There are a lot of cultural differences between Vietnamese and American culture. In these short notes, I will summarize cultural differences observed in the academic environment.
Firstly, in general, American students are more confident than VNese students. This is a consequence of American (and Western) educational system from lower grades. Students are encouraged to express themselves openly and freely without being criticized by their teachers or their parents. In class, they can ask their teachers whenever and whatever they want. This is a sharp constrast with classrooms in VN educational system, in which students are required to be silent.
Secondly, it is perfectly OK to talk with your professors, your instructors about any problems you might have with the material given in the course. They have consultation hours, in which you can go to their offices and ask them about problems you can not solved in class. Most professors and instructors can be addressed by their first names, we don’t have to call them Professor or Dr. So and So. However, it is advisable that when writing e-mails to them we should address them with full titles 🙂
Finally, if you don’t talk much, you might be thought to be un-cooperative and not friendly. If you talk too much, they will say you are talkative 🙂 So there should be a balance, and it may depend on personalities. Being the only VNese student in my department for a few years, I have talked a lot with American students. They believed that some foreign students maintain a closed society on their own which is not preferable by the department.
I do believe that VN has 4000 years of history and American history is relative short. However, American culture has a deep root from European and other cultures, which might be more than 4000 years old. For example, in Washington D.C, the Washington monument has a shape of an obelisk, an Egyptian symbol of immortality.
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