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We found that Americans generally like having international students on campus, but that there is a separation when it comes to forming friendships between the two groups. But is this unique to the United States?
Our intrepid readers from around the world weighed in to share what relations are like between international and domestic students where THEY are, and it sounds like crossing the culture boundaries is tough no matter where you study. Here's what you had to say about forming friendships around the world (all quotes are posted as written).
Linza: I’m an American student in Finland, so I’m the other side of the coin. It’s very similar here; international programs are taught in English, and regular programs are taught in Finnish. Many Finnish students understand a lot of English, but don’t speak it very well, whereas many international students don’t know very much Finnish (at least, not enough to have a long conversation, and certainly not in their first year). It’s a major barrier. At least American students seem to have a more positive view.Jordan
Abdullah: I’m from Jordan – Middle east, I studied at the university and there was international students, but I wasn’t absolutely interested about knowing them or talking to them.
In my opinion it’s not normal to have friends from other countries or cultures, because as one of the students said ” It’s not easy to know others, especially if they don’t speak your language, or if they are from another culture”. But I think it will become easier and interesting if there is something pushing you toward knowing others and talking to them, for example: now because I learn English and I keen to speak to native speakers, I like to know foreigners and speak to them, why that changed, I think because I have goal in my mind, even it’s not easy sometimes.Taiwan
Wyatt: I did my college degree in Taiwan, and despite being the same race with Taiwanese, most international students from other Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore tend to stick with their own clique, which is a problem because the local students will be intimidated, at least that’s what the locals told me. To me, what International students need to do is to slightly alter their mindset, not exactly changing who you are but to be more open minded and accepting of a culture and society that is different and unique to where you are from. You learn from the good and take the one different from yours as a learning tool, or something like that.Australia
Kay: At the moment, pretty much reflects most of it in Australia as well, especially putting the effort in bridging the gap. Perhaps some of them are somewhat annoyed the fact most of the international students are coming over for migration/work purposes via the studying route.United States
Ali: Students in general do not bother to know about other students, because they are very busy with their education and they have their close friends. However, the percentage of national to international students is high and the countries are different, therefore every group is busy with their national friends who share common culture values. But there are students from both sides who can cross the culture borders to other cultures to explore and to create relations. ...
I was studying in different states. I am sure international students like Americans in general and respect them for many reasons. Americans are friendly, and they would like to know others sometimes. They may have wrong information about some international student cultures. Even among them, the Americans relations are not open to everyone. This is human nature, because they are busy with their lives, and daily work. Bu they got along a lot with others so easy. I remember one of my classmates when I was leaving to my country she came to say goodbye and brought with her the family photo and wrote on it this is your family in America. I call her sister because we are all brothers and sisters. At the top of all this Americans are not American government politics, while international students are not their national governments. This is what people try to distinguish when communicate with others.
Dan: As a worker, I can say that what the students say in the video mirrors what happens in a worplace environment. In today’s globilized world, we have guys coming here seeking a job from everywhere. So, I kind of understand you guys.On our Facebook page, Sophia weighed in with her advice about who needs to change to make friendships more common:
"In my view, international students come to a country, so they become a part of this country and this culture. I agree that in a new cultural environment, a person needs to preserve their own culture, not make it lost. However, there's a famous quote "when in Rome, act like Roman*." I mean the international students should learn the way people there living and acting so that they wouldn't feel excluded in some circumstances."
Have you had a different experience where you are? Share your stories in the comments!
*Editor's Note: The quote is typically translated into English as, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," and is almost always shortened to just, "When in Rome..." The meaning of the proverb is that one should try to blend into local customs or practices.