Cultural differences

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.    


7 Responses

  1. I think that “students [in Vietnam] are required to be silent” is not true any more. It may still be true for younger students but for high school or college students, it is no longer true. In fact, when I was in high school and college, I did ask questions and did discuss a lot with my teachers.

  2. Anh Trieu, if I’m right then you were in PTNK right? So you were in a special school and that’s why you had chance to discuss with your teachers. For other school students are not encouraged to ask questions like that (even in LHP, I studied with a teacher who always refused questions from students.)

  3. I’ve finished my highschool in 1993 at Thanh My Tay highschool, now the school has changed the name to PTTH Gia Dinh, hence the name Thanh My Tay no longer exists. But in my memory, in the highschool classes back then we were not encouraged to ask the teachers on the topic that you did not understand. You were encouraged to solve problems, hard problems, then harder problems… 🙂 There are advantages in that way of learning if you truly want to be a scholar 🙂 However, Western highschool classes are not given in this manner. The students just want to entertain in their classes 🙂

  4. Yuppy! Back then when I was in highschool I rarely “dared” to ask questions in regular class. (But I had fun discussing in my Song ngữ classes as the teachers for these classes were more open.) I was very nervous every time I asked prof. Đức questions, as I never done it before. It took me a long time to get used to it 😀 and I’m totally agree with anh Thống’s comment about the shyness of many Vietnamese students (I was like that though 🙂 )

    About #3, I wish I knew it sooner 🙂 I had my first recitations without good knowledge about American culture. I was not talkative so they said I had problem with communication 😀 Everything is now okay and it took me time to become more talkative and friendly.

  5. Uh, In my school, Mac Dinh Chi, if you want, you can ask but sometime the teachers’ll have no preferable answer. So you have to accept their answer although you don’t really understand.

  6. every country has its culture, so everybody need to respect that ,to me culture is a abtract definition (concept),perhaps everyone also think similer to me . bacause it is true to talk that culture is charactictism of any countries around the wolrd.

  7. i have no idea:D

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