17 Things International Students Find Weird About America
We all know what college is like from the perspective of Americans. Parties, work, homework, parents. Ever wondered what is it like for international students?
Hello everyone. My name is Zarina. I am an international student.
As a regular reader of Buzzfeed listicles, I always wanted to see listicles about international students in the US of A. This list of complains/thoughts/questions is coming entirely from me.
A little bit about me: I recently graduated at 19 years old. I am from Kazakhstan. And no, I do not speak Chinese.
1. Almost all American college students have jobs during school.
Coming from a Central Asian country, this was bizarre to me at first. In my country, most university students do not have jobs. They live with their parents who also pay for their school. I was probably a junior when I realized that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY CLASSMATES has a job. Whether they work in retail, restaurants, some even have cool jobs you are supossed to get only after you graduate! Hard fact: international students are not allowed to work off-campus unless they are taking internships credits which they still pay for.
2. Americans LOVE to ask where you come from and expect you to explain where exactly is your country.
This was fine in the beginning. I would go into details about why I speak Russian but look Asian. At this point, I just tell them "Kazakhstan" and if they have any questions about the location, I politely ask them to google it. I cannot explain it when it is right in the middle of the damn map.
3. Why are Americans so chatty?
When I came to this country, this seems like a crazy town. On my to school I would have 3 people say hi to me and I would awkwardly smile. In my country, if you greet random people on streets, you are either drunk, high or want to steal some money.
4. Thanking their bus drivers
Another one about Americans chattiness. I was so weirded out when all people leaving the bus would thank bus drivers and wish them to "Have a good day/night". When I traveled back to my country, I was so used to thanking drivers that one time I say "Thank You" in English. I am pretty sure people thought it was a prank.
5. Not giving elderly people a sit on public transport.
In my country, if we see an elderly lady entering a bus, everyone over 5 and under 30 stand up to give them a sit. It is a rule, not a choice. If you don't, people will call you out. Considering that most elderly people use public transport, we would all just be standing there, not even thinking about sitting down when someone leaves.
6. Asking international students about our nicknames.
Some of us don't have nicknames. Honestly, I think most of us don't, we just use nicknames to make your lives easier. My name is Zarina. How hard is it to pronounce it?
7. Americans love to assume where you come from without asking
Not even Americans, but international students also love doing that. Being from Central Asia, nobody ever guesses it right. They just decide that I am Chinese and that is it. It's kinda funny when you are too Asian for Western people and too European for Eastern people.
In my school, we never learned how to write essays. When I came here and every single professor would talk about "Thesis Statement", I would be completely thrown out. It took me about 6 months to get used to writing essays in MLA, and then they changed it to APA.
9. Math is too easy
First two years in college I had 4.0 in all of my math classes. They were more of revisions of what I learned in 9,10th grades. I had a B at math in school, so I loved getting 4.0s.
This is one of the most important things. In my country, we are rarely allowed to use calculators. We would do everything by hand and in our minds. TI-84 became my best friend. I literally keep it on my nightstand.
11. American students only hang with other American students
Maybe I will change it more to "citizens hang with citizens". For some reason, most American students do not ever hang or even try being friends with international students. I think international students, especially freshmen are intimidated and just don't think we are good enough. Please, if you have an international student in your class, try being friends with them. We are actually pretty cool. And we know you are, so why not help each other?
12. If we are quiet, don't just assume that we didn't understand what you or someone else has said
We are not used to speaking in class. Sure, we do adapt easily, but it takes some time for us (at least me) to think. Even if you are sure we didn't understand you, don't just ask "Did you understand what I was talking about?". Try rephrasing your words. Honestly, Americans just come up with their own words or use words in different phrases thinking we know all the slang, especially your own slang. I think sometimes you guys don't know what you are saying either.
13. Complaining about tuition
This is all I can hear from American students. "Tuition is so expensive, I should have applied for FAFSA". Yes, it is expensive, but think about the fact that tuition for international students is almost always 3 times higher. Yes, we do not pay this money, but we do feel extremely bad about wasting so much money and not being able to make our own for ast least 4 years. I remember being deeply depressed about asking my mom for money all the time. Don't think we are rich just because we are here. We have very limited amount of scholarships, no FAFSA and it is almost impossible to take international student loans.
14. Cracking jokes in class
I love this one. There are always a few people in each class who always try being funny in class. Most jokes are stupid and not funny, but being so brave to say this in front of a class deserves some appreciation.
15. College sports
People are OBSESSED with college sports. This is an entire industry now, isn't it? I remember I saw on Gilmore Girls when they had some sort of camps on parking lots before and after games. I thought it was a joke. When I was passing by one game, half of the people using metro were wearing something violet and parking lot was filled with adults who seem to have graduated 30 years ago.
16. Calling the professor by their first name.
This is still weird for me. In my school, we would always call teachers by their first name and their father's name (a Russian thing). If I dared to call my teacher by her first name, I would expect myself to be executed.
17. Thinking that people from the same country know each other
In my first college, we had 11,000 students. I remember a few times people asking me if I know "name" who is also from Kazakhstan. I understand where it comes from, but don't assume that people from same countries hang with each other. Do you guys know every American in your college? I don't think so.