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U.S. lifestyle compared to foreign countries

U.S lifestyle compared to foreign countries

U.S lifestyle compared to foreign countries

U.S lifestyle compared to foreign countries

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From Japan, to Iran, to Spain and Ukraine, students at Providence come from many places around the world. This enriches the school’s ethnic population with different cultures and values. With the current clash between xenophobia and globalization, it’s important to understand the various cultures that form this great melting pot that we call the United States. We interviewed the current international and exchange students at Providence about specific differences they had noticed between the U.S. and their home countries.


In the halls of Providence, it’s not unusual to hear students complain about homework or schedules and compare the school to the famous Scandinavian countries with their superior learning system. However, living in such a privileged country such as the U.S. it can be hard to remember that in a lot of ways students at Providence have it better than students in other countries.

With teaching styles, there are similarities in how teachers introduce students to the material. “Over there [in Iran], it’s like teachers talk to kids here: write these notes and go study,” said Kahve Hashemi, a freshman from Iran.

This sounds similar to how teachers and students handle education here at Providence. However, one of the benefits of being in the technological capital of the world is that students in the U.S. have the opportunity to experience more privileges than students in other countries. With so much technology available in the U.S. it’s easier to implement it into education. “One difference is that we don’t really do any experiments in classes like science,” said Hashemi.

Furthermore, some schools in foreign countries require more school days than our usual five-day week. “In Japan, most schools don’t do it [having school on the weekends] but some students are required to go to school on Saturday,” said foreign exchange student Masayuki Usuda from Japan.

Another thing that can be heard in the halls of Providence is the complaint of how competitive our school is and the unusual amount of attention that competitiveness is given. “In Spain our schools aren’t very competitive like here, and people really don’t mind [being better than the others]. But here you always find at least two people arguing like ‘I’m better than you,’ ” said Sara Fernández Beluche, an exchange student from Spain.

Dress code:

The dress code at Providence has become very controversial and many complain that it is not only unfair but sexist as well. Since the dress code inspections last year where teachers went into classrooms, made the girls stand up and pulled out some girls for their apparel, the debate over our school’s dress code situation heated up.

Because of this, we decided to ask our foreign students about how their schools in their home countries handle this situation.

“In Japan, we don’t have a dress code we have school uniforms,” said Usuda. “It’s a tie and a gray blazer. I prefer school uniforms because it’s easy to know what to wear every morning.”

So could school uniforms be the solution to the dress code issues here at Providence? Or is the dress code controversy more based around the fact that what some people consider acceptable clothing is seen as outrageous by the administration? We interviewed the foreign exchange students about this issue, including one that was dress coded in her first week in the U.S.

“In Ukraine we didn’t have a dress code but we tend to dress up for school. School is more formal, nobody really wears shorts or a tank top. As long as you wear something nice, you won’t get dress coded,” said Tania Petrushanko from Ukraine, “It was better in Ukraine because here it’s ridiculous. I was actually dress coded my first week here and I felt so bad because I didn’t know why or what was going on because what I was wearing was what I usually wore in Ukraine. They gave me these red shorts to wear that were like twice my size, and I had to wear them all day. I think we shouldn’t have a dress code here.”


One of the things that our foreign students found shocking when they came to the United States was how early they had to wake up for school. The school starting times have been debated by psychologists and physicians, protested by students and now noticed by students at Providence from other countries, but it’s often ignored by the school system.

“For me, after 10 years starting school at 9:00, here starting school at 7:00 for me I wanted to quit and go back to Ukraine. It just adds so much pressure,” said Petrushanko.

Awareness for the sensibility of students’ sleep cycle appears to be a trend across European nations, which apparently has led to a successful school system.

“One difference in school systems is that we don’t wake up so early.” said senior Fernández Beluche from Spain, “In Spain, I woke up at 7:30, and my school started around 8:50, so at the beginning in Providence I was so lost I didn’t even know when I’m supposed to have breakfast.”


Along with the time that school begins, another highly debated topic for students in the U.S. is the copious amount of homework assigned by teachers in every class. A further look into how these students balance homework and studying could reveal that there’s more beyond the surface of European students getting less homework.

“In Ukraine, I always did my homework in an hour or thirty minutes. There was more free time, but we also had to study harder,” Petrushanko said.

On the other hand, other European students empathized with students in the U.S. in the fact that the amount of homework assigned is too much, and there is not enough time given to complete it all. “I feel more stressed here because here you can find crazy teachers that give you a project that’s due in two days time and I don’t know how they expect us to do that,” said Fernández Beluche.

Life turning points:

Many of us look forward to big life events, such as getting a license at 16, voting at 18 and drinking at 21. Some people think these ages are too young, others think that these events and privileges can’t come soon enough, but what is it like in other countries? And what other things do people look forward to?

“In Iran, you have to be 18 years old to vote,” Hashemi said, which is the same voting age for the U.S. As we asked about more privileges that come with age, we were shocked by some of the answers. “Well, in Iran drinking is illegal, you’re not allowed to drink. Some people do, but in private. If someone sees you though, you’ll probably get caught, put in handcuffs, and you’re going to jail.”

There was also a big difference between Iran and the U.S. regarding military enlistment and service. “Over there, if you’re 16 or 17 you’re forced to go and be trained by the military for two years. It’s called Sarbâzi,” Hashemi said. “It’s not like over here in the U.S. Over there, you’re forced to enlist, and we are forced to actually be trained.”

Concerning other life milestones such as leaving for college or leaving home in general, we discovered that in other countries students don’t usually leave their home as fast as they do here in the U.S.

“Here kids leave their house when they graduate. Here kids are more mature and responsible. They have a job and drive a car, and they can basically live by themselves. Over here kids leave their homes very quickly,” said Petrushanko, “In Ukraine, parents take care of you, and when your parents are old, you take care of them.”


One of the other debated topics at Providence is the cafeteria food. Some say it’s delicious, but others would rather eat cardboard. We decided to get the opinions of foreign students with varying culinary backgrounds.

Here are their reviews:

“I prefer school food in Japan because I don’t like the school food here, it’s awful.” said Yutaro Iida, an exchange student from Japan.

“I don’t like pizza or hamburgers. Too much cheese, and I don’t like cheese,” said Piyathida Wongkhamrat, an exchange student from Thailand.

However, not all the comments were negative and some foreign students actually liked the food here. “School lunches are really good. Sometimes they’re not very healthy, but they’re really good,” said Fernández Beluche.

One of the foreign students did bring up the issue of the nutritional value of the food in the U.S. “I like food in Ukraine better because it’s good, and well, everybody put on weight when they came here,” said Petrushanko. “I don’t know why but every exchange student that I know put on weight when they got here.”

Adapting to the Language:

As any student who is taking a foreign language at Providence knows, it can be hard to learn a new language. The grammar, spelling, phonetics and expressions are different. English may seem easy to a native speaker, but we decided to get the opinions of some of our foreign students on what it was like to adapt to English.

“Sometimes it’s hard for me to express myself in English. Sometimes when I talk to people they’re like ‘what?’ and I just have to repeat myself, but I don’t mind. Sometimes you don’t find the word to say what you want, and it’s frustrating,” said Fernández Beluche. “When I spoke to a native speaker for the first time, I was thinking ‘man they’re probably laughing at me right now inside.’ ”

Something that fluent English speakers don’t usually take into account is the copious slang or idioms that are embedded within the language, such as words like “dawg” or “dope” or phrases like “Don’t throw them under the bus.”

“Some things that made it hard were the phrases like ‘We’re all on the same boat,’ because I heard it and I was like there’s no boat here,” said Petrushanko. “When you don’t know what these phrases mean, you don’t know what people are saying.”

However, something that some students in the U.S. don’t realize is that because the United States is such an influential country, other countries teach their students English within their basic curriculum so that in the future they’ll be able to interact with the U.S.

“Every school in Japan teaches English. You start from elementary school until you graduate high school, but I don’t think Japanese teachers are good at teaching English,” said Usuda.

As many have probably heard from their foreign language teachers, talking is often the best way to adapt to a new language. “Just talking with my host family helped me and not being scared of talking because as long as you talk you improve,” said Petrushanko.

With the ever-increasing diversity in the U.S. it’s important to know where the people that we interact with come from. Since the culture of the U.S. is so widespread, it’s interesting to find out what our international students have noticed is different from their home countries. It doesn’t take much to see the spectrum of the cultures around the world, just noticing the small things can make all the differences.

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U.S. lifestyle compared to foreign countries