"Dreams Come True" United States of America by hunterV

United States of America Travel Guide: 299,415 reviews and 710,330 photos

In the USA At Last!

To visit the United States has always been my dream as an English teacher. I knew I couldn't afford it with my modest school wages. Therefore I decided to take part in teachers' contests organized and sponsored by the then United States Information Agency in Ukraine.
I took part in the contests two times and my third attempt was very successful: I was selected for a six-week Partners in Education professional development seminar in the United States.
So I had a chance of staying in the United States for six weeks as an exchange teacher.
Partners in Education teachers exchange program was sponsored by the US Information Agency (USIA) and administered by the American Councils for International Education (ACIE) on behalf of the USIA.
This exchange program supports democracy-building efforts in Russia and Ukraine by providing us, educators, with the opportunity to observe the US civic education at secondary schools as well as at colleges.

"Partners in Education!"

There were thirty teachers from Ukraine and thirty teachers from Russia who came to Washington D.C. in early October 1999. Each group of ten teachers was sent to a certain state that was selected by the US Department of Education: Montana, California, Ohio and Indiana. Our group of educators from Luhansk was sent to the state of Wisconsin.

I spent a month in the State of Wisconsin in the city of Green Bay. I had my internship at Notre Dame Academy, a private Catholic school, and stayed in the family of teachers. Also, our group visited Madison, Appleton, Door County (a very popular resort), Monroe, Platteville, Milwaukee and Chicago.

My total time in the United States was approximately six weeks. I had a chance to observe classes and engage in program and curriculum development, to deliver presentations at the host school and other local schools, to make site-visits to other schools, to take part in professional development workshops and to review and collect teaching materials for use in my home school. Besides, local excursions and activities were scheduled during the internship period as well as some free time to pursue individual interests. So I lived according to a preliminary schedule and I cannot say I did not know what to do each day. I think I was as busy as a bee!

Expect the Unexpected

I always kept in mind one hard fast rule about living in the United States: expect the unexpected. I had to discover and to adapt to local customs.

The first of many adjustments I had to make during my stay in the United States was to adjust to a new time zone. After a long flight from Ukraine, it took two or three days to rid myself of feelings of disorientation and sleepiness, or jet lag. I tried to get used to my new time schedule as soon as possible.

Our lecturers from American Councils for International Education in Washington D.C. delivered a lot of interesting lectures to us during our Orientation Seminar in the American capital. Now I know that, according to scientists, there is a general cycle of emotional phases that a person experiences when entering a new culture, especially if the person intends to remain there for a lengthy period of time. They often speak of the so-called "culture shock" of those who work or study abroad and who have to adjust to a new country and a new culture that may be very different from that of his or her country. You may feel disoriented or even silly as you try to learn how to do simple things. Besides, you will deal with the pressures of using English twenty-four hours a day. You should be aware that this culture shock has different phases and that you will feel normal again. These are the phases I got to know both theoretically and practically during my stay in the US:

Phase 1: The honeymoon period This is a time in which everything will seem new and exciting to you. You will be happy to explore and everything will seem interesting to you.

Phase 2: Alienation/cultural fatigue During this phase you will realize that you will have to work to adjust to the new culture. You may feel stressed, isolated, irritated, bewildered, depressed, homesick or unmotivated. You may begin to eat or to sleep too much. You may also become angry over minor things or believe that you are ill.

Phase 3: Rejection of the host culture At this point you may feel hostile toward the United States as the cause of your discomfort. You may begin to make generalizations about the United States and wonder how United States citizens can live as they do. You may begin to doubt whether you should have come to the United States. You may not want to speak English and may withdraw from others.

Phase 4: The new culture begins to make sense During this time you will begin to gain new knowledge and understanding. You will become more self-confident and outgoing. You will start to feel proud that you understand the American cultures as well as you do.

Phase 5: Adaptation to the new culture At this point you will feel comfortable and effective as you interact in the new cultural environment. You may accept living in a new culture and feel respect and enjoyment of cultural differences.

Scientists always say that these feelings are normal.
Personally I always remembered I was not the only one who had gone through all those phases. I just tried to keep an open mind and to accept new things. I tried to keep my sense of humor and tried not to be embarrassed easily. And, of course, I knew there were others to help me : our host advisors and my fellow program participants.
I can say this trip was a success and now I am looking forward to another trip to the United States!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:friendly people, wonderful houses and offices, abundance of goods
  • Cons:very busy traffic
  • In a nutshell:A Proud Country
  • Last visit to United States of America: Oct 1999
  • Intro Updated Jan 11, 2015
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Reviews (21)

Comments (50)

  • german_eagle's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    This exchange certainly was a great opportunity and experience for you. Thanks for your insight into American classrooms, very interesting! Even for only 3 weeks I went through "culture shock" :-)

    • hunterV's Profile Photo
      Apr 8, 2016 at 12:37 PM

      Thanks a lot, Ingo! It was a great experience indeed...

  • Odiseya's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2016 at 8:17 AM

    I like your introduction. Very interesting and insightful! I hope I will opportunity to get trough "cultural shock" one day.

  • lmkluque's Profile Photo
    Jan 16, 2015 at 12:33 PM

    Victor, it has been interesting to read your USA page!! My cousin visited from Slovakia and went through the stages you outlined. I also noticed that happening with my own students when I worked for a foreign exchange program here in California some years ago. I really enjoyed your perspective!

    • hunterV's Profile Photo
      Jan 16, 2015 at 10:26 PM

      Our hosts taught us all those things and we were all very thankful to them!

    • lmkluque's Profile Photo
      Jan 17, 2015 at 11:56 AM

      Yes, it makes it easier to understand what is happening at the time.

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    Great updates since December of 2008, Victor! You were so successful in your contests and you have been so lucky to spend six weeks in the USA! Having some plans on the USA I reread your page with pleasure.

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Apr 28, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Victor, fabulous page about your internship in Green Bay in Wisconsin. I especially like your descriptions about your personal impressions. Well done.

  • Rich62's Profile Photo
    Apr 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    The five phases of "cultural adaptation" that you list are fascinating. I have never seen them before, but they certainly make sense. I wish that I could have met you while you were in the U.S.

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Dec 29, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    It sounds like you had a great experience coming to visit the US. You are lucky that you were with a host family that could explain things to you, many people don't have that chance. I can imagine you must have been very surprised, it is very different, no? Your local customs tips were especially interesting to me. some very perceptive insights. nice to learn from perceptions like these. I hope you will get to visit again someday and see some different parts of the country as well

  • rexvaughan's Profile Photo
    Apr 28, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    It is good to get your perspective on the US. I am very glad you had a good experience.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    It was very interesting to read about how you came to stay the USA for an extended period. Your local customs tips provided great insight into the differences between the two cultures! Thank you for this very educational page!

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    Awesome! People can be very guarded in the city, but country folk are so much more open. I tend to catch city folk off guard when I look them in the eye and say Hi! They are often surprised, but will respond openly. I hope I make them smile. Lovely page!


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