On the question and answer site Quora, Jose Carlos Marquez described the many ways Americans may react to international students. “Americans are very friendly in general,” he wrote, explained that forming deep friendships with American classmates can be difficult but that these friendships do develop with time. However, he noted, some Americans are easier to befriend than others, and some should be avoided altogether.
Here are the three categories of Americans Jose identified, and how he suggests approaching each group:
Category 1: Americans who are interested in exploring other cultures.
“They are the ones who you can befriend easily as an international student. They will be interested in learning from you as much, if not more, than you will be learning from them. Most of them will eventually invite you to their home and you will learn quite a lot about the local culture.”
“You will have to be tolerant when they do and say things that are shocking. I suggest approaching it as a learning experience. When they say things that are out of place or may sound racist, etc., you need to be able to put things into perspective and evaluate whether they are being friendly. Most of the time they are and their actions are just a little misguided.”
Category 2: Americans who don’t have any special interest in international students.
“They will be friendly with you only if you *click* with them. They will usually have a low tolerance for behaviors that are out of the “normal” ways. This means you will likely have to adapt quite a lot to the local culture and ways of doing things before you can make friends with them. They are people you will usually meet at school clubs, school activities, volunteering activities, etc. They will have very little interest in your culture, your country, etc.”
“They will treat you the way they treat any other American and will expect you to behave as one. This is in my experience the more numerous group of Americans.”
Category 3: Americans who are hostile towards foreigners
“There is also a minority of Americans who are unfriendly to internationals. They will say racist remarks -most of the time not openly. These are people you need to keep away from. They will try to bring you down. They may appear friendly publicly but they are usually not very good hiding their hate. You are better off keeping away from this kind of person and avoiding confrontation.”
“When you find these few bad apples, it is good to keep in mind that we also have plenty of unfriendly and even racist people in our own countries back home. So, it is expected at some point we will find these kind of people in America too. Encountering mean people is just part of the human experience.”
Do you agree with Jose’s categories? How would you suggest interacting with each of these groups? Share your stories in the comments or using the form below.