Cultural shock of North American educators living and working in international schools in Latin America

Michelle Annette Ganiere Remington

Abstract

International education is a growing profession around the world. Each year international educators move to new countries and inevitably experience a certain degree of culture shock, meaning they are unable, or find it difficult, to adapt to their new surroundings. International education is a unique profession and as this field continues to grow, more will need to be done to assist teachers during this period of adaptation. For this study, thirty-eight international schools in Latin America were allowed to participate. The surveys contained fifty-eight questions related to different aspects of culture shock and international education. A total of 155 North American educators living in eleven different countries chose to participate. They all met the requirement of living in the host country for less than twelve months. This study focused on how certain factors influenced culture shock in a number of international educators. It was found that age, gender, living with a partner, and having prior overseas experience all have a statistically significant effect on one's level of culture shock. As age increased an educator's level of culture shock tended to decrease. Males were found to experience less severe culture shock than females, and teaching couples experienced less culture shock than teaching singles. Those participants with prior overseas experience clearly experienced less culture shock than those that had little or no prior overseas experience.