LIFE AS A STUDENT IN USA: WHAT NO ONE TELLS YOU!
Life as a Student in USAAs a prospective student to USA, you are happy, excited and just a little bit apprehensive about what life will be like in the country that will be your home for the next few years. You have pored over guidebooks, asked the uncle down the street who has a son living there and have browsed the university websites to get an idea of what life will be like over there, and though the guide books provide excellent information on the city you are living in, we are today going to provide tidbits of information that has slipped through the cracks of most guidebooks and which is guaranteed to make you feel like a seasoned local even before you get there.
- The footpaths or sidewalks there are wider than some of the streets here. And what is more, many of them even have an adjacent track for cyclists
- Almost everybody is out running or cycling no matter what the weather. If you head out from your dorm in the early hours you are likely to encounter groups of enthusiastic joggers or cyclists in full gear. In fact, you will find many of your professors and co-students preferring to take their cycles to class in favor of their cars.
- Pedestrians have right of way. This is one traffic rule that will take a little getting used to whether you are a pedestrian or a motorist. If you are driving a car, you should stop for every pedestrian coming your way. No whizzing past him, and asking him, Do you want to die? like we do in India, and if you are a pedestrian then try not to look too awestruck to see traffic coming to a standstill just for you
- Roads are generally emptier than Indian roads, and traffic is never bumper to bumper. In USA they follow the rule, where you need to be able to see the wheels of the car in front of you. So it may be a little surprising to see what seems like a vast distance between you and the car in front of you. Do not try to cover the distance unless you want to be pulled up for traffic violations
- Traffic jams are a rarity and honking is a strict no- no. People seldom honk on the streets except to protest against a mistake by another motorist that may jeopardize their own safety.
- Most people are addressed on first name basis regardless of age or seniority. A person who you just met, who is much elder to you would be Mr. and on getting to know him better you would probably be called to ask him by his first name and not uncle. No one is called uncle and aunty unless they are actual relations. Your professors too are never called as sir, but Professor
- You are greeted by friendly people everywhere, whether it is out on your morning run or at the coffee shop you will be pleasantly surprised to find that utter strangers will greet you with a warm smile and a polite nod of their heads
- It is customary to keep some distance between yourself and the person in front of you when waiting in a line. The Americans are generally very protective of their personal space and become uncomfortable if a stranger is standing too close. It is respectful of their customs to maintain an arm's length between yourself and the person in front of you
- Spring time is when the whole of USA congregates in droves on university grounds. Most universities in America have cherry trees which blossom in spring. The beauty of these trees in full blossom is an attraction that brings families and groups of people alike to the university grounds so that the campus begins to represent one large picnic.
- And finally, you are allowed to be you in USA. The USA is one of the places where you will be judged on your talents and merits alone and not on the basis of your ideology, your religion or any other matter