Exchange students face culture shock

Annamarie Rodriguez
Flapjack Chronicle

Flying across seas from ones home country to come to a new one. Leaving a familiar culture to adapt to several other new cultures. Forced to speak a new language in order communicate and survive. International students are pushed beyond their boundaries in order to adjust to a whole new way of living, school, and culture.

This whole new culture and life style worried 21-year-old, economics major, Poevmas Toeung.

“I feel like America is so big and my English was not good enough,” she said.

Toeung is from the capital city Phnom Peah in Cambodia and despite her nervous feelings she encouraged herself mentally for the experience she was about to amerce.

“I told myself even though I am scared I have to face my fears and just go for it,” she said.

Toeung applied to be an exchange student through the U.S. international exchange student program. Her friend convinced her to apply for the program and she got accepted. However Nyan San Kim did not voluntarily apply for this program and was pressured to apply by her mom.

“My mom forced me to apply,” 19-year-old, business administration major said. “But I thought about my future and how studying in the U.S. would be good for me.”

In order to be in the international exchange program there are some qualifications that the program looks for in an individual.

“The program looks for the brightest young leaders with good academics, and community service,” Emily Pierce, international advisor said. “Students who will become good leaders in the world.”

In order to adjust to the English language Toeung and Kim came over the summer to be apart of the international English language institution. This program helps international students prepare to learn the English language.

Kim, however, was culture shocked by our openness to sexual relationships.

“American movies that have a lot of sex do not relate to my country,” Kim said. “It is difficult to accept that culture.”

The first major difference that both Kim and Toeung saw in America was that people are friendlier and are helpful.

“Everyone here always says hi and what’s up,” Kim said. Whereas in both Berma and Cambodia they do not say a word to one another unless they know each other. And when they do greet each other they formally address one another.

“The way we greet each other is we put our palms together and bow to each other,” Toeung said. Even though the way Americans greet each other is different, the feelings of homesickness is a universal feeling that many students experience.

And being across seas makes this an even greater hurdle to overcome in school.

“”When I experience homesickness it’s so hard, but my American friends do not understand,” Toeung said. “Though they are far away from their parents they can see them whenever and it takes me two days to get home.”

There are several resources on campus that help international students with whatever they need. The center on campus for international programs offers knowledgeable answers for students seeking guidance.

“This center helps students with cultural adjustment, housing, immigration, anything they need we are here to help,” Pierce said.

Being in the United States Forced Toeung to break out of her shell and have more of a confident attitude.

“I am not talkative in my country, but here I can’t stop talking,” she said.

Both Toeung and Kim are appreciative of their short journey that they spent here in America. And although they were only able to live here for a semester they feel fortunate.

“Not every student gets this opportunity to come here, to America,” Kim said.

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