ACA Blog

Tara Overzat
Dec 07, 2010

Helping International Students with Acculturation

I spent two years in Beijing, China working as an English teacher. It was a fascinating opportunity to see a different culture and immerse myself in a completely foreign world. I was afforded the opportunity to travel throughout the country and have many treasured memories of my time there. Additionally, it has made me sympathetic to the challenges faced by international students attending college here in the US.

Like these students, I too was suddenly a minority in a country where I was not a native in the language. The sights, sounds, food, and customs were all very different. There were new social expectations placed on me and new etiquette to understand. For instance, America is a country where “please” and “thank you” are used quite often – so much so that we may be offended if a transaction happens in a store or between friends without these niceties. In China, however, it is commonplace to omit please and thank you in some situations – it is understood that the person is behaving politely and these terms are not needed so frequently. Just as I was surprised by the “rude” behavior of not hearing these words, Chinese students coming to the US may be just as surprised at this “overly formal” American behavior.

I was unprepared for this new environment and I had insufficient coping mechanisms for the difficulties I faced. Fortunately, there were many non-Chinese people I met who were facing the same homesickness and confusion as me. Sharing our stories and laughing at our similar mistakes helped me to feel less alone, and I realized that there is a learning curve in adapting to a new culture. In addition, I met many Chinese people who were quite kind to me and who helped me to better understand their way of life.

As counselors, we have the opportunity to change this situation for international students at college campuses around the country. At this unique time in history, with the rapid growth of globalization, counselors have the chance to truly make a difference in the lives of students and immigrants coming to the US. As a future counselor, I hope to use my experience with acculturation – the homesickness, the sadness, the understanding, and, eventually, a new integrated worldview – to help students, not only from China, but around the world.

Tara Overzat is a counselor-in-training at Mercer University in Atlanta. Her interests include multicultural issues and acculturation amongst college students. She also blogs at

Contact Name

Contact Title

Contact Email

Contact Phone

Related Info


  1. RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
    RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
    Toolbar's wrapper 
    Content area wrapper
    RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
    It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
    Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
    RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.
Join Now

  • Learn more about your specialty—join a division
  • Maximize your Professional Development
  • Stay ahead of the educational learning curve
  • Advocate for the counseling care of tomorrow
  • Expand your networking connections
  • More Member Benefits