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What do International Eyes See When They Open on U.S. Campuses?
3 min read
USA Today Educate recently wrote an interesting blog post about how overseas students see America, take a look - Classroom etiquette In general, students appreciate the openness of the classroom environment in the U.S. and find that professors’ helpful attitudes contrast with conventions in their own countries. “Here, they share their experience, they share their ideas, ” said Hla Hpone ‘Jack’ Myint, a Burmese freshman at Washington & Jefferson, explaining that teachers at home usually stick very closely to textbooks and expect students to stay quiet. “It is a sign of respect to stay silent, but here it is totally different. You have to speak up. They give you points for speaking up.” He also appreciates the range of available courses. “Right now I say I’m majoring in political science and government, but I’m taking German, I’m doing acting,” said Myint. “Have I mentioned English literature already?” Dress code Daniel Toro, a Colombian freshman at Princeton University, was surprised to see a student show up to class in pajamas and others arriving at parties in sweatpants and t-shirts. “People here have no problem with that,” he said. “In Colombia, people without exception would dress up. The way you dress and the way you present yourself shows some respect.” Others agreed. “The sweatpant culture. That doesn’t exist in other places,” said Isabel Khoo, an Australian senior at Brown University. She says she endured the usual mixups — the use of “thongs” instead of “flip flops,” for example — but what most stood out to her was the tendency to accumulate stuff, explaining that she knows people who have brought couches — and even their cats — to college. Part-A And as for socializing outside school hours… “I thought the American Pie version of things was an exaggeration,” said Blair Cameron, a senior from New Zealand now studying at Brown University, explaining that he was surprised to see that red Solo cups were indeed the norm. He was also shocked by the drinking culture, which is less casual and more extreme than he was accustomed to. Om-nom-nom “The notion I had of the States was propaganda. McDonalds and fat people,” said Toro, explaining that he found the reality on campus to be different. “People here are very athletic.” That said, some students expressed surprise at the size of American portions and the amount (and quality) of food in the dining halls. “I really like the food. I think I even gained some weight,” said Myint, laughing at references to the Freshman Fifteen. “But when I said this to a junior she laughed and said, ‘You say that now. You wait a semester.’” Smiling strangers Many students noticed how friendly people were on campus, but in some cases, it took a little acclimatizing to make that feel normal. “Everywhere, you see people saying, ‘Hi, how you doing,’ but in Burma we don’t really do that unless we know someone,” said Myint. “We don’t say, hey, how you doing. It’s just weird.”