10 Surprises for International Students About the US

When American students study abroad, they often find their preconceived notions of the host culture are incorrect. They also discover new cultural traits that surprise them. So what do international students think about the United States when they come here to study? What shocks them, what is strange about this culture, and which stereotypes are reinforced?

A survey of international university students studying in the United States conducted using GoAbroad’s extensive social media followers resulted in some interesting observations!

  1. So Many Flags! "From the national anthem at sports events to flags on every block Americans seem to be very proud to show their nationalism.” - Katja from Germany
  2. Large Portions of Food! Super sized, free refills, big plates, mega everything!
  3. So Many Choices. Soup or salad? Decaf or half-caf? French fried or baked potato? How would you like that cooked?
  4. Where is Everyone? Many international students are shocked at the lack of people in the streets, hanging out outside or walking places. “I was afraid when we drove through the town and no one was on the street, it looked like a zombie apocalypse movie.” - Bihn from Vietnam
  5. Loud. “When you ride the Tube in London if you hear someone speaking loudly it is usually an American.” - Stephen from England
  6. Superficially Friendly. Greeting strangers on the street, clerks thanking customers, and random smiles are common here. “I used to answer the question ‘How are you?’ honestly then I realized it wasn’t really a question more like a greeting.” - Maria from Sweden
  7. Generous. “They tip big, they offer you a ride, an umbrella if it’s raining and a place to sleep if you are backpacking. Americans are among the most generous people in the world in my opinion.” - Jack from Australia
  8. Big. Big, tall, and fat. Americans are big. “I was most surprised at people riding motorized carts because they were so big in stores or at Disney Land. I suppose it is the diet that makes Americans so big.” - Chloe from France
  9. Confidence. “People here seem to be confident on every subject and in any setting whether they should be or not.” - Michael from Austria
  10. Passionate about Politics. Students are surprised at the emotional response conversations on politics often take. From guns to abortion to religion to taxes, Americans have strong positions on most topics and often emotional feelings on politics. “I was pressured into taking a position in a political conversation with an American guy and I regretted it immediately. It seems that political positions here are based on religion and family background much more than debating the merits of the issue.” - Samantha from the UK

Read more: GoAbroad.com

International Cultural Festival Highlights Campus Diversity


This Fall, International Students Represent 58 Countries at LU

The Bahamas
Cote d’Ivoire
El Salvador
South Korea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom

International Students Per Department, Fall 2014

  • Accounting & Business Law: 19
  • Art: 1 Biology: 6
  • General Studies: 9
  • Chemistry & Biochemistry: 123
  • Civil Engineering: 87
  • Communication: 6
  • Computer Science: 99
  • Counseling & Special Populations: 8
  • Chemical Engineering: 138
  • Deaf Studies & Deaf Education: 7
  • Electrical Engineering: 200
  • Economics & Finance: 8
  • Teacher Education: 5
  • Educational Leadership: 4
  • English & Modern Languages: 3
  • Family & Consumer Sciences: 7
  • Health & Kinesiology: 20
  • Industrial Engineering: 107
  • Information Systems & Analysis: 61
  • Nursing: 11
  • Management & Marketing: 9
  • Mathematics: 3
  • Mechanical Engineering: 136
  • Political Science: 6
  • Psychology: 6
  • Sociology, Social Work, & Criminal Justice: 3

Source: LU International Student Services

International Students Versus Foreign Students

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics’ (UIS) Global Education Digest (2006), an internationally mobile student has left his or her country, or territory of origin, and moved to another country or territory with the singular objective of studying. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in its Education at a Glance (2006) report supports this definition and makes an important distinction between “international students” and “foreign students” in defining terms for the cross-border-mobility section of its comparative dataset. Adopted in 2006, the OECD and UIS convention is to use the term “international student” when referring to students crossing borders for the specific purpose of studying and the term “foreign student” for non-citizens enrolled at an institution of education outside their home country, but who have not necessarily crossed a border to study (therefore not strictly mobile, and cause for an over-count of actual mobility figures). While the UIS and OECD accept and tabulate data from counties that count international students based on citizenship (foreign students) for their annual comparative education reports, they have made clear since 2006 (in collaboration with Eurostat) that international students are defined according to the following characteristics:

Permanent Residence: Students are considered internationally mobile if they are not permanent residents of the host country in which they pursue their studies.
Prior Education: Students are considered internationally mobile if they obtained the entry qualification to their current level of study in another country.

Read more: World Education News and Reviews

Global and International Studies Program Certificate

Lamar University’s Global and International Studies Program awards a "Certificate of Completion in Global and International Studies" to graduating students in any major who fulfill the stipulated academic criteria. The program is directed by Dr. Kenneth Rivers of the Department of English and Modern Languages (Phone: 880-8595). In line with Lamar’s mission statement, which says that the University shall provide an education with a "global" and "multicultural" context, this program enables students to certify that they have attained an international perspective during their undergraduate career.

The Certificate track makes use of the many courses at Lamar which have content that is both international (studying other nations and comparison of the US with other nations) and global (reacting towards cultural issues or scientific areas that transcend national borders). This track is open to any Lamar student in a B.A. or B.S. degree program, in any major, who has demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language and who goes on to complete the 12 hours of Certificate courses in accordance with the following requirements. Proficiency shall be demonstrated either by examination, such as the CLEP, verifying competence through the fourth semester study of a foreign language, or by higher education course work with a grade of C or higher through the 2312 language courses.

Qualified students receive an official certificate and a notation on their transcript from the Registrar.

Read more: Global Studies

International Student Population At Lamar, 2008-2014

Year International Enrollment Total LU Enrollment
2008 609 13,280
2009 696 13,992
2010 612 13,968
2011 501 14,021
2012 617 14,289
2013 685 14,035
2014 1,093 14,889

Source: Lamar University Dashboard

Poem on the United Nations Building

united nations building in new york city(Written by Persian (Iranian) poet Saadi, eight centuries ago)

The sons of Adam are limbs of each other,
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time affects one limb,
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If thou hast no sympathy for the troubles of others,
Thou art unworthy to be called by the name of a human.

Spotlight On: Nepal

srijana joshiNepal is famous for several things, including Mount Everest, the world's highest peak; having the world’s only non-quadrilateral national flag; and being the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, the sage onwhose teachings Buddhism was founded. Historically, Nepal has always been an independent and sovereign nation. Nepal is one of the few places in the world where you can find both the Bengal tiger and the Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and its largest municipality.

Srijana Joshi is a graduate student majoring in environmental engineering from Kathmandu, Nepal.

eshee awai

"Things that we miss about our home are the food, the festivals, being around family and friends, and the favorable weather. A myth about our country is that since Buddha was born in Nepal it must be the main religion when in fact, 85% of the population follows Hinduism, 9% follow Buddhism, and the other 6% follow various religions."

Eshee Awai is a graduate student earning a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Spotlight On: Italy

carlo vanz"Hi, I'm Carlo Vanz and I'm from Italy. Italy is a really nice country which stretches out for its majority out in the Mediterranean Sea. Its landscape is characterized by the presence of a lot of mountains and hills, with only a few big flat areas. In Italy, everything is closer than in Texas. All the cities are not far at all from each other. In fact, Italy is probably the country with the highest rate of villages per square kilometer.

A good thing about Italy is its diversity of cultures and traditions. If you were to travel through all Italy you might think you are crossing a few different countries as the landscapes, the people, the dialects, and the food are very different. Italian people might be hard to deal with sometimes, but they are really nice and friendly, especially in the south.

As I said before, you can find many different kinds of food in Italy and, in fact, that's one of the things we are proud of the most. Italian people take food extremely seriously and they love it so much you might get surprised of a meal lasting even hours as we like to eat and talk.

Another good thing about Italy is surely its history. A walk in one of its towns will bring you inevitably to see a lot of ancient monuments and buildings back from the Roman Empire until now."