13 cultural differences between America and Overseas

13 cultural differences between America and Overseas

by Oumar Sacko

A lot of international students feel the culture shock when they come to the USA. Here is a list of some cultural differences that usually hit us international students.

Coming to the USA as an international student does not only mean to deal with the language barrier but also to adjust to the Culture which is sometimes rough for foreigners. In America there are certain things that are seen as taboo but these same things are common in foreign countries. When I came to the US, I was confronted to this change. It sure took me some time to adapt. Here is my subjective list of the things that I thought were really different.

  1. In some African countries, saying that a person is old is a sign of respect because by being old comes the wisdom but here in America it’s offending and disrespectful to refer to someone as old.
  2. In Africa I notice that many people do their daily activities without caring about the notion of time but here in America people stare at their watch all the time.
  3. In Africa there is no secret, everybody knows each other’s business because of the community-type way of living but here in America people are more private.
  4. In Africa men usually don’t talk about their feelings and emotions but in America people are more open about it.
  5. Overseas people don’t really smile at strangers unless they like that person but here in America, especially at JMU you get smiled at a lot!
  6. Overseas, especially in Africa (and I’ve heard from my friends, Asia) parents or professors are never wrong, even when they are, it is kept on the low and it’s really impolite to tell them they are wrong but here in America students argue with teachers sometimes and children argue with their parents.
  7. In Africa, speaking many languages is common due to the difference in ethnicity but in America speaking many languages makes one feel really special.
  8. In America most people spend much of their time working and working whereas in Africa people give more time to their family which they consider to be the most important pillar.
  9. Compared to Africa people here in America are more straight forward.
  10. In America eating outside is more common whereas in Africa people rarely eat meals outside
  11. In America, celebration in family is really big. Birthdays, anniversaries and other types of events are huge here.
  12. One thing that I was shocked with is that a lot of people when they become elderly they go to retirement homes. In Africa most a lot of people do not even know what retirement home is.
  13. As a want-to-be doctor I have to add an input about health. Here in America most people use modern medicine as a first resort for treatment whereas in Africa or Asia people usually use traditional medicine. Modern medicine is used as a fast remedy or when traditional medicine is ineffective.
Being an international student in the USA has been an eye-opener for me in so many ways!



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