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Resources and Programs

International Students & Programs Office (ISPO)

  • International Student Orientation and Welcome Programs: during orientation, the ISPO office partners with college coordinators for intentional programming in order to ease the acclimation process for incoming international students.
    • Available: Fall, Winter
  • For more information about programs hosted by the International Students & Programs Office (ISPO) and our Global Education partners, visit

International House (I-House)

  • International House (I-House): is a wonderfully vibrant on-campus community dedicated to the promotion of international awareness and intercultural understanding at UCSD and around the world! All UCSD students, faculty, staff and community friends are welcome to participate in our programs.
  • I-House Programs: Engaging and connecting people are what I-House is all about. Whether it’s through resident activities, campus-wide programs or community programs, there are a number of different ways you can get involved.
  • Student Organizations: I-House is home to several diverse and influential student organizations that collaborate to define and promote global citizenship. 

Friends of the International Center (FIC)

  • The Friends of the International Center (FIC)is a nonprofit organization that supports international education, fosters friendship, understanding, and cooperation within the international community, and creates a meeting place on the UC San Diego campus for people who share these aims.

Center for Student Involvement (CSI)

  • Center for Student Involvement (CSI)Through engagement in student organizations, campus wide events, Greek Life, communication and leadership programs, and community service initiatives; CSI provides a place of belonging and personal growth while supporting students to become experienced citizens and leaders.
  • Student Organizations: Leadership development, volunteer opportunities, and student organizations. Students can get involved in many ways, through joining one of over 600 student organizations or starting one on something they are passionate about.
    •  Available: Fall, Winter, Spring

Cross-Cultural Center (CCC)

  • The Cross-Cultural Center: is committed to supporting the needs of UCSD’s campus communities by creating a welcoming and holistic learning environment for everyone. Our vision at the Cross-Cultural Center is to empower UCSD to recognize, challenge, and take proactive approaches to diversity for campus as a whole.

Graduate Student Association (GSA)

  • The Graduate Student Association (GSA): exists to advocate the rights and interests of our diverse community, to provide for the enjoyment of social, cultural, and service-oriented events, and for the betterment of academic and non-academic life of all graduate and professional students at UC San Diego.
  • Available: Fall, Winter, Spring


U.S. Culture and Adjustment

U.S. Holidays

Major U.S. Holidays

The following legal holidays are days when many businesses, schools, and banks are closed. We hope in addition to these holidays, students and scholars will take the opportunity to learn about the holidays of other religions and cultures, and of course, teach others about their own!

New Year’s Day (January 01)
The celebration, marking the first day of the New Year, occurs at midnight on December 31st with a grand party, a lot of noise, and toasts.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 16)
Celebrate the birthday of this civil rights leader on the third Monday in January.

Presidents’ Day (February 20)
Observed on the third Monday in February, this holiday honors the birthdays of the first U.S. president, George Washington (February 22) and President Abraham Lincoln (February 12).

Cesar Chavez Day (March 31)
A California state holiday to honor the labor activism of Cesar Chavez on behalf of farm workers.

Memorial Day (May 29)
Commemorates U.S. soldiers who have died in wars. It is customary to decorate their graves with flowers or flags on this day.

Independence Day (July 04)
A day of parades, picnics, and fireworks, celebrating the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Labor Day (September 04)
Celebrated on the first Monday in September honoring the importance of labor organizations in America.

Veteran’s Day (November 11)
“Armistice Day” marking the treaty date ending World War I. This holiday honors veterans of all wars with parades and speeches.

Thanksgiving Day (November 23)
Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November with a huge traditional dinner consisting of a roasted stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin pie. The custom dates back to the pilgrims in 1621 that gave thanks for a bountiful harvest and the Native Americans who taught them agricultural cultivation.

Christmas (December 25)
A joyful holiday of gift-giving, family reunions, Santa Claus, feasting, and decorated Christmas trees based on a Christian tradition.

Cultural Adjustment

Culture Shock

Culture Shock is a term used to describe the anxiety that’s experienced by almost everyone who relocates to another culture for an extended period of time. Learning to cope with confusion with the language, frustration with different ways of doing things, isolation from your friends and family, and homesickness are a part of adapting to a new culture.

Please realize that you are not alone! Many international students coming to UC San Diego are feeling the same ups and downs that you are feeling. The best way to overcome the "down" times and to meet new friends is to get involved in activities that you normally would do in your own country.

Join a tennis class, sing in a chorus, give presentations about your country to community groups, or do whatever interests you. If you participated in an activity in your home country, try the same activity here, or do something completely different! A good place to start is to come to the International Center and join the many activities that we have designed for international visitors and their families.

Culture graph

Phases in adapting to a new culture

  • Excitement upon arrival, everything is new and wonderful.
  • Homesickness, frustration, fear and depression may occur.
  • Beginning to adjust, make friends, and participate in activities.
  • Difficulty returning to home country, reverse culture shock.

Cultural Hints

Obviously all Americans are not the same, but here are a few common American characteristics that you might find helpful to be aware of.

  • Americans often will say, “How are you?” “What’s up?” “How’s it going?” as a means to simply say “Hello”, and “I’ll call you” “See you” or “Later” as a means to simply say, “Good-bye.” These statements are typically not taken literally.
  • Americans are also very informal, and address each other by their first names from the time they meet, even with elders and people of authority.
  • Most Americans shower every morning, not in the evening like many other countries. Take this into account when scheduling bathroom arrangements with American roommates. Also, natural body odors are considered unpleasant and offensive, so deodorants, colognes and other toiletries are used often.
  • Breakfast and lunch are usually light meals and the main meal of the day is dinner (in the evening) usually eaten around 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm.
  • Dress is generally informal on campus. There is no one particular style adopted; however, it is important to keep in mind what is appropriate on campus and what is not.
  • As a rule, gifts are given to relatives and close friends. They are sometimes given to people with whom one has a casual but friendly relationship, such as a host or hostess, but it is not necessary or even common for gifts to be given to such people.
  • In a question of honesty versus politeness, honesty wins. For example if you are invited to an event and cannot/do not want to go, it is much better to refuse graciously and courteously than to accept an invitation and not go.
  • In the USA, great value is attached to time. Punctuality is considered an important attribute. You should try to arrive at the exact time specified for dinner, lunch, and especially appointments with professors, doctors, and other professionals.
  • Relationships between two people in the USA may be platonic friendships, or strong emotional and physical commitments, or something between the two extremes, regardless of gender. Whatever the nature of the relationship, the most important thing is to be open and honest about your feelings and intentions in order to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings or discomfort.
  • Actions involving sexual intimidation, sexual abuse, sexual assault, engaging in obscene behavior, or other unwelcome, intimidating, hostile, abusive, or offensive conduct of a sexual nature are strictly prohibited by law and are considered very serious matters in the USA and in the UC San Diego community.
  • Keep in mind that unspoken signals (body language) by others may not mean what you think. Various gestures are automatic and vary from culture to culture.