September 2, 2013

WHY THE REPUBLIC WORKS:

The Most Surprising Things About America, According To An Indian International Student (GUS LUBIN, AUG. 29, 2013, Business Insider)

Aniruddh Chaturvedi came from Mumbai to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn., where he is majoring in computer science. This past summer he interned at a tech company in Silicon Valley.

During two years in the U.S., Chaturvedi has been surprised by various aspects of society, as he explained last year in a post on Quora.

Chaturvedi offered his latest thoughts on America in an email to Business Insider.

The most surprising things about America:

Nobody talks about grades here. 

Everyone is highly private about their accomplishments and failures. Someone's performance in any field is their performance alone. This is different compared to India where people flaunt their riches and share their accomplishments with everybody else.

The retail experience is nowhere near as fun/nice as it is in India. Because labor is cheap in India, there is always someone who will act as a "personal shopper" to assist you with holding your clothes, giving suggestions, etc. In America, on the other hand, even if you go to a Nordstrom or Bloomingdales, there is almost nobody to help you out while you're shopping. Shopping in America is more of a commodity / chore than it is a pleasurable activity 

This may be biased/wrong because I was an intern, but at least in the tech world, nobody wants to put you under the bus for something that you didn't do correctly or didn't understand how to do. People will sit with you patiently till you get it. If you aren't able to finish something within the stipulated deadline, a person on your team would graciously offer to take it off your plate.

The same applies to school. Before I came to the United States, I heard stories about how students at Johns Hopkins were so competitive with each other that they used to tear important pages from books in the library just so other students didn't have access to it. In reality, I experienced the complete opposite. Students were highly collaborative, formed study groups, and studied / did assignments till everyone in the group "got it". I think the reason for this is that the classes are / material is so hard that it makes sense to work collaboratively to the point that students learn from each other. 

Strong ethics -- everyone has a lot of integrity. If someone cannot submit their completed assignment in time, they will turn in the assignment incomplete rather than asking for answers at the last minute. People take pride in their hard work and usually do not cheat. This is different from students from India and China as well as back home in India, where everyone collaborates to the extent that it can be categorized as cheating. [...]

An almost-classless society: I've noticed that most Americans roughly have the same standard of living.  Everybody has access to ample food, everybody shops at the same supermarkets, malls, stores, etc. I've seen plumbers, construction workers and janitors driving their own sedans, which was quite difficult for me to digest at first since I came from a country where construction workers and plumbers lived hand to mouth. 

Posted by at September 2, 2013 1:54 PM
  

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