Studying in America brings culture shock, but it still has plenty of upside
Please post your answer on Blackboard by Sunday at 10 p.m. and 2 responses by Tuesday at 6 p.m. Please focus on advantages and disadvantages of both.”
That was one of my assignments from my Social Media Campaign class. When I first arrived here, I couldn’t imagine having just a few days to finish assignments. I honestly panicked.
My name is Ilham and I am with the Community College Initiative program. I am an international student from Indonesia, studying at Madison College for ten months. It will be a valuable experience for me, not only because everything is in English, but also because of the opportunity to learn new skills.
After two months in the Social Media program, I have found some surprising differences between here and home. For instance, Blackboard is not just a board. It is an online school system I first encountered during the Learning to Learn Camp. I consider this system to be comparable to a supermarket because it is a place where everything is available. It contains the syllabi, reading materials, grades, assignments, announcements, instructor contact information, discussion threads and other useful information relating specific courses.
Something else that’s new to me is having a student email address that can be accessed from the college website. I never thought I’d have one, but here I get one, and it can be used as a communication tool among instructors and friends.
Classes are typically formatted as lectures in Indonesia. Here, they’re more varied. Students don’t even have to be physically in class if they take their course online. It’s really cool because students take responsibility for choosing the type of class and schedule that suits them. Many students also work in addition to their studies, so having choices is a definite plus.
Computers are everywhere. I’m impressed that students here are so well supported by technologies for studying. They can even borrow laptops from campus libraries if they want. I can use computers in the computer lab, the library and even in the hallways of the school.
Something that shocked me at first was the behavior of American students. I was so taken aback when I observed them enjoying snacks while the instructor was explaining the lesson. I lost my concentration and couldn’t pay attention to the lecture. Instead, I kept asking myself: “How could this kind of behavior be possible? Why does the instructor here allow the students to do that? Isn’t it impolite? Why don’t they eat before the class begins?”
In addition, American students may speak their mind anytime they want during class. It is considered freedom of speech, but I cannot do that. My culture is to respect the teacher. Students may only ask something later, when discussion time is open.
Studying abroad is definitely really exciting. Feelings of culture shock are something that cannot be avoided. It’s going to happen, like it, or not. I have no idea what culture shock is going to happen tomorrow. Anybody want to guess?