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Sunday, 26 October 2014 00:00

A Nigerian's Comparison On Social Interactions Between U.K. And U.S.

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Benita Fatusin, a British-Nigerian student, who has had the privilege of schooling also in America wrote on her experience and the differences she has seen between England and America, and their education systems.

 

I have had the privilege of experiencing life and culture in different parts of the world. Although I am originally from Nigeria, growing up I often shuttled between England and my home country. I attended elementary school in England, moved back to Nigeria for high school then returned back to England for A-levels , a class offered in England to students completing high school or pre-university education. I never experienced culture shock because of the vast number of similarities between England and Nigeria. The weather remains the major difference between them.

I took my first trip to California for Christmas 2009. My family and I have come to California every other Christmas since then — however, this marks the first time I have enrolled in the American education system and I must say I have found a number of differences in the social community at Biola compared to the social community in England.

 

A WARM WELCOME

When I arrived at Biola, the first thing that caught my attention was the crowd of students cheering and holding banners welcoming new students and current students back. I felt my cheeks turn red because I did not expect this kind of welcome, and being shy, would not have willingly put myself in the spotlight. But I appreciated the surprise and instantly felt all the tension I had about starting a new school in a different environment lessen. Back in England, students do not feel obligated to make everyone feel welcome but prefer to familiarize with others who are similar to themselves.

When I got into my dorm, students would come to me and introduce themselves, ask if I needed any help, ask about my journey coming to Biola and so on. It was more than I expected from a conversation because the people I met in Britain usually do not want to know my whole story. I also noticed this behavior in people outside of Biola. I have had instances of people randomly starting a conversation with me or while I am talking with a friend during off-campus trips. Even though I often try to be as open and friendly as possible so that I do not come off as snobbish, growing up and going to school in the community of Britons taught me to be much more reserved. In fact, this kind of conversation would feel intrusive to the average British person.

 

TIGHT KNIT COMMUNITY 

As I get used to being part of the large community at Biola, I notice another difference in the amount of recommended community involvement. Students become excited for and committed to organizing and participating in dorm life and campus events and activities. This thrilled me, mostly because of the larger size of this community compared to my previous one. I love that students are highly involved in almost every post on campus. I also find it amusing that professors give students the opportunity to meet with them outside the classroom setting. In England students are not allowed that opportunity out right and, quite frankly, both tutors and students have no real interest in doing so. The drinking age in the United States is also a major difference. In England, once you turn 18 you can legally consume alcohol but in America one does not reach legal age until 21, so alcohol plays a less integral part of the campus culture in America than in Britain.

Lastly, Americans are more openly patriotic than Britons. During Nationball students cheered and shouted “USA” and I found that even during a competition between on-campus and commuting students, they all still recognized themselves as one, under one nation and rooting for one another.

Although I miss England, the well-rounded Biola community has pleasantly surprised me. Regardless of its location, attending a school with Christ at the center of everything has allowed me to successfully settle in.

Benita Fatusin.

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