There are many groups on campus that celebrate the culture of different countries. Often, these groups can be of great use to you before you come to the U.S. If you connect with the International Student Union via social media, they may give you recommendations on items to bring, places to live, or answer questions you have about the U.S.
Do not be afraid to reach out to our office or student organizations-we only want to help you!
The ability to successfully interact with your peers and colleagues and supervisor can greatly impact your stay at NKU and enhance your professional and social networks. Please keep in mind that it is acceptable and even desirable in American culture to be proactive and introduce yourself in new social situations. Even with people with higher rank (e.g. professors, deans), it is perfectly acceptable to introduce yourself to him or her before he or she comes to you.
Communication among people is generally direct. People tend to say what they think. Direct eye contact is the norm, and it is taken as a sign of sincerity. Being assertive and standing up for one’s beliefs is also valued. However, the United States is not a culture of negotiating. When people say "no", they mean it and do not expect repeated requests or bargaining. Making many repeated efforts is seen negatively as badgering.
People in the United States are friendly, even to people they do not know well. Americans may strike up a conversation with a stranger on the bus or in a class. They may even share rather personal information with acquaintances they do not know well or ask personal questions. The questions reflect curiosity and interest, but they do not have to be answered. It is acceptable to change the subject politely. People may say, "let’s get together" without meaning anything specific. "How are you?" is often said as a greeting rather than as a question leading to conversation.
Despite a culture of friendliness, becoming a real friend takes time. Many Americans socialize with many people without being close to them. Socializing may be related to a shared interest—such as going to films or playing a sport together. Close relationships, with a stronger commitment and sharing of emotions, often develop over time from shared experiences and a growing sense of enjoying each other’s company and feeling confident about the other person
In many cultures, there is a great difference in status between students and professors. Students show their respect for their professors by listening quietly. They do not question what the professor says.
In the United States, it is quite acceptable for students to ask questions and to engage in discussions with the professor. In fact, professors view participation in class discussions as a sign of interest in the subject matter, and many will require your active participation as part of your overall grade in the class.
During the first class meeting, your professors will inform you of their office hours and when and how they can be reached. If you have a problem with the material presented in class, do not hesitate to see the professor during office hours and ask for help. Even if you do not have a problem, it is a good idea to drop in and talk to your professor. It gives both of you a chance to get to know each other. This may be particularly important if you have trouble understanding the professor, or he/she has trouble understanding you. Often, all it takes is a little time to get used to the other person’s style of speaking.
One thing you need to know about studying in the U.S. is that speaking and learning in English will be exhausting and frustrating, particularly in the beginning. Sometimes, international students have to spend much more time than their American counterparts to complete the same assignments. This can lead to stress and a feeling of inferiority.
The most important thing you can do to improve your level of success in the classroom is to improve your English skills. Your English will not improve if the only people you talk to outside the classroom speak your native language. You should try to speak to Americans whenever possible, watch television, listen to the radio, and read magazines in English. Interacting with U.S. culture will greatly enhance your ability to understand your colleagues and professors on an academic level.
NKU is a diverse campus, with students, faculty, and staff from many parts of the world. For people of any age and background, being in a new country combines a sense of excitement and anticipation with some fears, loneliness, and doubts--this is culture shock. People often have many questions about how things are done in their new surroundings.
If you are having a hard time adjusting to your new life at NKU, Health, Counseling, & Student Wellness (HCSW) provides a wide range of assistance to all students. No concern is too small or too large. They offer all types of services, including convenient drop-in sessions where you can talk informally to a counselor. If the counselors can’t be of service, they will help you find the right place for the information or assistance you need. In addition, all international students on NKU's insurance plan can utiliize My SSP, a 24/7 counseling and support service targeted specifically to international student concerns. The My SSP app can be downloaded on any mobile device.