8 Surprises International Students may face when first coming to the U.S.

8 Surprises International Students may face when first coming to the U.S.

The first days of living and studying in a new country can introduce cultural differences that might surprise even the most prepared students.  From classroom behaviors to campus life in the U.S., international students may be experiencing some surprises when first arriving in the U.S.

peerTransfer has identified a few tips to help prepare international students for adapting to life in the U.S.

Even though the United States is a big and diverse country, almost all Americans share some traits as part of a general culture that you should be aware of:

  • Cities: U.S. cities range from the more vibrant streets of Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston to the wide and country-like towns of Macon, Ga, Kansas, and Hanover, NH.  Remember that big cities in the U.S. aren’t necessarily of the same structure and feel than big cities in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.
  • Conversations: U.S. residents tend to be independent and practical. They are work-oriented and often busy. Conversation tends to be concise in parts of the US. Give and take (speaking and listening) is an important part of American conversation, and many Americans generally prefer to stop talking rather than argue.
  • Local accents: You may not understand the local accent right away. Regional accents vary greatly in the U.S. Give yourself time to get used to the local accent.
  • Humor: Humor and sarcasm are an integral part of American English. This should be interpreted as a sign of friendliness, not disrespect.
  • Equality: The concept of equality is an essential part of United States culture particularly across gender, but across class, and race as well.
  • Religion: Americans respect religious differences and do not have a nationally sponsored religion. Religious beliefs are considered a private matter and your religious beliefs and customs will be tolerated by 99.5% of the population.
  • Patriotism: You are likely to find Americans to be open and interested in you and your country. If you return this friendliness with interest in the United States and Americans you will quickly make friends. International students who insist upon always pointing out ways in which their home country is better might soon find themselves alone. Americans are proud of their country as are most individuals from all around the world.
  • Classroom etiquette: College students are expected to participate in class. Be prepared to ask questions, make comments and support your ideas, even if they differ from those of the professor.

Remember to keep an open mind and try to stay flexible, as your time abroad is going to be an amazing experience.


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