Adapting to Life in America

Starting school and a new life in a foreign country can be both exciting and challenging, and that is true for any student in any country.  Ironically enough, it can be especially true in a country like the United States where rules are not as clearly defined.  There is no state religion, thousands of political parties, and every race imaginable.  People also travel over much vaster areas just going to and from work each day, with no passports or security checks (except at the airports)!  There are challenges and things to consider, and a brief guide might help make those challenges easier to face.

For starters, America is a land of free speech, but you should be careful of what you say.  A contradiction?  Not really.  Racial statements and slurs are not accepted in public especially, not even by the rich and famous.  Also, Americans can and will criticize themselves, but if a foreigner does it can cause tempers to flare.  There is an old saying that one tolerates insults from family and close friends better than from strangers and that is true everywhere.  You will not be thrown in jail, but you may be ostracized, so think before you speak, especially as a foreign student.

Learn the language, it is important as a foreign student.  You cannot understand your teachers without a clear understanding of the language it which they are teaching.  It can also help avoid social mistakes, and students need social interactions as much as they need the classes, both are an education.  I once heard some one asking about buying a “faggot”, they wanted a cigarette, but got something else, a label that they did not want. As a foreign student, you will hopefully make American friends, ask them to help you with terms and language, even if yours is more grammatically correct!

Do make friends as a foreign student, both with Americans and other foreign students.  This is as important as classes and will make your life much easier.  They can help you avoid mistakes, learn customs for the region (America is one country, but bigger than all of Europe combined with a multitude of regional differences), and learn the foods!  Try the different foods, it will help you be better accepted!

It summary, do not be afraid to speak your mind, but watch how you say things, learn the language and make friends amongst both Americans and other foreign students.  Using these hints as a guide and you can flourish as a foreign student in America!