A qualitative examination of culture shock and the influential factors affecting newly-arrived Korean students at Texas A&M University
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The primary purpose of the study was to reveal the perceptions of three newlyarrived male Korean students enrolled in Texas A&M University during the 2007 fall semester regarding their experiences with culture shock and the reasons they ascribed for this phenomenon through three in-depth, individualized interviews and weekly L1 journals. The manner in which they responded to the culture shock as well as the influential factors that assisted them in coping was also explored. By using a constant comparative method of analysis, the collected data was scrutinized and analyzed for emerging patterns. To assist in this process, the data was input into computer files and analyzed using the software program NVivo 7. The findings uncovered the existence of some degree of culture shock for each of the three participants at different times throughout the semester. In particular, a comparatively much higher incidence of interpersonal and psychological symptoms of culture shock than of physiological ones was displayed. Strong support for the individual nature of culture shock was also exhibited. In addition, the participants’ perceptions of the experiences as well as their ability to cope or not cope with culture shock revealed a capacity to overcome obstacles and reflect upon differences. Support for the majority of the factors hypothesized to be influential in helping or hindering the participants’ ability to cope with culture shock was exhibited. The noteworthy impact of the participants’ personal outlook, marital status, length of stay in the U.S., religiosity, and previous international experience on lessening the effects of culture shock was found. The influence of English, the university, and social connectedness, however, was important in increasing their adjustment stress. The cultural and ethnic differences between Korea and the U.S. were found to be the source of highly individual challenges faced by the participants during the study. As all the participants were males and their ages were within five years of each other, it was not possible to compare the influence of these variables among them. The only factor expected to have been influential in the participants’ adjustments to culture shock that was not evident was counseling.
McLeod, Kent Doehr (2008). A qualitative examination of culture shock and the influential factors affecting newly-arrived Korean students at Texas A&M University. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from