Adnan: Embracing cultural differences

Adnan Ali, an alumni of the 2013-2014 Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) from Pakistan who studied at Whatcom Community College, offers his take on the differences between the U.S. and Pakistani educational systems. He has good advice for the new NWCCI students on what they can expect on a U.S. college campus. You can also read Adnan’s post about his internship here

IMG_0276 Have you ever wondered why people from different cultures behave in certain ways? Have you ever sensed that there is a difference in values and life style? Studying at Whatcom Community College with many other international and American students helped me to clearly experience our cultural differences.

Firstly, students from my country should be open minded towards different kinds of cultures. WCC hosts students not only from the US, but from all over the world.  Each of these students belongs to cultures and backgrounds that are very different from ours. They speak different languages, dress differently and come from very dissimilar environments. For example, female students at Whatcom Community College wear dresses like skirts and leggings, which we do not see at universities in Pakistan. People are way more open and likely to talk and share their ideas with new people.

Secondly, the education system at WCC is very different from the colleges in Pakistan. We are very formal at our education institutions. However, at Whatcom Community College, students can dress and talk in an informal way. You can interact with the instructor during the lecture and a big surprise for us – you can address the instructor with his/her first name! In Pakistan we stand up when a teacher walks in the classroom as a courtesy and sign of respect. Additionally, it is considered disrespectful to walk in or out of the class without the permission of the lecturer. In contrast, here at WCC the regulations are not so strict.

IMG_0274Thirdly, at Whatcom Community College we have access to resources like student counseling, advising, free tutoring, and many more facilities which are not available in most of the colleges in Pakistan. For instance, students of color can attend an annual conference which educates them about their rights in the society so that they receive equal opportunities. Another example is that learning English as a second language is not easy. Initially many international students are confused to write or read in English when they move to WCC from their home country.  However, students can get help from the learning center which is totally free of cost. For instance, I took lessons with Sebastian, an English tutor who helped me improve my writing skills. We can also talk to a student counselor to get support if we are stressed or facing difficult times. Facilities like this are very helpful and we can use them to get help to move towards a good future.

In conclusion, WCC is a good place to study and accomplish our dreams.  It’s a place where students can achieve their goals because of the quality of education system and the good learning atmosphere. Teachers, advisors and tutors are very friendly and helpful at WCC, so we can understand and learn.

The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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