Fulbright to India Guide – 2021-2022

Cultural Adjustment

Many factors affect the way individuals adjust to a new culture.  There is, of course, personality factors, such as the degree of self-confidence, a person’s sense of humour, interpersonal skills, tolerance of ambiguous or frustrating experiences, etc.  Other factors hinge on the nature of the differences between your culture and the host culture, your past experience in foreign settings, and the specific conditions that surround you.

Remember that for every interaction or behaviour you find strange, there is probably a corresponding response or behaviour of yours likely to baffle somebody else.  Observe your own emotions and reactions, listen and observe, ask questions, keep a sense of humour, and be patient with yourself!

Fortunately, you are part of the large community of Fulbrighters, and you will find many people to talk with when you need to.  U.S. Fulbright alumni, Indian Fulbrighters, USIEF staff and other colleagues will be able to advise you on how to handle situations you encounter.

Culture Shock

Social scientists who have studied the phenomenon of cultural adjustment identify phases in the adjusting process.  Awareness of this phenomenon may help you develop strategies to strengthen your commitment to your project and enrich your experiences in India.  Recognize that, no matter how experienced a traveller you may be, at some point you may experience culture shock during your time in India.

Honeymoon phase– In this phase, everything about the country is new and you will be excited to LEARN more about the culture and people of the country.

Negotiation phase- After few weeks, you may experience homesickness and daily simple tasks like going to your institute or even grocery shopping may seem challenging. This may be aggravated if you do not have local language knowledge.

Adjustment phase- After about 2-3 months, you will gradually get accustomed to the new culture as you understand the people and your surroundings.

Reverse culture shock- This may happen to some grantees when you finally go back home to the US after a long grant duration in India.

Countering Culture Shock

Experts have suggested a few steps to help successfully manage cultural adjustment:

Learn the language –  If you are on a longer grant period, try to learn the local language. Read the section on Local Language for information about language institutes in India. You can also reach out to USIEF staff for additional recommendations of language institutes. Not only will you learn a new language, but you will get to meet other foreigners who may be experiencing similar situations.

Prepare for cultural differencesIt is a great idea to come prepared to India by reading about the country and its culture. If possible, talk to your friends/colleagues who have lived in India about their experiences. This will help you to be familiar with the new culture and minimize misunderstandings due to cultural differences.

Be open-minded- Being non-judgmental and open to accepting cultural differences is extremely important when trying to settle in a new country.

Be patient– It takes time for all of us to adjust to a new environment. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes.

Take time offWhen you are too exhausted trying to adjust, take a deep breath and do any activity that you have always enjoyed doing like reading a book, order a pizza, or watch movie.

For more information on cultural adjustment, please check out the following sites:



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