International students discuss cultural differences

Zita Biro

For the spring semester, international students from all around the world can attend Missouri Southern. The number of international students is less this year due to Covid-19. It is difficult for the students to get permission to travel and study in the United States this year. Nonetheless, a few students could make it.   

Southern has exchange students from Spain, France, Hungary, South Korea, Virgin Islands and many more. We asked some students what differences they noticed between their home university and Southern, including what cultural shocks they had when they first arrived.  

Riah Jo, an international student majoring in psychology and business management from South Korea, talked about how she felt about the American culture and the differences between her home country. The biggest thing she was shocked about was the openness to sexuality.  

“In the United States, you could see a lot of students living in the dorms with their boyfriend or girlfriend. In Korea, many couples rarely live together before marriage but it’s increasing nowadays. If they do live together; they try to hide it from their parents and friends,” said Jo. 

Among the many differences between the two countries, the ability for people to be able to do what they want is a bigger issue.  

“In general, the difference between the United States and Korea is freedom. The United States is much freer than Korea. A few small examples of dorm rules in Korea are they have a curfew, no pets, no personal stove, friends are not allowed in dorms, etc. A big example is guns,” said Jo.  

 Jo said that in South Korea the people are expected to move at a more rapid pace than people in America.  

“People in the United States are more relaxed than Koreans. In my opinion, people here are not really interested in their health. Koreans are cautious of their health,” said Jo.  

Another international student, Patricia Lagoa majoring in law and business, from Spain also shared her thoughts about American culture.  

 The first thing she realized is that there are not that many restrictions with Covid-19 compared to Spain where people are more concerned.   

“For example, in most places of Spain restaurants are closed and it is forbidden to meet people you are not living with, as well as other strict mobility restrictions. They also have a curfew at  [11 p.m.]. Meanwhile, here it is possible to enter in a disco without even wearing a mask,” said Lagoa.  

Like Jo, Lagoa notices a big difference between her university and Southern.  

 “In America, professors are closer to students, in Spain it is normal not to know any student because classes are so much bigger there,” said Lagoa. “Moreover, in Spain, the common thing is having just one single final exam, however, there are a lot of exams and assignments every week in American universities.” 

 Another cultural shock that both students have had is the kindness and helpfulness of people. In other countries, people are not as open-minded as America. They have received a lot of help from the first day they arrived. It was surprising to both, but they said that they were thankful. 

There are a lot of new experiences for international students, because the American culture is very different from many other cultures. But international students view it as a new opportunity to meet other countries and cultures and being a part of it.