Walking in an international student's shoes

There are diverse angles of interpersonal communication throughout every country in the world. For example, I was speaking with my Facebook friend from India a couple days ago and when he needed to go, he responded with “Hey, please, I got to leave soon, lunch is waiting for me. Please, may I?” He actually ASKED me if he could leave the conversation, which I have never experienced from anybody before. Usually, American students directly say “I need to go. I’ll talk to you later. What was interesting is that this friend was so polite that he asked my permission to because he did not want to end the conversation so abruptly. In India, my friend also asks to sit with complete strangers for lunch to eat and talk, an idea that is completely foreign when compared to American standards. Another incident happened while I was training to work at the CLU Writing Center. Our professor assigned us to work with international students for a project on how to better communication. One of my ESL (English as a second language) group members from Taiwan and I talked for almost two hours in the classroom. All of a sudden, he said “I’m hungry” with a shy smile on his face rather than saying “I need to go eat. Bye”. He implicitly asked for my permission to leave. This proves that international students are very polite, which is why they may be shy to ask things directly. I am glad that I had these epiphanies regarding communication because I thought every human communicated in the same manner as I did, when in reality, that is absolutely not true. We need to learn that life is full of different cultural expectations and upbringings. We shouldn’t be surprised by these differences and should respect them instead.

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