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The W-Curve

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by

Reed T. Curtis

on 1 April 2016

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Transcript of The W-Curve

Navigating the Transition:
The W Curve

What is the W curve?
A way to describe how people experience culture shock.
The model describes the experience by breaking it down into distinct steps that most people take on their journey to accept a new situation/environment.
Can be used to describe any kind of transition (i.e. a new friendship, moving to a new location, new job/internship, etc.)
Honeymoon
Can start leading up to an experience beginning.
Although there can be some anxiety and nervousness about the impending change, the excitement is generally positive.
Everything is new, exciting and superficial.
Initial shortcomings of the experience are overlooked.
Cultural Shock
The “newness” of the experience begins to wear off.
The experience can become draining because there is so much to take in and absorb.
The reality of shortcomings and enormity of adjustment begins to set in.
The difference from the familiar can create a sense of isolation (i.e. “ I no longer belong to what I once did, but don’t yet have a space here”).
Initial Adjustment
Begin to fall into a routine.
Overcoming the initial shock can allow for a feeling of regaining control and normalcy.
Conflicts and challenges may still continue to come and go, but individuals now feel more in the swing of things.
Deeper issues of acceptance have not yet been addressed yet.
Mental Isolation
Although the physical environment has become more familiar, individuals will relapse into a sense of isolation as comparisons are made between their new culture and more familiar culture.
A feeling of being caught between two worlds.
Questions about decision to transition and worthiness begin to surface.
Acceptance & Integration
As an individual gains more history and time in the new culture, they begin to feel a true connection to the new environment.
A more balanced and realistic view of the environment emerges.
The older culture/environment becomes more distant and less familiar.
Identify that Stage!
Honeymoon
(August-September)
First year Students
Can start as soon as Orientation/signing up for housing and getting roommate assignments.
Nervous, but excited about college.
Not thinking about some of the challenges of UNCW, more focus on the new freedom, people and fun that awaits them.
Transfer Students
Have expectations based off of previous years experience.
Belief that this year is going to be better, because they are now older and wiser and can avoid the frustrations/shortcomings they experienced previous years.
Identify that Stage!
Identify that Stage!
Identify that Stage!
Disclaimers!
This model speaks in generalities, allowing for the reality that each person will experience transition in a unique way to them.
This presentation gives date ranges, but each person will progress at their own pace.
Additionally, this timeline does not account for students who will be starting mid-year. They will still undergo a transition process, just on an adjusted time table.
Culture Shock
(September-October)
Transfer Students
Classes are increasing in difficulty, and previous methods of studying and learning may not be sufficient.
Friendships from previous communities may be strained because they have lost geographic proximity.
Old routines and community and living norms that they had adjusted to the previous year are no longer applicable because they are in a new physical space with new people, and it may be exhausting to have to recreate these in the new community.
Continued ...
Initial Adjustment
(November-December)
First year Students
As initial adjustments are made, freshman experience an upswing as they have successfully manage many of the issues that came their way.
Fall into a routine as they gain confidence in their ability to handle the academic and social environment at UNCW
Transfer Students
Make adjustments to meet the new academic and social environment.
Often overcome culture shock and arrive at initial adjustment faster, compared to First-Year students, because many have already gone though the culture shock before and already had some of the tools to adapt.
Mental Isolation
(November)
First Year Students
When students go home for thanksgiving break, for an extended period of time, they begin to recognize the difference between their new culture at UNCW, and their more familiar culture at home.
Feel caught between the two
The new college environment is still not as comfortable as home used to be, and home is now not as familiar as it once was.
Homesickness and doubt about why they are attending UNCW will begin to surface as the reality that campus is not everything promised in the brochures and stories of orientation leaders comes to light.
Their roommate is not their best friend.
Not all professors are fun/helpful.
Not making GPA goals.
Continued ...
Transfer Students
Experience a growing pressure to determine a major and commit to a course of study.
Can still experience homesickness, as the distance between the familiar culture of home and their now established connection to the university continue to grow.
Acceptance & Integration
(After exams and Moving Forward)
First Year Students
As students become more involved in campus opportunities, build relationships, get to know some faculty/staff, they begin to feel a true connection to campus.
Begin to develop a more realistic and balanced view of campus.
Original home culture becomes somewhat foreign.
Begin to call campus “home”.
Transfer Students
Feel more validated in their decision to attend and connected to campus as they take more leadership roles on campus.
Original home culture can continue to become more foreign, but a better balanced understanding of how the two cultures can coexist for them begins to form.
Relationships with friends, faculty and staff on campus deepen.
Supporting the Honeymoon
First Year Students
Socials to help them meet new people and get to know other members of the community.
Programs that provide information to help them be oriented to campus and relevant resources.
Spirit Programming
Transfer Students
Socials to help them meet new people and get to know other members of the community.
Passively reminding students of resources available on campus (don’t assume that because they have been on campus a year that they are familiar with all resources)
Passing through Cultural Shock
First Year Students
Programs and Individual conversations that help them understand diversity issues and help them establish a healthy routine.
Checking-in on roommate relationships.
Programs
Study Skills
Relationship Building
Conflict Resolution
Campus Involvement Opportunities
Transfer Students
Programs
Study skills
Relationship Building
Building Leadership Skills
So you've made the initial adjustment
First Year Students
Programs
Scheduling for next semester
Finals Prep (i.e. Studying, Relaxing, etc.)
Closing socials that celebrate the adjustment and success of a first semester completed.
Upperclass Students
Programs
Finals Prep (i.e. Studying, Relaxing, etc.)
Career Services (preparing/applying for internships etc.)
Congrats! You've Integrated!
First Year Students
Programs
Leadership Development
Finals Prep (i.e. Studying, Relaxation, etc.)
Planning Classes for Next Semester
Balance
Transitioning to Summer Plans
Closing activity as the community prepares to disband.
UpperclassStudents
Programs
Leadership Development
Finals Prep (i.e. Studying, Relaxation, etc.)
Planning Classes for Next Semester
Balance
Transitioning to Summer Plans
Closing activity as the community prepares to disband.
** Start at 50 seconds **
Life could not be more wonderful!
happiness, bliss, sense of freedom, anxiety and excitement,
defining new boundaries, exploring new interests, developing new identities, and feeling mature enough to make adult decisions

This college business is not all that easy...
First Year Students
Newness of the college culture begins to wear off, the reality of all the adjustments they are going through sets in.
Making new friends can be fun, but draining.
The reality of the work, lack of clear guidelines for studying and living can be challenging.
Routine tasks that were taken for granted become problematic chores (i.e. laundry, eating, shopping).
Homesickness may increase, as it can be difficult to maintain old relationships while building new ones.
Full transcript