York to Dallas or from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles. Have you ever experienced cultural adjustment?

How quickly and well a person adjusts to a new culture depends on several factors. These include personality, background experiences, the differences and similarities between the person’s native culture and the new culture, and the adjustment assistance available.

Although different people adjust in different ways to a new culture, most experience some difficulty before feeling comfortable in their new environment. Newcomers are learning to function in an unfamiliar culture in a language they may not know well, and they may be doing this without an extended network of family and friends. Even those who have come to the U.S. with family and friends may find that others close to them are also adjusting and are unable to provide support. Understanding the cultural adjustment process will help you better understand your assigned newcomer family’s experience.


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