This article considers the popular concept of culture shock from three perspectives. The first is from the academic perspective, considering how researchers from different disciplines (anthropology, education, psychiatry, psychology, sociology) attempted to operationalise the concept and understand the process behind it. It represents 50 years of research using different methodologies and trying to answer different questions about the experience of travel for many reasons. This section of the article also considers issues concerned with the ‘overseas’ student; of which there are ever more travelling abroad to study. They can have serious culture shock difficulties. This is followed by a short section on migration in the South Pacific and the consequences for large and small countries, particularly that of sojourning, migration and refugees. The final section is a personal statement and reflection on culture shock and how I came to write two books and around a dozen papers on the topic.