You might remember our recent discussion about why international and American students often don’t mingle, sparked by a video of some very brave MSU students sharing their own opinions on the topic.
Blogger Anniken, who is from Norway and studying in the U.S., saw the video and had her own take on it, suggesting that the problem comes down to different styles of communication:
Thinking about that video though, from Michigan State University, a first key to success might be to learn how to small-talk. Small-talk is not something we do a bunch of in Norway, and so that has been a challenge for me.
It’s not the first time we’ve hard that the American custom of making small talk is one of the most difficult things to adjust to. Writer Elena, from Russia, picked up on the same thing:
I’ve noticed that Americans usually talk about weather and sports. I do not know why but such topics as politics, religion and money are avoided. American’s casual forms of communication (“How are you?”) is very unusual for Russian people as well. But, I very quickly got used to this style of communication. Judging by this style, Americans are friendly and informal, or “easy-going,” as they like to call themselves.
So how do you get past this cultural difference? Anniken links to a number of useful articles in her blog post, and offers this advice:
How to small-talk without awkwardness might be a challenge too, but my best advice would be to just take it in stride. Practice makes perfect!