The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James H. Robinson

Second Advisor

Michael W. Schwartz

Third Advisor

Kyounghee Seo

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Cultural Adjustments, culture shock, internatioanl students, cultural classes, cultural identity


This study aims to foster international students’ understanding of culture shock and cultural adjustment based on what they have learned from culture courses. For students to realize and respond appropriately to the cultural challenges, culture courses provide opportunities for students to comfortably discuss and share their experiences and struggles since it aims to raise cultural awareness by taking into account these in helping students modify or adjust them to be in accordance with the new culture. When courses enable students to talk about how those challenges/struggles may be solved in their classes, it better prepares students for what lies ahead. Furthermore, when students are more informed, they are less likely to be frustrated and overwhelmed which could result in fewer students quitting and return to their home country without achieving original goals. Therefore, the central emphasis of this study is to explore how well international students utilize the knowledge that they have learned in culture classes for better and smoother culture transition. This study aims to address efficacy of culture class on international students’ cultural adjustment period.

In this study, I interviewed seven international students who have attended culture classes at the regional public university in the Midwest U.S. in fall 2017 and spring 2018. Twelve interview questions were asked to find out how much the culture classes contributed positively to their culture adjustment process. Based on my research, I have found that regardless the international students’ ethnicity or original cultural backgrounds, there are many commonalities in expectations of the American education, and that at the same time, there are exceptions that are unique to people from specific cultures or disciplines. With all people, regardless the differences, some challenges and struggles will be intrinsic and some extrinsic. The more students are prepared for the challenges raised by cultural differences, the better they become successful in transition. Culture classes are consequently as important for the international students as academic class for the students who explore new life in another culture.


I would first like to express the deepest appreciation to my advisor Prof. James H. Robinson for the continuous support of my study and research with immense knowledge, for offering the field experience. Prof. Robinson was always near whenever I ran into troubles or had a question about my research or writing. I could not have imagined having a better advisor and mentor for my study in the U.S.

My sincere gratitude also goes to the rest of my thesis committee: Prof. Michael W. Schwartz and Prof. Kyounghee Seo for their encouragement, insightful comments, and hard questions. Without their passionate participation and input, writing this thesis could not have been successfully conducted.

I would also like to acknowledge my fellow, Sera Oh for the stimulating discussions and for all the support and encouragement during three-year-long study in the U.S. As an international student, I myself had experienced many challenges and difficulties in adapting to the new culture and the new learning environment. She is my best friend who always supports and believes in me. I am gratefully indebted to her that she was a big help when things were hard for me in the U.S.

Finally, I must express my very profound gratitude to my spouse, Haesoo Lee and my son, Yoonwoo Lee, for providing me with unfailing support and continuous encouragement throughout my years of study and through the process of researching and writing this thesis. This accomplishment would not have been possible without them. Thank you.



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