The US has a long tradition of welcoming people from other countries, and 5% of America’s students are international. Here are a few things to remember while you are settling in and making the University of Vermont your home.
1. American Values
Americans are known for their directness and honesty. They believe in solving problems by addressing them face-to-face. The US was built on the idea of equality, and this means Americans are happy to talk to each other openly and find solutions.
In the US, the values of diversity, inclusion and community are celebrated, so you'll find a warm welcome when you arrive.
2. Cultural Differences
Americans are generally friendly, relaxed and inclusive. However, depending on where in the world you come from, you may notice some cultural differences when you move to the US.
There are some topics of conversation that Americans may find too personal to speak about with people who are not family or close friends. It is best to avoid talking openly about religion, money or relationships, unless you are sure it is appropriate.
As a general rule, Americans value personal space. They are not used to being crammed in with lots of people.
Queuing is encouraged, and people may take offense if you do not.
Littering is disagreed with in the US. Do not throw garbage or cigarette butts on the floor.
Staring is considered rude in the US. Most Americans will feel uncomfortable with extended eye contact, unless you are having a conversation.
It is worth getting familiar with tipping rules in the US. Extra money is normally given (as well as the requested fee) for services such as taxis and hairstylists. Between 10 and 20% is the standard.
It is not unusual in the US to smile at strangers. This is considered polite, and should not be considered very personal.
The US is a big country, and different parts have very different cultures. Vermont, for example, values social justice and environmental sustainability.
3. Educational Differences
Plagiarism is taken very seriously in the US If you are at all confused about what is considered ‘cheating’, do not hesitate to ask a faculty member.
The US generally has an open and relaxed classroom culture. Students are expected to join in class discussions, ask and answer questions. Attendance and participation rates may affect your grades.
American universities have lots of resources and services available for students. Asking for help will not be seen as a sign of weakness.
4. Living in Halls
At UVM, there is no smoking anywhere on campus and no alcohol in the residence halls, even if you are 21 years old and can legally drink in the US.
Be aware of others. Try to keep noise to a minimum, especially at night when people are in bed. Respect your roommates and be tidy.
Get involved in your campus community. You will feel more comfortable in your new environment if you form relationships with those around you.
Look after yourself. Think about your work/life balance, eat well and exercise. Also make sure you register with a local doctor.
Be patient with yourself; it may take time to go through the process of adjusting to your new home.
There is no need to worry about moving to the US. Americans are welcoming to international students, and Burlington is a lovely place to live. If there is anything you are confused or unsure about, ask a member of staff at the International Study Center.