The culture of a place is an integral part of its society whether that place is a remote Indian village in Sri Lanka or a highly industrialized city in Western Europe. I am an international student from Taiwan. Life in the States is very different from my home country. The culture of America fascinates me because, at first glance, it seems so different. Everything that characterizes the America---racial heterogeneity, vast territory, and an ethic of individualism--- is absent in Taiwan. In Taiwan, I find an ancient and homogeneous society, an ethic that emphasizes the importance of groups, and a very traditional life governing every aspect of daily living, from drinking Chinese tea to saying hello. On the surface at least American and Chinese societies seem totally opposite. .
When I first came to America as an international student, the first two weeks were a kind of a honeymoon for me. I arrived two weeks before the school starts. I had no trouble about accommodation since it was already arranged before I came to America. I lived with host family and I was surprised here and there because I was treated very differently. However, to study abroad was not at all easy and the first quarter was the hardest. I soon realized how heavy and demanding the courses were with all the reading assignments, quizzes, exams, papers, and projects. The cafeteria food was disagreeable and my family and friends were so far away. It was difficult to make friend because we moved from class to class, and I was so different from my classmates in cultural background and personal experience. I had no idea about their popular topics and the things that amused them so much. They didn't bother to speak to me, and I didn't know how to start a conversation with them. I kept silent and felt very much isolated. Due to cultural differences and lack of common language with the students, I withdrew to myself and concentrated on my studies.