To the teacher:

Introducing the cultural adjustment cycle in beginning to intermediate levels validates the students’ experience by providing a common language for discussing that experience as well as generating suggestions for successfully maneuvering through the different stages. While providing these benefits, it also presents challenges unique to these levels. The letters and readings have been re-written for these lower levels.



Introduction to Katy’s Letters

While the story you are about to read is built around Katy’s letters to her grandmother back in Korea, it is really not only Katy’s story. These letters tell the story of all the immigrants, refugees and students who have ever come to the U.S.A.


What is an immigrant?


What is a refugee?


Focus Activity


First, think about the month and week before you came to the United States. Do you remember your feelings? Write the name of five feelings before you came to the USA.


I felt_______________, and I felt_______________, and I felt_______________, and I felt_______________, and I felt_______________,


Now talk about your answers with your classmate.


How many of these vocabulary words do you know?

letter    happy     flower pot     to do exercise     surprised

to cry     roots     remember     airport     post man     post office   trip

to plant (verb)    modern      homesick       mistake

sad     disappointed     beautiful     sunlight      to mail      cafeteria



Katy: Republic of Korea


Katy sits in her room at the University in America. She closes her eyes and remembers her grandmother at the apartment in Seoul. Grandmother was planting a yellow flower, moving it from one pot to another. Grandmother said,

Granddaughter. When I was a young girl, I moved from Daejun to Seoul. I was like this flower moving from one pot to another. It will be the same for you in America. Remember your roots. Take care of yourself.



Then Katy remembers the airplane and the trip to the USA- the airport and everybody speaking English. She thinks about her new life in Houston – her room, the class, her teachers and English language…

She writes a letter to her grandmother in Seoul.



June 1

Dear Grandmother: I am a happy flower in America. I love it here. My teachers are wonderful and the USA is wonderful. I am surprised by many things – the cars, the people talk so fast, and they smile all the time! In my class I have classmates from other countries – Syria, Venezuela, Taiwan, Somalia. The city is very modern – not like Korea, which is very old. See grandmother, I am a strong flower and have no problems to come to the USA.

Your granddaughter




Time passes


Grandmother is sitting in Seoul by the window. The flower is a little bad.

Katy is sitting by the window. She is crying a little. She lifts up a pen to write.



July 1

Dear Grandmother.

Oh dear. Now I have “culture shock”. I am sad. I am homesick – I miss you and my friends and my family. I always look at my watch and see what time it is and think of you and mother and father at that moment. Even in class, I am thinking about Seoul. I feel like I have one foot in the USA and one foot in Korea. I live for letters from home. I can’t sleep well. I’m tired. I can’t study well. At home, I can study for 4 or 5 hours. Here I can only study for 1 or 2 hours. I don’t have enough money. I must learn many things – not just English – I must learn to cook, to wash clothes, to take the bus – a thousand things and I make so many mistakes. I don’t know if I can ever live here comfortable.

I miss you so much. Katy




Time passes


Grandmother is at the door when the postman comes. She says, “Do you have a letter for me from Katy?” The postman laughs and says, “Yes, here it is.” Grandmother reads the letter.



July 25


Dear Grandmother

I am much better now. I talk with my friends about my feelings and they feel the same as me. My friend says I must do exercise and try to make more friends. I understand a little more about the University and my classes. My English is getting better little by little. My friend says I need more time. I think she is right.

Your happier granddaughter Katy



Katy is sitting in her room. She writes another letter to her Grandmother.



August 4


 Dear Grandmother:

I am afraid I made a mistake to come to America. I was happy in Seoul. Now here, I don’t like the people very much. English is too hard and I want to speak only Korean and eat only Korean food and be only with Korean people. I don’t want to go to class or to speak English. I am sad about my life here.

Your disappointed granddaughter, Katy



Katy walks to the post office to mail the letter. An American student says, “Hello. Where is the cafeteria?”

Katy says, “It is there. I am going there. I will walk with you. Are you a new student?” The two girls walk to the cafeteria. They are smiling.



Time passes


September 1


 Dear Grandmother:

I am studying English again. I am happy that Mubeen, Buki, Josh, Mazen and I are in the same class again. We speak English much better now. They are good friends. I am in the USA, and I have my Korean roots. I am fine.

Respectfully, Katy


Time passes


In Seoul Grandmother reads the letter and puts it on the table beside the flowerpot. The flowers are big and beautiful and growing in the sunlight.





Do you agree with Katy? How is your adjustment the same or different with Katy?

What did people tell you before you and your family came to the United States?



A Summary of A Reading on the Cultural Adjustment Cycle


A family or a person goes from one country to another country to live. The new country is different, and the person learns about the new country. There are five different times for learning about the new country. Each of these times is called a “stage”. The first time is “Honeymoon”. In the honeymoon, the person is happy and excited about the new country. The second time is “Culture Shock”. In the culture shock, the person is sometimes sick, tired and homesick. The third time is “Better”. In the better time, the person knows a little more about the new country. The fourth time is “Isolation”. In isolation, the person is sometimes angry and disappointed. The fifth time is “Integration”. In integration, the person is more comfortable and learns to live in the new country.



Match the times with the description: Honeymoon, Culture Shock, Better, Isolation and Integration



1. The person knows a few things about the new country_____________.

2. The person is comfortable and continues to learn_________________

3. The person is very excited and happy________ 4. The person is sometimes angry and alone_____________

5. The person is sometimes sick and sad_____________





                                                                  Vocabulary  Exercise 


Match the vocabulary word to the correct definition. Put the letter in the blank next to the definition.


(a) remember (b) airport (c) post man (d) post office (e) trip (f) plant (g) modern (h) homesick (i) mistake (j) sad (k) disappointed (l) beautiful (m) sunlight (n) to mail (o) cafeteria


1. To go from one place to another place______

2. To not get what you want_______

3. Very pretty and nice________

4. Place to send letters_________

5. Think about the past time________

6. Person who gives you letters_______

7. Place to eat food_________

8. Not correct__________

9. To send letters__________

10. Not happy____________

11. Place for airplanes________

12. Not old______________

13. To miss family and friends__________

14. The light from the sun__________

15. To put a plant in the dirt