Level 1: Can read and write it at your own pace
Level 2: Can comfortably converse in a professional setting (little slang or cultural knowledge needed)
Level 3: Can comfortably converse in a social setting (slang, faster speech, less clarification)
Level 4: Can do all of the above passively, being able to pick up valuable information just by overhearing conversation without focused metal effort
Level 5: Ability to do all of the above in a noisy and hectic situation (like a party, sporting event, etc)
I bet you'd find that this 40% number is much different for students studying abroad in a country where their native language is common. My US friends who moved to the UK or Australia had no problem making friends.
For example, I've seen Indians with great English struggle a lot more to fit in and acclimate than French students with poor English but more shared cultural touchstones. As an American, I've found it to be much easier to make friends with Europeans than with students from non-Western cultures—even after controlling for English levels.
Edit: Another important factor (at least during collage) is the financial one. As a student from a poor country I had far less financial resources to afford a life style that American students enjoy. For example, I couldn't afford to go out or have a Car.
> but culturally I care less about American sports and music
Culturally I do not even understand this fascination with sports; we watch football (soccer) when there is some worldcup on and our country is playing but besides that the whole highschool quarterback and rooting for your teams all seems like wasted time to me. That might be cultural.
But I always turned that into a strength when making friends. If most people do something like watch sports or listen to music I do not like, I find the people that do not; those will be a niche. But I do not seek them out in obvious places with all likeminded people; when I go to AUS or US (and certainly when I was younger and looking for (girl)friends more) I go to sports bars and or clubs (where they will play music I do not like); in those places there will be 1-2 people like me that were dragged along or went along with their friends and who will be bored. Those end up talking with me and sometimes become good friends (two American ex girlfriends and many good friends, some I still do business with like that).
“I could care less about $THING” and “I couldn't care less about $THING” mean the same thing. Each means that the speaker does not care about $THING.
That being the case, guy conversations that start out, "Hey, did you see the game last night?" typically end in awkward silence when I say, "No."
Financially, not all Americans are rich or come from 2 income households. Alot of 18yr olds+ celebrate independence by moving out, taking a crappy local job at a fast food or retail and still, make American friends.
Introvertness isn't an issue, did you actually try? There are so many clubs that allow anyone to join and be friends. From meetup.com to local bookclubs.
But, we're also forgetting the big issue. Being American isn't like most countries in the world where you're born into a homogenous society. If you've lived more than a decade in the USA, and are a citizen, congratulations! You're a citizen, if any of your friends who aren't native born but also become naturalized, congratulations they're Americans!
Of course, I, know nothing of your background, so the above is all assumptions.
But, I felt like having to write this, as I wrap up spending 6 months in Japan.
I don't think you understand introvertedness.
You may not know but as a foreign student you are not allowed to work outside campus. Those jobs are also limited and hard to get.
I'm a white American guy. I don't give two shits about American sports (or any other sports for that matter). The very best you can do is talk me into watching hockey, maybe, but I haven't done that in years (and that's more of a Canadian sport anyway).
As for music, what kind? There is no "American music". People who like rap probably don't like country, and vice-versa, for example. Lots of Americans have zero interest in pop. When I was in college, I didn't like any of those three, only rock and metal. It did affect which friends I had at the time though. But rock and metal in particular aren't American, they're Western, as a lot of it comes from Europe and UK.
But yeah, it's kinda hard to keep a friend if you have nothing in common with them. And this doesn't just apply to relationships between people from different countries; even within the same country it makes it hard to find friends. Notice how divided rural and urban Americans are now, or how big the racial divide is between white and black people. And that's people who all grew up in America, speak the same language, etc. The cultural values are so different that they don't form many strong friendships across these boundaries.
I realized after a while to understand that what people really meant (in practice) was only that they were against the public display of insult, that one ought to be treated with a modicum of politeness. After the pleasantries, most folk just ignored you as if you didn't exist (or would talk behind your back). Some folk stood out and were just outright obnoxious for no reason.
Oddly, I developed a dislike for meeting the same non-Indian people twice. Meh. I wasn't annoyed because of these differences - I do believe they're biological - but I wish the discourse was more rooted in reality, which would've led to me to make better choices. I may not like Trump supporters, but hey I think they're atleast being honest you know. I now think of liberals as being hypocrites who use words to break apart communities and atomize people (more true of India than the US - but that's another story).
This is not to say that Americans aren't decent people - that they are - but there is a lot of pretension in that society. India is by comparison more than tolerable on that metric (if you keep away from the Westernized lot).
But from what I've seen, the various East Asian groups don't interact much. And each group speaks their own native language.
If it were the language barrier that was the issue then actually between Chinese and Japanese students while the spoken language is very different, they can sort of communicate between each other via writing.
The alcohol doesn't care what language you speak.
I am from Eastern Europe and did my degree in England. In the first year, I lived in university halls and out of 8 people in the flat (including me), 6 people were English. It was really really hard initially because I could understand only about half of what they were saying because of the accents, so it was hard to participate and much easier to just browse internet in my room.
However, I picked up the language really quickly since I was very often surrounded by native speakers so all was good at the end, just the initial couple of months were really tough.
By now I have probably spent 1000 hours learning (as part of a formal process), reading, listening, writing and speaking English. Probably a lot more, but let's go with that estimate. The actual language learning part was probably 20%, the rest was acquiring cultural references.
I'm trying to do the same for French, where I'm probably around level 2 or 3, and damn, I had forgotten how long it takes to "load the cart".
In my opinion, native speakers actually "become" "native" in a lesser degree because they were born to parents speaking that language and in a higher degree because they went through school in that language. All the basic lessons at school that everybody learns, all those initial social interactions, day in, day out, in the language they will use for the rest of the life.
It's a lot harder to squeeze those in later on, especially since the interlocutors become less and less accommodating.
After about 5 years, I realized that no matter how much vocabulary I learned, how perfect my grammar was, or how reduced my accent was -- I would never get the references to childhood cartoons, or any of another 1,000 things that came from growing up there. And it's actually crazy how much of casual conversation revolves around all these things.
And finally coming back to the States, it was all just so easy -- such a luxury to have a whole shared cultural history with people I'd hang out with, so many jokes to make, so much richness to the conversation. Social conversation felt "full" again.
That's what they never tell you when you learn a new language -- the language alone isn't enough.
Addition: the funny thing is, I have a lot of non-American friends who get all (or most) of the American cultural references, because so many of them revolve around TV/movies, and those are exported around the globe. So part of the American so-called "melting pot", I suspect, is helped by the worldwide ubiquity of our entertainment culture.
But. The most difficult move for me, by far, was the one that took us back home to the states. Suddenly, and for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people that all spoke a language I could understand. But I understood nothing of what they were saying! Every joke, every reference... I had no idea what anyone was talking about, and it was awful.
It took me many years to get to the point where I was able to at least recognise the references, even if I didn't experience the things referenced. I still feel like a foreigner most places I go.
I don't say this with any sadness or regret. I feel I gained more than I lost. I loved my childhood, and the lessons I learned. But some were more painful than others, and the lessons in the difference between linguistic and cultural fluency were some of the sharpest.
It is quite interesting, though. My biggest goal in learning Japanese was to make a friend who could not speak English. That's what led me down my path. I think without that focus, it would have been quite difficult. Also a bit strange that my first real Japanese friend was actually the person who became my wife. For the first 3 years, we spoke only Japanese, but now her English is so good that we hardly ever speak Japanese :-P
Source: my own life and similar anecdotes to yours.
Yes. This one of many reasons doing extensive reading of easy texts, children's stories and then later consuming TV and radio is so important. So many learners tend to take the approach of making a giant deck of flash cards or using an app like Duolingo and never get that much authentic input.
Going to school is probably the surest way to ensure that you do get all of the above, though it's not the only way. In the future, VR will give learners the quantity of practice and input that the world just doesn't have the patience to.
Most people love talking about themselves; as a foreigner, you are in some ways uniquely equipped to be a good listener. Wherever you go in the world, you'll find lonely people who are glad of the company.
Exactly as I was reading this sentence I heard someone use the idiom in English, "You're in the home stretch". A bit of a comical coincidence.
The people who are easiest to befriend are not those with the best language skills, they are those with the same cultural (or sometimes religious) values. At least that has been a very consistent, reliable way of modelling this phenomenon of human behaviour in my travels.
A very obvious example is that alcohol is a large part of Western, and now, some Eastern cultures; but people whose religion and culture strictly abhores it will have a harder time being happy among a group of Western friends.
Other values around sex and relationships are more subtle but of real importance.
Further, pushing the limits of what's PC to say, the fact is many cultures have a "we need to stick together," or "we stick together to preserve our culture" attitude that ends up also drawing boundaries around social circles based on race due to culture.
Very close relationships, such as romantic relationships, on the other hand quickly approach the point where language fluency becomes absolutely necessary. But friends to do activities with on the other hand--I love it when people are speaking other languages, have different reactions and place different significance on events. It adds spice to life and opens your eyes to see other ways of viewing things the same way you always had.
Alcohol was always big in Eastern cultures. It's just not dominated because it is always considered an old people thing, not what young people do.
Yes, well that's true, but now it's part of youth culture so I think we're actually in agreement on that. However, what I'm not sure about is South East Asia..? I believe in places such as the Phillipines, drinking culture was largely introduced by the West, but I'm not sure about that.
Now the question is whether the idea that drinking alcohol is a bad idea is a Western idea or an Eastern idea really depends on where you think the middle east is. But the far east has historically been quite keen on drinking.
Even though Buddhism does not really look at drinking as a great thing, I can't think of any officially Buddhist country that banned drinking. Japan was Buddhist for hundreds of years and even banned eating meat (though I don't think it was widely observed). But drinking remained a big part of the culture.
So my impression is quite the opposite of yours. SE Asia has historically been quite fond of drinking alcohol, but has seen prohibition relatively recently. That prohibition has mostly come out of the middle eastern cultures moving east, rather than the other way around.
American society is massively socially segregated by race and class, more so than in many other countries. I can form friendships with people with zero language in common, but it took me several years in the US to build a community of American friends despite being a native English speaker and a highly literate one at that.
Humans are complicated social creatures by nature. There will always be cliques, competitiveness, the us against them mentality, etc. It's who we are. It's what got us here.
There is a Christian majority country in the world that also has a ~15% Muslim minority, and it's not even particularly geographically confined. It's not US or Canada.
Curiously, it's also not a particularly inclusive country. Which just goes to show that multiculturalism doesn't necessarily translate to inclusiveness - it can also encourage silos.
Its Multiculturalism has always been about hadling Subjects who could become Citizens by Russifying.
The difference is how it is handled. Russia is structured as a federal republic, in which some constituent entities are explicitly designated as national republics. Those have their own official state language (in addition to Russian on the federal level), their own regional constitutions and laws etc.
But it also means that for the titular ethnicity, when they're outside of such a regional republic, they can face an attitude of "we don't do these things here, and if you really want to, you can go back home and do them there". In other words, different cultures are siloed rather than amalgamated.
This is oversimplified, because there's still plenty of amalgamation in practice - it's inevitable when people live and work and intermarry. But it's definitely very distinct from e.g. Canadian multiculturalism.
(Well, and possibly others - that's just the one that I know of, there may well be others.)
Not what I was saying at all. Perhaps you should reread my comment, or alternatively ignore it if my opinions upset you.
And they mostly DO know english and the local language (in fact that's a common reason to do it).
My thoughts about this are:
Erasmus students stay for a very limited time- 1 or two semesters and leave then. Forming real friendships take longer.
I have only so much time to meet and catch up with friends. Taking away from that time to invest in short term relations is a problem.
Erasmus student have other priorities than "natives". First is partying, second is partying and maybe third is university. From my experience regular students do not have the time to go out partying that much resulting in different peer groups.
I am from Nigeria, where English is the National language. I grew up visiting America as a child because my parents grew up there for some portion of their lives. So even with all my linguistic advantages I still bonded more with other International students faster and better than I did with Americans (regardless of race).
I would say the issue I found was cultural, basic things like sense of humor differs. What a Nigerian finds funny is not always the same thing an American would find funny and vice versa.If you cannot laugh together, you have a problem. Same with etiquette, some things a Nigerian may do might be seen as rude to an American but a sign of love in Nigeria. The second issue I found is that Americans don't have a lot of curiosity beyond their own culture. A lot of Americans have the idea America is the best country in the world, so what could they learn from anyone else when they push the world forward, so there is a lack of interest to understand others perspectives and there is a gap.
I personally worked hard to have American friends and I have life long ones today both white,black, latino and Asian American friends but this did not come easy. This took about 10 years of open-mindedness and extroversion that was not always reciprocated.
Cultural norms, customs, and the fact that on many campuses, there are quite a number of foreigners, making it more difficult for the social scene to absorb.
US/UK and Australia are all basically the 'same culture' as far as people outside the Anglosphere is concerned.
While indeed similar, a story on that: a friend at a high-end consulting firm here in Australia told of a US colleague who was over for a 6-month secondment. At the end of the visit, he apparently said "I wish I had known at the start that the people making fun of me probably liked me, and the people being perfectly polite probably didn't..."
My spouse always said she had a problem that people thought she was being genuine when she was being sarcastic, and sarcastic when she was being genuine: she even got told off at work about it.
That's not really a cultural difference. It's just basic social skills in America too.
edit: combined two sentences into one.
Most of the international students I've interacted that pushed through this were really, really social to begin with.
There are ways to force interaction, but if the student doesn't understand how to learn or doesn't have the desire, then they'll never be able to comfortably speak with people. They don't have to be really social (it certainly helps), they just have to want it enough.
Hmm, this sounds exactly like me. And I'm a white American guy (obviously, English is my first and pretty much only language, unless you count the German I learned in high school where I don't even meet your level 1).
I'd say I'm at your level 4 with English. When there's too many people talking, I'm unable to discriminate. It's not quite as bad as it sounds, if the relative volumes are different enough I can (so in a bar if someone is talking into my ear and the other conversations are in the background, I can make it out though I'll ask for a lot of repeats), but my big problem is in the workplace, where people for some reason insist on carrying out multiple loud conversations in the same room, right next to each other, and seem to have no concept (unlike the bar-goers) that it's really really hard to follow one conversation when the other one is right next to you at the same volume.
Yet another reason I totally regret going into engineering and software, and wish I had gone into something else where I'd get an office.
I know many people that knew flawless conversational English before immigrating but they were utterly baffled by some cultural conventions and turns of phrase not covered in class.
us, uk and australia are identical cultures. us and india or us and china is not even comparable.
Its not just language, its common cultural memes that bond people.
now, speaking english with ease does make it easier to pick up on the differences. but it still takes effort to engage with people. i've seen people from other countries integrate easily because they were either very socially aware or simply made the effort, regardless if they spoke the local language with ease. this happens in countries and with people that aren't the UK, US, or Australia or from there.
sorry , Certainly not my intention. I am curious why you say this though.
English is not my native language. However, I went to a school that had a specific emphasis on English: we had 5 hours of it per week in the first three grades, gradually ramping up to 6 in middle school and 7 in high school, and adding English literature on top of that. We wrote numerous essays, listened to recordings of native speakers, and spent a lot of time talking and listening to each other.
Then I went to study in a college in a country where English is a native language. I could read and write easily - better than natives in many cases, in fact (I'll never forget a rant that our elderly ethics teacher gave to me in private about how, based on the essays she was grading, only people with non-Anglo names could spell "its" vs "it's" right consistently). I could also speak fast while remaining perfectly understandable, and showing only a very subtle, hard-to-identify accent - that's where those hours of listening to tapes and talking with other students to polish pronunciation really paid off.
But for the life of me, I couldn't understand half of what people were saying. It was either too fast, or it was in an accent or dialect that was too unfamiliar to parse easily, or it was too casual (shortening or outright dropping many things that are always there in writing); and often, all of these at once. I had to ask people to slow down and repeat things - made all the more confusing because I spoke at a much faster pace (as I was taught to) than what I could follow.
It took about two months for everything to really click to the point where I could follow any conversation, and a lot longer than that before it stopped being a conscious mental effort.
Follow the source link and you find that 40% have no close American friends, which is different from "friends on campus". I checked the source looking for a baseline (how many domestic students have no close friends) and discovered that it was specifically about international students making friends with Americans.
> "Nearly 40 percent of the survey respondents had no close American friends and would have liked more meaningful interaction with people born here"
This is a very different result - still important, but the corrected stat and the free-response listed in the source make clear that we're looking at a different question than simple loneliness.
edit: The HN headline has been updated, which is great news. Now if only Quartz could meet the same standards...
Besides, many are on short exchange programmes. How close friends can you really become during a 1-2 year exchange? How many of those 40% had just arrived on the last couple of months?
I don't think that's correct, at least outside small countries. I certainly didn't find it unusual when all my school friends went to different universities. Two others from my school were at the same place I was, but they weren't friends of mine.
My university was in London, and had a very large proportion of foreign students. Many of the Chinese students hung out together. The Europeans (including the British) and other westerners mixed together, divided more by interests and age than nationality. Some groups (South Asians, Japanese) mixed with some British students with similar ancestry.
I ran a social club for a couple of years. The students on short exchanges, like ERASMUS, seemed to make much more effort to join in with clubs, teams and societies, since they were only there for a few months.
As for socializing with people from your own country vs. locals and others, I observed two factors:
1) If you are from a big country, it's easier to stay with your own countrymen. If you are from Belgium or something, you have to find friends from other countries.
2) International students motivation tends to vary between adventure/experience and opportunity/academics. Those who are abroad for the experience are more motivated to get out and meet different people. This is largely orthogonal with introversion/extroversion. But, students from rich countries more often moved for the experience, as the opportunities were similar back home. Students from poorer countries are more often motivated to get a better education and future opportunities, and may have more pressure from home to focus on their studies.
But country boundaries are not the only cultural divisions, and national/international is not a simple dichotomy. Belgians in the US might hang out with other Western Europeans but continue to spurn Americans.
That is not a right comparison. The U.S is not Japan.
Also the study carefully avoids discussing the stats for the Americans so there's no useful comparison (intentionally?). Is that the same ratio? I wouldn't be shocked. I took some weekend/night classes and those folks are samurai with lives outside class and barely enough time for assignments and homework and existing social relationships, so in those classes I would not be surprised to see 90%-plus of students having no student friends at all. When I was finishing up my degree a couple decades ago I had a wife and kids and a house and a full time job and zero interest in going to a kegger with some kids almost young enough to be my own kids, and after a full days work and a four hour lab and having to go to work early the next morning there's no way I could stay awake for a kegger anyway.
I also took some specialty classes at a tech college and their students have nothing at all to do with each other socially as near as I can tell. A nineteen year old kid living in moms basement, a 40 year old retired disabled army vet living in a house, and a 30 year old single mom working three jobs and living in an apartment walk into a bar together sounds like the start of a joke but it was pretty accurate description of tech school. Socializing with classmates seems to be a purely 18-22 residential/dorm/greek thing. And thats still a lot of kids... but gotta be realistic, its maybe only 3/4 of total students, maybe even less.
I am so old that I know that inserting a 21 year old legal drinking age in the middle of the prime college socializing years of 18-22 must have quite an effect. That must be very weird for foreign kids from countries without drinking age hangups. What I have had a beer with my pizza for two years now back home what do you mean that I go to jail? What I am here in your country illegally and everyone thinks thats great and its illegal to kick me out but I want un cerveza after class and they act like I am felon? Crazy americans... crazy americans.
Sooooo true. It's become, for all intents and purposes, a series of parallel universes that just happen to occupy the same space.
How long were you at your last job? Let's say you spent 3 years and 2 months there. Let's make an assumption and say that your time there was a positive one for your colleagues, and that you left with no animosity and—specifically—no animosity about the timing or circumstances of your departure.
Now let's suppose, though, that you walked in on your first day knowing that you would end up spending 3 years and 2 months there, down to the date of your departure, and during introductions you let your colleagues (including management) know about the limit on your time there. Let's call this version of you You'.
The way this would play out is that You' could make the exact same moves as you in every situation, and yet will be given much fewer opportunities and find much smaller success, despite there being no difference between you and You', save for this small discrepancy. As a result, your colleagues and the company will end up getting much less value from You' than they get from you.
People are bad at maximizing the resources available to them.
* It was incredibly easy to meet other foreigners, and not necessarily westerners, far from that actually. I now have genuine friends on every continent.
* Since you're on the same boat, you can relate. Given how unique the work and life environment can be, it's nice to be able to talk with people who'll understand you.
* Making native friends isn't easy, even when you're making real efforts.
I don't have an unlimited amount of energy I can put into socializing, so after a short while I stopped trying too hard. Even the Korean friends I made before my move weren't too interested in hanging out once I lived there.
Koreans have a saying about their neighbors:
"The Chinese love you rudely. The Japanese hate you politely."
I, myself have fallen into the English foreigner trap. It's exhausting to make Japanese friends, that in the end you really don't get anywhere with, casually.
I've gravitated towards existing hobbies, and soon will enter a bekka. I still want to blame my non-existing Japanese for my lack of true Japanese friends.
Remember the U.S is a nation of immigrants.
He's discussing the same situation mentioned in the article, but in reverse.
While I think that's true, I still think the original point that OP made was valid: you're going from a culture that you're very very used to, into one that's radically different. I think that comparison is still valid in this context. Unless there's another layer to your statement that I'm not seeing...?
Contrast that to Canada, where the term we used was "mosaic" (when I was growing up in the 70s & 80s).
The problem with "melting pot" was that in melting everything becomes indistinct and bland, where as in a salad bowl, the pieces remain distinct but work together as a whole to make enhance the entire salad.
I live in Silicon Valley and am married to an immigrant, and live next door to a house where I don't believe everyone that lives in it speaks English. Meanwhile, a man that ran on a campaign on explicit xenophobia and implicit white nationalism is now president.
In my world, it's not. I mean a common language is just a pragmatic thing. After all, you're not going to move up the economic ladder without knowing the lingua franca. I certainly wouldn't expect to have the job I have now in say Korea, because I can't speak or read Korean.
My family has gone to Dia De Los Muertos events, and no one in our family has any ties to Mexico. At the same time, I grew up in the rural midwest where one of the biggest regional events was Fiesta Italiana, and there aren't any Italian immigrants left, and the people left with Italian surnames don't know anything more about Italy or Italian culture than I do.
Most people live in the cities, and deal with immigrants and foreign cultures on a daily basis. The people that live in the rural area don't, and they're the ones that elected him. So who says who's right?
His words and his choice of advisors speak for themselves.
When I was studying Chinese in PKU, it was similar. Part of the problem was that the university wasn't really setup to mix foreigners with Chinese students: we were studying at PKU, but using very different facilities. Of course, if you made an effort, you made friends, some of which I have today (incidentally, almost all of them went abroad to the USA as PKU undergrads tend to do).
As my Indian parents say, these white people just drink alcohol and have sex all day.
In the US, I didn't realize it would be even more difficult because 90% of the students in MS are foreigners in the college I attended. Anyway, I decided that the best way to make American friends was to be with them all day long. I joined a fraternity on campus.
This was not easy. Most fraternities never had a foreign student, except the one I was accepted in. Because my english was not great, I focused all my time on 1 fraternity to increase my chances of being accepted. I was the only foreigner in all fraternities this week.
It was not always easy, but it was worth it. I joined while doing my MS, all my brothers where freshmen. We had very different work load and about 4-year difference. But I did make friends with all of them. I spent Christmas with one of my friend's family (I didn't leave the US for winter break). It was a great experience.
I'm rather an introvert. But when you travel in a foreign country, you have to talk to strangers all the time. Expectations are also lower when you don't master the language fully. You have to be very direct and explicit in your communications.
That's a shame. The kitchens were the most social spaces at my university. I think taking hot food into rooms was forbidden -- in any case, few did so.
I remember giving my views on plans for new dorms at my university, which were planned to use small kitchens shared between 4-6 students. I, and many others, objected -- they were replacing buildings with large kitchens, shared with 20 or more students. Much better for meeting people and making friends. It opened after I'd graduated, but judging by the pictures, the kitchens are for about 12-14 people, possibly more :-)
In my limited experience I feel there's a real cultural mis-match with kids from other countries coming here to study. Most of the kids I met were from huge cities and the shock of being in a small college town was in many was too much for them. That and the greek system was overtly hostile to them.
On side a note it's humorous what many kids take back with them from their time in America. It's worth doing an image search of "American party" to see what I mean.
The best thing that happened to me was to get an internship in a company where my team was composed mostly of Americans. I learned how to talk slower and more importantly, slowly understood sarcasm as well. Perhaps most Americans don't realize just how much of a shared culture is needed for immigrants to understand before they can communicate effectively.
I was born here and went to a university with a large percentage of international students (the highest percentage in the US? At least at one point.). I'm extremely introverted and oddly found it easier to talk to international students than American ones. Maybe they could tell that I was as uncomfortable as they were.
> I can only imagine how hard it must be for Chinese/Korean etc. students.
In the experience of some of my friends, it took them 4+ years (they finished their undergrad and started grad school) before they started talking to non-Chinese/Korean students. Though it's possible the science/math kids aren't a representative sample.
I would also like to add to that: The fact that we have a culture. (That's often underplayed to seem "fair" to other cultures)
> Typical campus discourse is often a minefield for newcomers, said a Norwegian student. “I find that Americans are generally very politically correct, and as a European, I think I’m used to being blunter and saying things right out. ..."
Otherwise, in social situations, people who are sensitive towards it are holding others hostage to it. You're only a hostage if you allow it.
Americans expect you to show a lot more enthusiasm then Europeans and if you don't show it, they will consider you rude and act towards you accordingly. Every single question is "good question" - it seemed to be rude to say that some of them are not good questions even to third parties in social setting.
On political correctness: in my culture, I know maybe one person who would identify herself as feminist publicly. You are expected to dislike feminism even when you are pro-equality. It seems to be the opposite in American liberal campuses (tho radical feminism seems to be waaay more aggressive then anything I know in here). Moreover, what Americans consider "too revealing" seems "perfectly normal" to me. I have seen American boys react in surprising way toward girls that wore mini skirts that were short, but still within normal range to me.
So, if you want example of political correctness, people from here might consider it perfectly normal to blame feminity when woman does something stupid or just makes them angry - that definitely wont fly in many American groups. That does not necessary means the person who said it is sexist, I would even say actual sexist tend to be more careful over what they say in my experience. Nevertheless, American liberals would not accept such thing at all.
I am going to be descriptive here. Non-judgemental. But: that... is sexist. By definition. It perpetuates the idea that "being a woman" is a thing that can be blamed for an action. Continuing to talk in that way perpetuates sexism.
> You are expected to dislike feminism even when you are pro-equality.
Again, this is structural/cultural sexism. You might not want to hear that, and you might not think it's a problem, but that's what it is. So when you enter a place where the culture is not accepting of that sexism, I don't know why you should expect not to have backlash if you continue to act like that.
I mostly wanted to distinguish "saying those things as verbal salad" from "really assuming girls are like that and/or raising girls to be like that". Kind of like with the "killed him" thing - the person saying the words does not really think about killing. As in, the person saying it would treat me equally while different more polite person might not say it out of politeness, but will treat me like the stereotype. The latter kind exist and is the bigger threat to me.
I am not saying that our culture does not have elements of sexism in it.
I'm not even talking about making an assertion here; asking a question about these politics sparks huge responses in people.
I rarely find people on the conservative side of the political spectrum are actually interested in doing that, because they don't act like they think of gender non-conforming people as people. They might, but they certainly don't act that way. I'm gratified where I'm proven wrong, but such people are few and far between.
American here. Really? I agree about the first part (how much you earn), but not the second. Lots of people like to brag about how they scored a great bargain on something, or complain about how something cost too much. But it really depends on a lot of things: what it is, what your relationship to the other person is, etc. You wouldn't just ask some stranger on the street how much their phone costs, for instance.
But if I ask how much they paid for something, and it was not a bargain, will they feel bad? Like I'm mocking them for their poor haggling skills or something?
I don't have a lot of experience with Americans. It's just something I heard from my English teacher.
I wouldn't ask someone how much they paid for a car, for instance: it's a big-ticket item, and strangely enough it's still haggled over in this country even though most things are fixed-price. Same goes for a house. But something small, I might. Retail goods are usually about the same price everywhere, unless there was a sale or someone took advantage of some kind of promotion, so it's not like the price they likely paid is a big secret. If I want to know the price of the latest iPhone, I can look it up. So you're not going to be exposing anyone's poor haggling skills by asking how much they paid for a (normally) fixed-price item. But yeah, I wouldn't ask how much they paid for a house or car.
Funny enough, this is the second time I have stumbled across an expat noting the eccentricity of American humour. How it's hard to make friends because their jokes are .. different. I wonder wherein the difference lies.
Whoah. You just blew my mind. I didn't realize things like jokes and sarcasm could be a barrier for someone who technically understands otherwise understands English.
for example, in the first couple of years, a spanish (from spain) person is going to do a lot better than a russian.
Anyway, I was 6 months into a language course that was heavily populated by US-born Korean students who were taking it for the easy A... I needed a tutor to keep up so I reached out to the teacher who introduced me to a few Korean exchange students.
They lived in their own apartment, not the dorms. They cooked their own food, didn't go to the cafeterias. Fast forward a bit, my fraternity had a charity event and I invited a few of them... was a casual invite, said something like, "Hey we're doing this thing, tell your friends!"
A week later at the charity concert like 60 Korean exchange students showed up. Every single one of them was dressed in a tux or evening gown. Totally classed up the place. Had no idea there were that many exchange students until that night.
And they were all really appreciative of the invite. Basically said no one had invited them to any events on campus before... I met some new folks, knew just enough Korean at that point to ingratiate myself and get invited out drinking after the event... and quickly realized I was playing checkers at a chess tournament when it came to drinking with Koreans. Ha.
Made some friends out of the deal, but it wouldn't have happened without everyone going outside of their comfort zone a bit.
In every case, they mention sometime during the evening that its the first American home they have ever been inside. After years of school and job. Every, every case.
Americans, we can do something about this! Invite a newcomer coworker to join you for dinner! Its so simple.
We had two big bunches of foreign students, Chinese and US Americans. Americans organized a lot of parties, the Chinese were hard to engage with. We had a big international community (language exchange regular meetings, parties, movies, BBQs, etc.) But the general thing from the Chinese group was what seemed like shyness. Even when one managed to get them to join, they tended to leave early and barely interact (not for a lack of trying). There were exceptions of course, and I'm currently subletting my apartment (while in another country) to two Chinese students, one of whom turned out to be very talkative once he opened up. But for the majority I met it's really hard to get them to get them to open up. There is some cultural barrier that's very hard to break.
Of course this might be the same for other nationalities, but as those usually arrived here alone, they didn't have a group of countrymen to fall back to and I couldn't tell.
There were other kids who joined the school from other countries right around the same time as me (we all did ESL together), but they all spoke languages that were highly represented in the school. Over the years, it was incredibly noticeable to me how insular they ended up -- hanging out mostly with expat friends, speaking their native language on breaks, etc.
Meanwhile, I had to try and make American friends any way possible -- which for me was through our school's robotics club (and since I am typing this here, you can guess that the rest is history)
I completely understand the way immigrants rightfully treasure and celebrate their heritage. But I have always found it puzzling -- especially in college -- to see people from overseas mostly hanging out with their own.
I have heard far too many times how "cold" Americans are, how they aren't friendly to foreigners, etc. At least in my experience, that could not be further from the truth. What I HAVE observed is foreigners like myself failing to leave the safety of their known communities and fulling embracing the experience they supposedly came here for.
Honestly, international students are cliquey. Many of them that I talk to openly admit to cheating on their english proficiency exams universities require you to take before you can attend. Meshing with local students is nearly impossible if you don't understand the language proficiently.
I'd expect you'd see roughly the same numbers if you looked at American students in Chinese universities, or elsewhere. But we have to make this anti-American because its Quartz, and Trump is bad, right?
It might help if you understand why they're cliquey. Many of them are living away from home for the first time, so hanging out with familiar faces and having shared cultural references is comforting (though it sounds wrong). They may not be as proficient in English as they are in their native tongues, so they speak their own languages when they're with each other. And of course to an outsider, a group of people speaking a foreign language seems very forbidding and closed off. Believe me, they (mostly) don't want to be seen that way.
I think pretty much every "group" is cliquey. My own Masters class (about 20-25 people, 50-50 American/foreign) splintered into 2-3 disjoint groups almost immediately after the introductory mixer. I understood and spoke English fine. But not knowing any American pop culture (music, TV shows, sci-fi, games etc. and my own introversion, meant I didn't know then how to deal with people I didn't that have much in common with) meant that I was filtered out of the most likely "group" (students roughly my age). They may all have been speaking English but all the alien (to me) cultural references made it seem forbidding (who's Stephen Colbert? what's Arrested Development? why is it a faux pas to admit liking Coldplay and U2 and Nickelback?). I ended up hanging out with other students from my own country.
> I'd expect you'd see roughly the same numbers if you looked at American students in Chinese universities, or elsewhere
You're right. Most people struggle to flourish socially in foreign cultures; I think this is universally true.
> But we have to make this anti-American
I didn't see the article as anti-American at all. It was more "Isn't it unfortunate how these students are missing out?"
I personally blame myself for my own social isolation during my Masters. I should've tried harder.
I've noticed this at my college firsthand; I see groups or pairs of Chinese students speaking solely Chinese. Speaking in their native language isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly makes them less approachable.
So rather than be humiliated, they chose to just hang out with people who won't insult them.
That said, if the American students were really making fun of the accent of Chinese students in a mean way, I can only assume they themselves never tried speaking any kind of Chinese. It is insanely difficult to get to "understandable" in a tonal language if your native language is not tonal, let alone "without funny accent".
But these groups also tend to help each other out in cheating on actual assignments and tests, which doesn't sit well with the me.
 It's like doping in sports.
A friend of mine joined a frat and he said they had the same thing.
Since we're generalizing here, I'll say the reason for this is, honestly, American students are mean and like to make fun of our accents.
Not everything is political, dude.
It does not matter. Majority of foreigners, westerners or not, won't have real local friends in English speaking countries.
Even though you do acclimatize to the culture and language you might still not be fond of it. I lived in countries were it would have been easier than in others to interact with people, but in the end I wasn't able to because I either wasn't a fond drinker (commonplace in all english speaking countries) or I didn't enjoy being involved in mundane silly-office conversations during the smoke break.
Most of the fresh expats can't even realize what they are getting into when they move into another country. If you are deciding to do so and you come across this post, do it, go and check it out, but beware that your inner you will never completely mold to that place.
I guess it all depends on the home country and the American school, but I wonder how valuable an American undergrad degree is worth in their home countries?
I know in Japan it often isn't seen as worth it because in Japanese undergrad programs, the people you meet often are a major part of your network along with the people you went to high school and middle school. And these networks are essential to your career arc.
So, by going to school in the US, you lose out on these networks.
But, if your goal is to get a job at an international company where you speak English or get a job in the US, then I guess it is worth it.
I had the same experience in grad school, I only had "activity" partners, than what I would call close friendships with Americans. It always felt "distant". It's sadly true even today.
 I couldn't find the relevant article that discussed about this, specifically in the American context.
Also it never fails to amuse me that they'll be about one hiking group per half million people in a metro area and they all claim they're the "real group" the "fun group" the only "active group". Something to do with Dunbar's number you just can't have 1000 americans work together they have to make smaller tribes and pretend the other tribes don't exist. All a bunch of foolishness. Sometimes I think meetup.com is all an elaborate stunt by some grad student gathering anthropological data about Dunbars number.
I think the best the school could do is to make the students stay in dorms with shared rooms when they come to study. Roommates, in my anecdotal experience, are among the best channels to acquire friends. If the school doesn't have the policy in the first place, then perhaps there is little that anyone could do to help, if the students don't make it a priority.
Missing important data for contrast: How many non-foreign have no close friends on campus.
College can be a weird place. Personally I had a lot of people I hung out with for a semester or two, but nobody I liked enough to truly be friends with.
My point is: as a newbie in this country, I had to make the effort; if I didn't do that, I would not have made those friendships.
For me personally, I could easily have ended up in the 40%. I was not very social, and would have had problems making friends with anyone. As an Indian, I'd probably have welcomed Indian friends, just because I'd have felt less ill-at-ease with them. Luckily, my English was good, I loved playing sports, and some American students made an effort to make friends. That made all the difference. I really appreciate those classmates who made an effort to know a strange-looking, strange-talking kid. They made a massive positive difference in my life.
Also, I did some free tutoring. I probably wouldn't know anyone outside of Engineering, had I not done that.
Another large difference nowadays, I suspect, is that a critical mass of students of certain cultures has been reached. So it's perhaps difficult to break out of a default behaviour of hanging out with "your own kind". When a foreign student arrives in the US, the local <insert foreign-country here> students association welcomes them and helps set them up. Right there are laid the potential foundations of remaining in the comfort zone of fellow countrymen.
Before they left, he told my friend and I that he was doing this because he read a statistic showing that a huge percent of Indian-born workers have never been in an American's home, so he wanted to get his coworkers out of that statistic.
In hindsight, that act was the only decent thing that man has ever done (he is no longer on speaking terms with me, my friend, or virtually everyone else we know for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with his co-workers).
For the curious: I did end up having a much closer group of friends including roughly 50% American students later, though, after bonding over one of the most American experiences possible, a Spring break trip.
That being said, the cultural aspect can't be ignored. There's a reason that despite going to two very international schools, almost all of my close friends are European, American, or Australian.
First, I think there are two types of people who travel to a new place (this can be a different part of the country, or a foreign student to the USA): 1) the person who wants to try new things and enjoy where they are, or 2) the type of person who hates where they are and refuse to try anything new.
The latter type of foreign student will not make any American friends. They will only stick with their culture and friends of their culture. She has also said a lot of people feel very nervous speaking English, because they will they will get something wrong and get ridiculed for doing so.
As an American with foreigners in my classes, there are also people who speak their native language to other students who speak it. I empathize with the fact that it is easier for them, but by doing that, the effect that I get is the feeling of exclusion, so I cannot even attempt to try to befriend them. As an anecdote to that, I can say I have felt resentful when I have been the only American in a group of Taiwanese and they did not speak English at all when I was there, as the message I got is they don't want me in the conversation.
I hate to say, it is very intimidating, but if you want to befriend Americans while in the country, you HAVE to speak English as much as possible. I am, and I would like to think any others are very forgiving in the fact that they know English isn't your first language, and are happy to accommodate that. If you do not, most Americans will feel excluded and not even attempt to befriend you.
Note that English is used as a universal language in international settings, and that you are a native English speaker. It's somewhat easier for you since they would know a least a little bit of English, while you wouldn't know their language unless you have some level of proficiency.
Also, Americans generally have a culture of accommodation or assimilation, while people from other cultures may not. The social environment when the host population interacts among each other as peers is also different than when interacting with foreigners, as it requires a separate form of interaction that isn't the norm. This applies to both Americans and other nationalities.
There is no easy way. You have to separate yourself from your comfort zone. That includes others from your home country as well as other international students. Live with an American roommate, go to every (American) party you are invited to. Say no to every (non-American) party you are invited to. Find an American gf/bf or keep trying. Join volunteering activities (food drives, blood drives, salvation army etc) to meet locals.
In a couple of years, you would have made yourself deeply uncomfortable on many occasions, annoyed some people, but by now you'll be talking and walking like an American.
This applies in general to immigrants who tend to huddle together because it is the easier thing to do. That is why in most cases, cultural assimilation takes atleast a generation.
I think the reason was the hyper-competitiveness between students. It doesn't foster any sort of cooperation.
You hang out with Indians and they start talking about Cricket, a sport that is widely watched there, but also a sport that most likely you know nothing about. How can you partake in that conversation? you can, probably, but only at a basic level and you might not have a lot to add.
So, the same happens with American football, or baseball, or sports that are not widely followed elsewhere.
Those types of conversations marginalize foreigners, even if it's non intentional. Now, if you have empathy, you might prefer to talk about something else, with the purpose of being inclusive.
What about those of us Americans who don't give two shits about American football or baseball or other sports (including cricket)?
And am I "marginalizing" someone if I want to talk about D&D, or retro gaming, or astrophysics, or some obscure musical genre?
He also got to laugh hysterically as he saw me try to pronounce some greetings/messages in Cantonese to his father who would call from Hong Kong, so there was that benefit too.
If you'd like to read about another perspective to how international students feel after coming to the US, here's an opinion piece I wrote: http://www.dailynebraskan.com/opinion/agrawal-us-universitie...
If you'd like to read more about what it's like to be an international student making friends with domestic students: http://www.dailynebraskan.com/opinion/agrawal-making-friends...
Here's an article one of my colleagues wrote about making friends with international students as a domestic student: http://www.dailynebraskan.com/opinion/simon-making-friends-w...
There aren't too many American citizens in these colleges and I will not be surprised if these student constitute 50% of total F1s.
Further, students from some countries have the option of a critical mass of their compatriots to hang out with, which I'm sure is a tempting comfort to rely on. >30% and >15% of international students are from China and India respectively: http://www.iie.org/Services/Project-Atlas/United-States/Inte...
At some point sub-consciously I stopped trying and went into my comfort zone i.e. other Indian people who got my jokes, and where I didnt have to give cultural context before every life story I was telling. I do regret not having made friends from alternate cultures while I had the best opportunity i.e. in college.
Yeah, I think it's a big factor. I'm a white American and went to an American university, and in my later years (I transferred midway through to go to a better engineering school), all of my friends were non-American. Why didn't I have any American friends? Probably largely because I don't drink and don't care about sports. (I'm not a teetotaler, I just don't like alcohol much, and at most will drink a little wine, and even here I hate the dry ones. I also have a peculiar condition where it seems that alcohol has no effect on me; I can drink a couple glasses of wine and not feel anything. I don't want to try any more than that.)
I had a few American friends at my first university, but I met them because I lived on the same floor in the dorm as them. I never had the dorm experience in the second university. And they didn't drink either.
Dating American women has never gone all that great for me either. Now I'm dating an Asian woman, who, you guessed it, doesn't drink.
I came to the US in 2007 for my Undergrad from Dubai (Indian by Birth). I lived on a dorm floor with 40 people and only another Indian and I didn't actually talk to that guy much. Most of my friends are Americans including some of my closest - To be honest, the few Indian friends I have are people from work.
End of the day it comes down to your comfort zone. People who come to another country to get an "American degree" will stick to their comfort zone. For those of us who come to explore and understand the local culture, we're going to assimilate into the local culture (my kickball team calls me a coconut: Brown on the outside and white on the inside).
Do you want to stay a tourist or become a local?
Today my closest friends are the ones I made in college.
Homophily is a known social bias, and certainly affects people in their own country let alone a foreign one. I wonder how much of this is "America" per se, versus standard social forces that affect all populations.