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Global Health Resources: Culture Shock

Information for when you go overseas

These resources are meant to assist you personally when you travel internationally to undertake global health initiatives. Culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply travel to another type of life

Cultural competency is developing an awareness of the culture you are going into and understanding their belief system and values.

How and Where to Search

Getting started...

Finding information on cultural competency, culture shock, reverse culture shock and related topics can be difficult often because there are many aspects and variations within these topics. For example, one can experience culture shock traveling or living abroad, while one can experience culture shock moving between different professional fields. Even the term "culture" can be used in myriad ways, sometimes completely unrelated to culture shock/diversity/competency, such as "cell cultures."

Here are some terms to try in addition to other topic-specific terms when beginning your search:

Cultural Competency
Cultural Diversity
Culture Shock
Reverse Culture Shock
Transcultural Nursing
Transcultural Care
Transcultural Psychiatry
Cultural Sensitivity
Reality Shock
Social Adjustment
Organizational Culture
Cross Cultural Differences
Cross Cultural Psychology
Culture Change

Some databases to search in:


Travel-related Cultural Resources


International Travel
From the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, this site has information on international travel, tips for traveling and living abroad, travel alerts, and a 
searchable database of country information, including information related to entry/exit requirements for U.S. citizens.

World-Wide Cultural E-Resources
Compiled by Culturelink Network (created by UNESCO), this list includes resources, publications, international organizations and institutions.

Online courses (publicly available/free of charge)

Unite for Sight's Cultural Competency Online Course
Eleven modules cover various aspects of cultural competency and awareness training, including culture shock, designed for those volunteering and working abroad 
(for Unite for Sight or other organizations), particularly in clinical settings.

What's Up With Culture?
From the University of the Pacific's School of International Studies, three modules provide information and resources geared towards students studying abroad but can be applied beyond students.

Books & publications - print and electronic

Oversees Clincial Elective: A Survival Guide for Health Care Workers (1997)

The Psychology of Culture Shock (2001)

The Five Stages of Culture Shock: Critical Incidents Around the World (1995)

Being There: Learning to Live Cross-Culturally (2011)

According to My Passport, I'm Coming Home (1998) 

The Global Citizen: A Guide to Creating an International Life and Career (2002 in both print and e-book)

The Culture Shock! country series of books