Posted: 10 June, 2016
Once you become an overseas student in a US University, you are bound to experience a few cultural differences which will certainly need some time to adjust to. This usually happens among students, as the most shocking things are found on the campus and in class.
You’re big on American movies with college students. You believe that you have seen everything already – the movies taught you. But what you don’t know is that movies can’t catch the actual atmosphere of a college campus. They only show you what they want you to see, leaving out the specific details. If you are a student coming from anywhere outside America, here are some things you might find unusual.
You’ve seen the entire American Pie series and a bunch of other TV shows that concentrate around student life. Everything you see basically comes down to this: students in the US only care about partying and having fun, without actually caring about their grades. You’ll be surprised though to see how mature American students are in their thinking. They know exactly what they want from life, and they won’t let anyone tell them that they can’t achieve that goal.
You’re probably used to a professor that looks like they came out of a Suits episode, or a wise old man sporting a long Gandalf beard, looking minutes away from threatening “You shall not pass!” It will come as a surprise to you that many of the professors don’t look any different from your average student. Since it’s considered that students have already reached a certain stage of their maturity, they’re not considered to be anything below a teacher – human-wise.
You were probably expecting to see only American students at ever corner, since, well… it’s America. But what you did not realize is that just like you did, many other students also came from another country to study at a US college. The US is one of the most multicultural countries, and everyone wants to take a shot at the American dream – American or not. So don’t be surprised if you walk around on campus and see various students from multiple countries, drinking their coffee and reading from a textbook on a bench.
Remember how uptight you used to stay in class in your home country, afraid that the teacher will start yelling at you from their chair at the front desk and tell you to ‘show a bit of respect’? Well, you’ll find out that in American colleges, respect comes by treating the other as an equal. No matter if you are a student or a teacher, as long as you do your job properly and don’t disrupt the class, you can do whatever you want. Most student-teacher conversations in class feel like they’re simply discussions among friends. This is why it won’t be unusual if you see a teacher sitting on a desk while delivering a lecture, and at the same time, it will not be odd to see a student putting up their feet on a chair while listening to the lecture. As long as you don’t fall asleep in class and totally miss the professor’s point, you can basically stay however you want.
You’re probably used to hearing stuff like ‘I require you do this’ or ‘you have to do that’ from your professors. However, in a US college, things are a bit different. The mentality is that once you’ve reached college, you’re mature enough to know that if you want something done, you have to consider doing it yourself rather than letting people tell you what to do. This is why it might be hard to adjust to an indirect requirement from a professor that usually goes along the lines of ‘You may want to consider reading this book.’
Differences can be noticed everywhere. You’ll just need to muster the courage to take this huge step of going away to college in the States. You’ll get used to the rest.