Interview with a Student from Saudi Arabia
1. Why did you come here and from where?
I came from Saudi Arabia because I have always dreamt about going to the United States. There are many opportunities here. I want to become involved with the legal system, maybe, to become a lawyer or get involved in another way. I think that the US is the best place for own practice, because I can be my own boss and work for myself. The legal system and all the laws have shown me that the society is very law abiding, and the person’s rights are thought to be the highest thing possible.
2. What was your first experience with the new society as you arrived?
I knew about the stereotypes that some people have, so I thought that I would be treated differently, but when I arrived at the airport, everyone was very friendly. I had not known which way to go and when I asked, people gladly showed me the way.
3. Were you expecting the change and what have you known about the new culture previously?
Yes, I knew that the society will be much different. The American ways are well known in Saudi Arabia, so I knew that social life is very individual oriented. People have their rights and freedoms, and it is much easier going.
4. How have your perceptions changed now that you’ve been here?
A lot of my expectations have been confirmed. Of course, there are some things that are not perfect, but there are no places in the world that are perfect.
5. Have you been misunderstood because of cultural differences?
No, I have not experienced real discrimination or stereotypes because the United States are already very multicultural. People have learned to live together because everyone has the same goal, to make a happy life for themselves, make money, so that people’s children can be better off. There is a little predisposition from “the troublemakers” in the society, but this can be observed anywhere in the world. I think that the work market is also a little more favorable towards the general population.
6. How did you deal with a differential treatment?
When it was minimal negative behavior, I have tried not to notice it. It is the same with any negativity because people can sometimes be mean, so it is better to ignore it and understand that they are insecure and this is why they try to offend others.
7. Have you lost any of your original culture and how did you deal with the influence of the new culture?
I try to remember my culture because I respect it and value my ancestors. It is important to remember your roots because it is a part of life and what makes a person. The new culture is very influential because it is based on freedom, but I manage to keep a balance between both, so that I can get the better of the two societies.
8. What is the biggest difficulty or barrier since being here?
In the beginning, language was somewhat of a problem because even though I knew English, some nuances of the language cannot be learned elsewhere. People in the United States use different pronunciation and grammar, which is simplified and not that formal, so it took some time to adjust to it.
9. Compare the US students to those in your home country. Compare higher education.
The education is a little different because in my home country, we were given a set of subjects to study. There is a program which is created for you, so a person has little choice. In the US, people are free to choose whatever subjects they want.
10. What do you think of the American identity or “the American life-style”?
Even though there is some bad fame, I find it very reassuring and supportive because if you have goals and determination, then you will succeed.
11. Where do you connect with other cultural members?
I talk to my friends and relatives over internet or using Skype, so I keep in touch with the language and culture. I have made many friends in the US who share my culture and views, so it is easy to stay close to my roots.
12. How would you raise your children?
I would try to give them a piece of both cultures, so that they could see the perspective and make their own choices. It is necessary to pay attention to both sides because it provides a chance to look at society from a different angle.
Overall, the interview has shown that the perspectives mostly fitting an international student relate to the culture and social norms. Every society has its specifics, and it takes time to get used to the new circumstances. The difference in the treatment is an important part in the assimilation and adaptation to the new culture, so it is critical to understand what the major criteria are. At the same time, it is important to interact with own culture because every individual and cultural society bring in their own unique change and modification to the American society. People are able to see the difference and take what is best from all societies. It changes the environment and makes all cultures into one, uniting people and countries. It is most beneficial for the social fabric because it makes people more understanding and tolerant of others. It affects the legal system because the laws and cases that were uncommon might offer a different perspective and add more comprehension to the local society.