Experiences of International Students

When I came to America for the first time, I could not speak any English. I didn’t even know what the word “window” meant. I was staying in Orlando and attending a Christian school there. I had zero knowledge and experiences about America. So I was very afraid. Imagine going to a new place where you have no acquaintances and can not even speak any of their language. Anyone would be afraid and homesick if they were in this situation.

So when I wanted to make friends, I had to put a lot of effort in it. Fortunately, no one was discriminating against me too hard. I think this is because all different races of people were living around the city. Even my host mom was not originally from America. I experienced many things that I could not do if I was still in Korea, so I realized why many people think America is the country with the most liberty.

I like this American culture. Americans usually use “thanks”, and “sorry”. Actually, these two words are pretty awkward for me because we think that those words take away our pride. So some people say Koreans are kind of rude or mean, but I want you to know it is not on purpose. We just do not know how to say it.

There are several other things that make me feel uncomfortable. The area of America is really wide, so normally distances between buildings are so far apart. I was also surprised about tips, taxes, and shipping costs. I think that is pretty uncomfortable and inconvenient. Someone already paid for their things or food, and that cost should include taxes. If the price contained taxes or tips, we could know exactly how much we would pay.

In my subjective opinion, American people are nicer, more active, and dramatic. In Korea, we have so many rules. For example, Korean people have to be polite to others who are older than you. So when I meet people that are older, I should do a formal bow and be polite.

I also interviewed Yejin Choi (Korean international student), Yukako Teshirogi, and Tomoaki Sasaki (Japanese international students). They told me that most Asian girls say that American guys are more gentle. For example, they usually help women, like when girls cannot carry or lift something. I think that’s a pretty normal thing, but in Korea it’s not really natural. Guys just ignore them.

The Japanese international students told me about different life styles. In Japan, normally they don’t have houses as big as people do here, just like in Korea. My family used to live in an apartment, so we don’t have a basement, a big garden, many pets, etc. They told me about different things about school. They have school every Saturday. I was really surprised about that. They usually have assigned seats in class, and they only have classes with people in the same grades.

I hope this article helps you understand our different and particular behavior. We grew up in different environments and cultures, nothing better but just different. So when you meet people from another country, please consider this article.

One Comment on “Experiences of International Students”

  1. Soyeon, thank you for sharing something so personal. I learned something new. When I came to America I hated counting money because I didn’t know the names or values of the coins: quarter, dime, nickel, penny and couldn’t pay for anything. I could speak English so it was easier for me.

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