Francophone sojourners’ experiences of culture shock

Date of this Version

January 2004

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Details

Patron, Marie-Claire (2004) Francophone sojourners’ experiences of culture shock. In B. Bartlett, F. Bryer & R. Roebuck (Eds.), Educating: weaving research into practice (Vol. 3). Nathan, Qld: School of Cognition, Language, and Special Education, Griffith University and individual contributors.

This paper was presented to the 2nd Annual International Conference on Cognition, Language, and Special Education Research held at the Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise, Australia, 3-5 December 2004.


Whether one approaches the concept of culture shock from a psychological perspective, from whence the term originates with Oberg who first coined the phrase, from an academic, socio-cultural or anthropological standpoint, or from a more comprehensive approach, there is consensus on the notion that a period of adjustment is experienced by all involved in immersion experiences in a new culture. The initial phase of adjustment in a new country corresponds with the negative and stressful periods which can manifest in symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, irritability and a longing for a more predictable and gratifying environment. However, the predictor variables affecting the process of adjustment and duration of difficulties may vary dramatically for each individual. When one succeeds in transcending these transitional conflicts in intercultural contact situations, the experience offers the potential for authentic growth and personality development. Although the Francophone sojourners adapted successfully in Australia, a certain degree of culture shock was registered by the majority of respondents in spite of the many parallels between Francophone and Australian cultures. However they may not have perceived this state using the traditional term. The main indicators of culture shock were discernible in examples of pre-existing, negative cultural stereotypes, behavioural differences, academic practices and linguistic experiences.

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