By Megan McCall
Photo courtesy of FUA
When students are looking to study internationally, an important factor includes the academic and cultural opportunities in order to enrich an experience, whether students are seeking to pursue their primary areas of academic interest or coursework normally not offered back home.
Although several psychology classes are offered at FUA, a valuable option is Cross-Cultural Psychology, which explores topics students tend to experience such as culture shock in a new environment. Faculty member Melissa Rossi, who teaches this course at FUA, defines culture shock as “The feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” She continues to explain, “You don’t necessarily need to be in another culture to experience culture shock, but it does become more obvious in other countries.”
Culture shock is highly common when abroad, and this course aims to help individuals understand why they may be feeling and reacting to their new environment in certain ways. Claire Rompa, a student currently taking the course, explains, “I enjoy this course because it lets me apply what I learn in class to situations I experience in Florence. When I feel upset or frustrated, I approach the problem with flexibility and try to recognize what occurred during the interaction.”
The phases of culture shock are among the first topics discussed in the course. These phases include the Honeymoon Phase, Frustration, Adjustment, and Mastery. Like Claire, many students are able to better understand their experiences abroad after discussing culture shock and each phase associated with the process. The course is known for being challenging because students must thoroughly reflect on their own time abroad, yet the outcome is rewarding. The topics discussed in the classroom can be applied when students return home as well, impacting their perspective on daily life.
Through the courses at FUA, students are given the opportunity to choose classes in order to make the most out of their time in Italy. Whether in or out of the classroom, they are required to think critically about their experiences, and classes such as Cross-Cultural Psychology pave the way for a deeper engagement with one's surroundings.
Future editions of Cross-Cultural Psychology at FUA can be consulted at the academic schedule of courses.