Great American Independence

“Great American Independence…

As you may know, one of the hallmarks of U.S. culture is independence.

Here is some advice about that, written by non-U.S. students just like you!

In order to make friends, you must take the initiative to meet people. Because of the American value of independence, Americans will not always be looking out for you, or making sure that you are getting acquainted with other people. They assume you are taking care of yourself all right. If you don't ask for help, Americans will assume you don't need anything. So remember — ask for help when you need it!

Another point of advice: In some cultures, it's polite to refuse two or three times if someone offers something to you. But in the U.S., it is polite to answer "Yes, please" if you want what's being offered. Many interesting situations have come up when a non-U.S. student who was hungry or thirsty refused the offer of food or drink, think- ing this was polite behavior. But when no second or third offer was made, there was no chance to say yes.

Contrary to the stereotype of independence and individuality, most Americans are conformists and gain their identity by belonging to groups. You may notice that many students join groups in order to get acquainted but also in order to satisfy a need to belong. You may be surprised at how many students look alike on your campus, with similar hair styles and clothes.

Americans are sometimes difficult to figure out, so keep an open mind and get to know them as individuals. You'll be glad you did!”

—- from international student: “”

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