The four level of cultural awareness: suggested answers 


1. II or III  - I understand less that I thought I did. 

II is the better choice here, for by the time you are in III, you begin to understand more than you thought you did.

2. I - These people really aren't so different.

Phase I is the only choice here. If you were tempted to put IV, resist: someone in IV may understand foreigners very well and interact easily with them, but he/she knows quite well that these people are different.

3. III - There is a logic to how these people behave.

III is best here, for by now you are not only aware that these people are different (II) but you understand how they are different.

4. II or III - Living here is like walking on eggshells.

II is probably the best answer, for it is now beginning to dawn on you how easy it is to make mistakes. Someone in III might feel this way too, but by now you are starting to have more hope of figuring these people out and avoiding mistakes.

5. I -These people have no trouble understanding me.

You might have put IV here because you were thinking that a culturally sensitive foreigner would never do anything "foreign" in front of local people. Someone in IV, however, while finding it easy to understand the local people, would not assume that they would easily understand a foreigner.

6. III- It's possible to figure these people out if you work at it.

This is really the only choice here, for someone in II wouldn't necessarily know enough to be able to do this.

7. II or III - I wonder what they think of me.

Phase I does not apply here, for people in this phase think they know what local people think of them. IV is out too, because at this level people do know what the local people are thinking. In II you would start to wonder, and you could still be wondering in III as well, even as you were getting a grip on the culture.

8. I or IV - I know what they think of me.

Those in Phase I believe this mistakenly because they think they are just like local people, but people in IV do know what local people think of them.

9. I or IV - It's nice to be able to relax and be myself.

People in Phase I relax because they (wrongly) see nothing to worry about. People in IV can relax and be themselves because they have acquired enough of the local instincts to be able to trust their behavior.

10. II - I'll never figure these people out.

This can only be II, for by III you are beginning to figure out.

11. Why did people say this would be so difficult?

Because it is!

12. II or III - There's hope for me here.

In II you might not be so sure of this, but by III you're starting to see cultural patterns and beginning to have hope.


This exercise is designed to raise your consciousness about degrees of cultural competence. It can not only to help you gain the ability to determine when you might be on the adjustment curve, but also to assist you in determining where others might be as well. Self-awareness is always good, but Cultural Self-awareness is even better in terms of being a useful tool for learning about and functioning in international settings.   

To the extent to which you can objectively step back from time to time and assess your own progress, the more likely that you will be able to avoid the more common pitfalls of crossing cultural boundaries. As you eventually “get it culturally,” the day-to-day routine abroad will become easier and more productive. Above all, it might help you avoid the more unpleasant aspects of culture shock. Moving from  Level I (Unconscious Incompetence) to Levels II or III (Conscious Incompetence and Conscious Competence) over the course of a study abroad sojourn would be quite an accomplishment. We suggest you aim to do so.


  INSIGHT.. !! 

My understanding of the local culture and my ability to function effectively within it will evolve over time.