Culture Shock in California

California has its own unique culture that can take some time for international students to get used to at Hancock International College. Here is an article titled “7 Culture Shocks for International Students in California” by Student World Online for our ESL students to check out especially prior to coming.

Student World Online says, “Los Angeles is famously known as the ‘City of Angels’, although the idea of becoming a full-fledged resident of its home-state California can cause a hellish fear. This state is possibly most famous for sun, celebrities and its legendary Hollywood sign, which might start you wondering how you’d fit in during your stay there. Easily, you probably think. American life is the most highly documented and identifiable in the world. You might even know more about Californians than you do your own neighbours. But the films and TV shows might just be a façade on the face of a far more complex society. Culture shock is a cunning monster to wrestle with, so here are a few unique Californian features to prepare for when visiting the state.

1. Seeing beyond the media mask – California hides under the illusion of familiarity. The malls, roads, accent, houses and clothes all appear uniquely American, but also comfortingly recognisable. The presence of California in our media leads you into false confidence that you truly know the state’s culture and civilians, but it’s only once you’ve been zapped through the TV screen that culture shock packs its hardest punch. […]

5. School, college or university? – It’s worth knowing that American universities have a distinctive structure, if you’re heading to California for studying. Their curriculum promotes general education classes rather than only those directly associated with your chosen course. This gives a broader scope of knowledge and you can even learn more about the politics and history of the country from an American perspective. Also, multiple choice tests and assignments usually require shorter word counts but are assigned more frequently. Interestingly, you could share a class with someone who’s studied for several years, as Americans have great control over the duration of their course. Reassuringly, universities here often have a great community spirit to make you feel at home and plenty of clubs for making friends.

6. Friendliness or friendship? – […] Often Californians greet you with: ‘Hey, how are you?’ except they never wait for your response. This makes them seem insincere, but it’s just a salutation used daily among even close friends. So stop yourself from unleashing an emotional response and consider it a more welcoming greeting than a simple ‘Hello’.

7. Californians: Kings of Chat – It’s no secret that Americans are generally believed to be a confident and garrulous bunch. Outside America, silent seminars reign supreme and many students will be too shy or tired to actively participate in dreary debates. But those Californians love to raise their hand and say their piece. But don’t be nervous; this should push you to be more proactive in the class.”

Full Article:

Idiom of the Day


Meaning: cool or awesome—not ill.

Example: Wow, your new car is sick!