International education is estimated to be a €1 billion sector for the Irish economy (IHE, 2012). Global mobility has given the opportunity for cultural exchanges, but has also caused cultural adjustment problems such as “cultural shock” or acculturative stress which is defined as the disorientation that often accompanies cross-cultural transitions (Berry, 1997).
Berry (1997; 2005; 2006) believes that the cultural distance between the two societies is of great importance in the study of the acculturation process. Inglehart and Welzel’s cultural map of the world represents countries within cultural zones (Inglehart & Osyserman, 2004).
The aim of this dissertation was to find out whether the international students coming from more culturally different countries suffer more acculturative stress than those coming from a country closer in culture to Ireland. The present research results suggest that Asian international students suffer higher levels of acculturative stress when compared with European international students.
Therefore the aim of this research was to find out whether there was a relationship between the level of self-reported English fluency and the levels of acculturative stress. It was found that higher levels of self-reported English language fluency will predict lower levels of acculturative stress. The present study adds empirical evidence to support Berry’s (1997) theoretical framework on acculturation. The study also supports Ingleharts’s framework on world cultural values differences (2004). Author keywords: Acculturative stress, English proficiency, cultural distance