Four Fulbright scholars share lessons learned while studying in the United States

Going to the United States to study at a university or graduate program can make on aware of cultural differences even for the most wellprepared students. From classroom communication to school life, studying in American schools may have a slightly different experience from other countries.

 At a Fulbright Scholars meeting last month, U.S. News met and exchanged with four international students in the first year of graduate programs at universities across the United States. These students say that they are very pleased with the Fulbright program learning experience, a program dedicated to recruiting top students from around the world and each student has some tips for international students when coming to the US  whether it is a Fulbright scholarship or studying abroad.

Here are three things international students need to know in advance.

1.Differences between classes: an American education especially at a graduate level can be more interactive and practical than what you have experienced in other countries, which can shock new students without prior preparation.

“Being informed about the life of a student,” advised Diah Wihardini, a native Indonesian who is studying Education at University of California  Berkerly. “Here, you are expected to become an independent learner and have to equip yourself to be able to anticipate what will happen.”

 Work is not necessarily harder, she said, but it needs to be different. For example, students in the US may take a few courses but research needs to delve into learning materials more than they usually do in Indonesia.

In the classroom, students can also be expected to speak more than in their countries. It was also a surprise for Anne Berg, a student from Denmark who was also attending at UC  Berkeley to “perform” in class or be invited to dance after the professor’s work.

“Professors are very open and you can really talk to them,” she said.

But channels to expand communication also mean that, in the classroom, her lecturer requires “real discussion”, rather than mere lectures. To develop in an interactive classroom model, “you have to have some competitive advantage, or you will be defeated,” Berg said. “If you come to America, you have to become more competitive.”

2. City differences: from New York City’s bustling streets to the vast Kansas plains, the United States geographically cannot be succinctly described. This may become a surprise for international students who have not studied well the area they will soon call home, Anton Padin Deben, a student from Spain.

Some students “from big cities around the world come to the American countryside,” he stressed. “You think you will go to a very good school  this is true  but then a great shock.”

 Since coming here to study Engineering, Deben has spent time at both Texas A&M University  College Station and Colorado School of Mines, two very different schools in terms of location, geography and climate. .

Although he preferred studying at Texas A&M, Deben said that the school is located far away from the center which took him some time to adjust  until he met Friends who have cars that can take him out of the college town. It doesn’t matter what you will learn, “You have to do a lot of research before you do anything,” he advises.

 Researching the city you are going to will also help you get some idea of what you will pay for accommodation. A month of renting or a dinner near Berkeley will be more expensive for Indonesian students, Wihardini, than she says, compared to her friends, who study in remote areas.

3. Cultural barriers: growing up in Guatemala, Maria Jose Aldana personally studied the history of many external cultures, including (but not limited to) the United States. So she was surprised when many of her American classmates at the University of Denver did not share the same view of world knowledge.
“I think sometimes we study a lot about the United States and other countries – I thought that people should know more about Guatemala,” said the Economic Development student. “My expectations are higher.”
Ignorance can be used to blame some sensitive issues – though perhaps inadvertently – feeling she heard from Americans about her appearance and culture. Although it sometimes hurts, Saldana has learned how to be flexible and open to people who show an interest in her culture.
“The idea is to try to engage in a dialogue,” she said.
But cultural discomforts are not typical for all Fulbright scholars when interviewed. For Berg from Denmark, the United States has been “a very warm and welcoming culture,” she said.
This may be considered a final guide for students who are trying to decide whether studying in the United States is suitable for them: “Do it,” Berg said. “It’s just a great experience.”



Source: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2012/04/18/3-surprises-for-international-students-at-us-universities

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