For USF students and college goers worldwide, studying abroad is an opportunity to jump on if you want to take a break from American college life. It’s a chance to experience another culture, meet new people, eat different food…the list goes on.
I have not had the opportunity to study abroad just yet, but having lived with an international roommate from China, I have had a cultural learning experience in my own home here in San Francisco. Getting to know Yue Li has opened my eyes to just how life-changing the experience of moving and going to school in another country really is. To my surprise, I’ve also broadened my perspective on my own American culture while living with an international student.
I decided to pick Yue’s brain to learn how she feels about differences between American and Chinese college culture. Yue hopes to divide her time between the U.S. and China after college, she thinks America is “amazing,” and came here to immerse herself in our culture.
Yue told me that international students tend to make friends mainly with fellow international students. Living with Yue has taught me the importance of getting to mingle with the international student population and of understanding another culture from someone in the same situation as you.
As Yue and I discussed differences in social life between China and America, she commented on how late we wake up here, and how she found it odd at first that students hang out in mixed gender groups—she told me that in school in China, girls would mainly hang out with other girls and guys in groups of guys. Yue also appreciated that on-campus living is only required for two years whereas in China, students are typically required to live in the dorms for four years.
Yue sees Friday as a day to relax instead of the kick-off to the weekend, so despite weekly invitations from my roommates and I to go out, she prefers a Friday night in. Also, Yue saw a noticeable change between the atmospheres of the Chinese and American college classroom. Here, she says, the students are given much more encouragement from the professors to participate in class and finds it interesting that the instructors are willing to learn from their students.
Maybe most surprisingly, I’ve learned that by living with someone from a different culture, I also saw my own culture through an entirely different pair of eyes. So if you want to gain a new perspective on American culture as well as a foreign one, from my experience I would highly suggest befriending, or even living with, an international student!