Are you considering studying in the US or perhaps you are already in the US. This course will provide you with practical advice and an in-depth understanding of how to navigate both study and life in the US. This introductory session introduces each section of the course.
With the availability of American Movies and TV throughout the world, many international students feel that they already know American culture. Perhaps you have even vacationed in the US. You may be surprised about how much you have yet to learn about American culture. Culture is often more subtle and nuanced than we imagine.
Although reading is a helpful way to learn about American Culture. We can't learn about culture through books or a list of does and don'ts. In order to learn the culture, we must experience it. During this course, we will give you resources to process what you are experiencing.
We relate because we are all human. Throughout this course, we will be talking about the many differences between cultures. Before we dive into differences we want to make sure we affirm our commonalities.
During this course, we will make numerous generalizations about American culture and some about Indian culture. There is always a danger of stereotyping. It is our desire to speak to a very wide audience. If what we say doesn't fit your experience I want you to know that I believe you and that there are numerous exceptions to the generalities that we are describing.
Please download America Calling course notes for lectures 7 - 11 which include checklist and reflection questions. Lecture 7 is given by Cindy Peace who presents practical tips for booking your tickets
Values are an important part of life. When you arrive in the US, you will be faced with decisions about what values to keep and which ones to let go of. When we reflect on values before we leave, we are better able to make conscious decisions rather than drifting with the crowd.
When we understand why cultural confusion or misunderstandings occur, we are better able to overcome them and make adjustments. The culture tree model helps us discover why cultural incidents occur, process cultural incidents, and better adapt to American life.
Spend time reflecting on these two cultural situations. Why did the situation occur? When you are in a similar situation, how will you move beyond the misunderstanding? There is a downloadable resource for this lecture.
When we understand the historical events that have the shape a national culture we are better able to understand values expressed in everyday life. Historical context helps us understand why some issues are sensitive and highlight the need to avoid costly cultural mistakes.
This lecture is one person's take on the events that have shaped American culture and is presented in hopes of encouraging you to keep learning and studying about American culture as well as your own culture.
When we hold two values which compete in our minds and hearts it is harder to make decisions. When we are in a new culture and we may have a hard time understanding why someone would make a decision contrary to the ones that we prefer or think is obviously right. The confusion usually happens because we have different value preferences or can't understand the value system of the other culture.
American Individualism is reflected in many of our proverbs: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Learn to stand on your own two feet. Speak for yourself. Be true to yourself. In this session, we will explore the value of individualism in American society, how it works and how it may impact you. The Hobby Lobby Case by Wharton Knowledge: https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/hobby-lobby-case-religious-freedom-corporations-individual-rights/
Americans are very concerned with Equality as a value. Sometimes we don't live out that value in everyday life. In other words, our normal behavior doesn't always match with the value of equality. But at heart, we are very egalitarian. We take pride in our lack of hierarchy, rank, and status. If someone acts as if they are superior in any way to others, We will say things like "That promotion has gone to his head." or "Who does he think he is?" New York Times Columnist David Brooks on American Inequality: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/11/opinion/the-inequality-map.html
Anthropologist Edward T. Hall says that America is the most time-obsessed and time compartmentalized culture in the world. We break time down into small formal units of time – such as one minute, five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes, half an hour, and an hour – units that are meaningless in most other cultures. Understanding how time works in America and how it impacts our behaviors will help you adjust to life and study in the US. The Seven Balancing Acts of Professional Behavior in the U.S.A.: A Cultural Values Perspective https://www.grovewell.com/wp-content/uploads/Professional-behavior-in-the-USA-Grove-Hallowell-2002.pdf
You have finally arrived! You are in the US! This session will give practical advice for your first week. The Mega Bus - Used Frequently by American Students -- https://www.megabus.com/ The Grey Hound Bus - An Older American Bus Company - https://www.greyhound.com/en Amtrak The American Train System - More expensive than Indian Trains - https://www.amtrak.com/home Currency Exchange - A Good site for checking on the current rates: https://www.xe.com/
As you get into American life, you will experience numerous cultural behaviors and expressions, some of which you may misunderstand. At times you will also be misunderstood. This session will help you navigate life and avoid embarrassment or misunderstandings because you misinterpret others actions or you do something that others misinterpret.
A study at the Stanford University School of Business tracked a group of MBAs 10 years after they graduated. The result? Grade point averages had no bearing on their success -- but their ability to converse with others did. In this session, we will consider causes for communication to break down and give you practical ways to improve your communication. In this article, NY Times columnist Roger Cohen writes about the differences between American and UK English. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/opinion/roger-cohen-the-long-road-from-american-to-english.html
Communication is more than just the mechanical transfer of information. Culture plays a very significant role in communicating expectations and styles. In this session, we will discuss how culture impacts politeness, interruptions, conversation starters, humor, formality, apologies, and direct/indirect communication.
My friend Raj, who graduated from a top college and graduate school in India, went to the US to do his MBA. He found that Indians were much better at theoretical knowledge. They knew formulas inside out and could solve difficult math problems far better than the American Students. But American Students did much better with the case studies. They excelled at coming up with solutions for business problems. Much of this has to do with differences in Educational Systems. There are advantages to both systems. This session will help you prepare for those differences and help you make adjustments early and make the best of that first year. The American education style depends a great deal on Blooms Taxonomy https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/BloomsTaxonomy https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/ Abstract of Dr. Daljit Kaur's Research on Academic Adjustments of Indians Studying in the United States http://www.huichawaii.org/assets/kaur,-daljit---2015-ahse-huic.pdf Dr. Erin Myers on Educational Differences https://www.erinmeyer.com/tailor-your-presentation-to-fit-the-culture/
A key to a successful first year of study is in understanding the professor's expectations. Expectations are stated on the Syllabus, which is usually given during the first class of the semester. In this session, we will work through a syllabus so that you will learn how to interpret your professor's expectations.
Plagiarism is a very serious offense at the American University. Because of differences in educational systems, it is important to understand how plagiarism is understood in the US. This session explains plagiarism and includes a downloadable resource for further examination.
It is not uncommon to experience some homesickness or culture shock when you move across cultures. This session describes culture shock and gives practical suggestions to overcome it. Remember, when you do feel emotions that you never felt before you may be experiencing culture shock. It is normal, and you will get through it. Helpful Links: BBC Article on Homesickness http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140428-combat-expat-homesickness An Israeli Student's Experience with Culture Shock at Columbia Univesity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPfB6GIjM9Q
When you do encounter a problem, where do you go for support? There are numerous support structures available to you. Fellow Indian students may be your best resource, but don't fail to consider the variety of both formal and informal support structures available to you. Your university wants you to succeed and will provide help if you need it.
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