Greetings from around the world!
The following students are English language learners currently enrolled in the University of Connecticut American English Language Institute (UCAELI). For one collaborative project with the Daily Campus in their Focus on Writing course, they were posed the following prompt: “Share something that you’d like the UConn community to know about your country.” Some students decided to write about important cultural concepts, others about societal differences they’ve noticed since moving to the U.S., and even more about current events related to their countries.
Please note that we have made every effort to publish their writing in its original, unaltered form for the sake of authenticity. Although the students have revised their work, minor grammatical or lexical errors may remain. After all, learning a second language is a lifelong process! We hope you enjoy their writing and learn something new today. Questions and comments towards the whole group or to an individual piece may be directed to the course instructor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the biggest differences I have noticed between Brazil and the U.S.A. is how people greet each other. In general, Brazilians are much more open to physical contact than Americans, so when they meet someone it is normal to give a strong hug or a kiss on the cheeks. It is a social norm in Brazil to kiss the cheek or give a hug as a greeting and farewell, and not doing it or refusing to do it indicates antipathy, unless there is a good reason for not doing it such as having a cold or a contagious disease. This is almost a rule, even if you are just acquaintances.
Usually, women greet men and other women with a kiss on the cheek, while men greet other men with a strong handshake or more commonly a hug with pats on the back. In fact, when you arrive at a meeting or party you must greet everyone separately there, and if you miss someone you are being impolite. You must do the whole thing again when you are leaving.
In the U.S.A. usually people wave from a distance as a greeting, and only kiss someone’s cheeks or hug when they have some intimacy with the person. As a Brazilian, I feel confused when greeting or saying goodbye to acquaintances or friends here in America. Maybe I will get used to the American way, but indeed I miss the Brazilian warmth.
I have been living in the United States for more than four years, and in all this time I discovered a lot of differences between Peru and the United States. One of the principal differences is the uncomplicated way to obtain certain documents, e.g., identification cards (ID).
In Peru, you need to undergo two different processes: one is to obtain your ID and the other one is to obtain your driver’s license. But between each document has a complicated process to obtain it. For example, if you need a new ID, the first thing that you need to do is to make one payment (probably $15). Also, do not forget the large lines plus the lost time by paying that money because you only can pay at a specific bank (National Bank). Second, you need to take pictures; in this process, you can choose your favorite place to take your picture, but you need to pay again and need more time, too. After those two processes, you need to go to a specific office with your bank receipt and your pictures (you need two or three pictures). It is in this part of the process when you need to apply your tolerance, because during this time the bureaucracy says, “wait for your turn.” Probably from the beginning of the process until the document is obtained, you will have spent more than 15 days waiting. It is incredible how much time you can lose.
On the other hand, here in Connecticut you only need to go to the DMV and you can complete the entire process in less than two hours in only one office. Yes, the entire process. It is an enormous difference; the simplification to obtain your ID here is unbelievable. I think that in contrast to my home country, all of the processes to obtain different kinds of documents here are easy. Probably this simplification can help the people of Peru to reduce time and money, not only for the users, but also it can help the government reduce different procedures with less time and less money.
There are many different cultural differences between Japan and America. I would like to bring up three cultural differences with the U.S.
First, people can get a job after graduation in the U.S. In contrast, in Japan, people typically get a job when they are seniors. They go to the career fair to find a job when they are juniors. It is usually held in March, and a lot of companies set up their booths and they explain to job-seeking students about the details of their company. In addition, seminars are held there. For instance, topics include the way to put on appropriate make-up, the way to write an effective resume or a mock interview. Job-seeking students also can take various seminars at their universities. If they find some jobs that they are interested in, they can submit their resumes to go to an interview. However, they are first evaluated by the companies as to whether they can go to the interview. In fact, some Studnets can go there and others can’t. They do a few group interviews and a few individual interviews at a company and sometimes have to be absent from their university classes. Almost all job-seeking students get a job by the end of September.
Next, people have tattoos as fashion in the United States. Likewise, there are people who have tattoos as fashion in Japan. It is also often called irezumi. However, people generally don’t have a good image of it because of their image of gangsters with irezumi. Therefore, people who have tattoos or irezumi can’t go to the public hot spring facilities or the public pool facilities even if they were never gangsters and they have to hide them when they work. If they don’t hide them for work, their jobs will be limited. Some of my Japanese friends have a tattoo, but I don’t avoid them because I know they are really nice people.
Finally, when people attend a graduation ceremony, everyone wears gowns and hats of the same color in the U.S., whereas people usually wear hakama of different patterns and colors in Japan. A hakama is worn by both men and women on formal occasions. I also wore a hakama when I attended my graduation ceremony. We usually rent hakama, kimono, boots and hair accessories at kimono stores. We choose them from a lot of patterns and colors well in advance. I chose mine about one year before my graduation ceremony because if I was late to rent it, I might not be able to choose the one that I want to wear. On the day of the graduation ceremony, we go to the kimono store in the early morning. Hair stylists set our hair and staff at the kimono store help us get dressed in hakama. Hakama is one of the really nice Japanese clothes.
We have various cultural differences because we are raised in different places, and have different customs and histories. It is very interesting for me to know about other cultures. I think it is important to know about different cultures even if I don’t always have chances to interact with them in my life.