Adjusting to the Culture

All students go through a period of adjusting to a new lifestyle and culture in the US. There are ways to deal with this period of culture shock that will help you become more comfortable in your new environment.

Take good care of yourself. Read a book or rent a movie in your home language, exercise and get plenty of rest. Write a letter or telephone home. Eat good food and do things you enjoy with friends. It may also help to talk about your feelings with other international students, as they are probably experiencing similar emotions. Remember that your international student advisor and the Counseling Center are also available to help.

Intl Students Mingling 230x170American Life
In general, life in the US is informal. Americans tend to dress casually and treat everyone equally, with little concern given to age, title or status. It is important to be aware of cultural differences and to take the opportunity to learn from your hosts, as they will learn from you.

When invited to a specific event (time, date, and place is stated), it is polite to respond with a definite answer. If you agree to attend and later find that you are unable to go, you will be expected to notify the host or hostess as soon as possible. If you plan to bring a guest, ask your host’s permission.

Americans expect each other to be on time for meetings. You should shake hands when introduced to both men and women. Look them in the eyes and smile when doing so. Greetings such as “How are you?” and “What’s up?” mean the same as “Hello.”

The American Classroom
Adjusting to the American educational system takes time. By learning what is expected of you, you will be better prepared to deal with cultural differences.

The American classroom is generally informal. Some professors may even ask you to call them by their first name. Classes are usually interactive; discussion is encouraged. Professors expect you to question their ideas and will often base a portion of your grade on class participation.

Individual achievements, rather than group accomplishments, are highly valued here. You will be expected to complete your work on time. Tests are usually written (rather than verbal), and are given throughout the term.

Unless otherwise stated by the instructor, it is expected that written essays contain your original work. If you reference other materials in an academic work, you must use a citation to note whose ideas you’re expressing. Ask your instructor about the proper methods for citing reference sources. Failure to utilize proper citations is called plagiarism. If you are caught cheating, you may be dismissed from your class or suspended from the university.