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what’s up with America?

20 September, 2012

Culture shock was the topic of last week’s orientation class, and the assigned homework was a six question worksheet asking students about their experiences and opinions of life in the US so far.

I spent half an hour this morning reading over all of the responses.  Assignments like this are always my favorite to go over, and I’m always surprised by what I learn.  A number of answers are things I expect, but my students are teaching me things about my newly adopted home too.  And overall, I’ve been very impressed by the thoughtful responses, attention to detail, and straight-up truth that some students opted to share.

Some of my favorites include:

What is your favorite thing about American culture so far?

“Communication.  When I communicate with Americans, they usually watch my eyes, smile at me, and react to my speech.”

“Every country has laws, but what I like bout the American culture is that American people follow the rules.”

“They have a dessert after a meal.  Even if it makes me gain weight, I like it.”

Have you made many American friends since your arrival?  Are they similar to your friends back home?

“Yes, I have.  We are not very close yet, but they are a little different.  People here is more distance, and may I say, cold.”

What is the biggest difference between your culture and the American culture?

“American’s stuff is bigger than ours.”

“I think Chinese education is one which focus on scores best.  Students may usually only good at taking exams.”

“That people can accept different races easily.  Because Japan it tends to be exclusive.”

“I think it’s the way of thinking.”

If you could change one thing about American culture, what would it be?  Why?

“When we meet, I need them to shake my hand because it is an important part of my culture.”

“Foods!!  I think that many American people are so fat because of their foods.  I think if they change their foods, they can get slim.”

“American culture have very strong sense of success.  I want to change because success is not the biggest thing in our life.”

“I like that Americans respect rules, but I don’t like that people sue others for everything.”

Is Murray State what you expected it to be?  Why or why not?

“Yeah.  A small, quiet town.  Friendly people.  Advanced equipment for studying.”

“Please turn on the air conditioning.”

Since you arrived here, have you experienced any uncomfortable situations because of cultural or language differences? 

“My roommate is a vegetarian.  One day, I didn’t ask her and then I gave her a plate of dumplings which was made of beef and pork.  It is really embarrassing.”

“Food is very different from our country.”

“In China, when we meet people, we greet each other by using ‘have you eaten breakfast/lunch/supper?’ but when I am here, they are always using ‘how are you doing?’  I’ve already adjusted myself to it, but I only use ‘good’ in response to them.”

“Some people persist in pleading their ignorance, but I don’t know if it is about the culture or the person.  I think sticking to their position is a part of the culture here.”

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