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Culture Shocks of an International Student

By Dani Naess Hellesund
Staff Writer

LIU Post is a community with culture and customs from all over the world, which is a source of both learning and culture shock for many of the international students on campus.

Shekofeh Gholamreza is a sophomore Business Administration major, with a Management minor. She is an international student from Gothenburg, Sweden. Gholamreza found that the U.S. would be a great place for her to study when she was visiting New York. She fell in love with the city, and decided to make the move in the fall 2013. “I felt like the U.S. is a great place to study business,” she said.

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There were a lot of new things she hadn’t experienced as a tourist, but things she would have to face in everyday life as someone who lives in the U.S. “People were different, mostly; I guess my biggest shock was when random people just came up and started to talk to me and were kind. Americans are more open, and strangers may initiate a conversation with you or compliment you,” Gholamreza said. “I guess in Sweden we mind our own business; we read our own paper and listen to music on the train, not minding other people,” she said.

Another big shock for Gholamreza was the American food habits. “There is a lot more processed food and fried food,” she said. This is not the case in Sweden, but she likes the availability of places to eat. Restaurants and cafes are more spread out here than in Sweden, and she likes that everything is available “around the corner.”

The uncertainty and excitement of leaving your home and travelling to a new country to study can be uncomfortable, according to Gholamreza. She found a big help in the International Student Services (ISS) on campus. ISS hosted international student orientation right before school resumed in fall 2013. At the ISS orientation, the international students got to know the campus and each other before the American students arrived. She found great comfort in knowing that there were other people in the same situation as she was. “We were able to help each other through the first tough weeks,” she said.

Another shock for Gholamreza was, “College life in general,” a challenge shared by both American and foreign students. Gholamreza’s best experience so far has been getting to know all the different people with all the different backgrounds, something easy to find on a campus with so many international students. She said that she has made several American friends by attending school clubs, such as Delta X, and playing intramural soccer. “By getting to know one or two Americans, you become friends with their friends, and your friendship circle starts to grow,” she said.

One important step in adapting to the American way of life has been Gholamreza’s American friends. “I have learned [so] much about their culture and language, and they have made my adaption to the culture a lot easier, and it has been a lovely experience,” she said.

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