At BYU you should expect to:

  • work very hard to complete your assignments and learn the required material
  • spend large amounts of time in the library studying
  • have frequent quizzes and tests
  • ask many, many questions in order to become familiar with your new surroundings and to learn your study material—asking questions is something "cool" and necessary
  • hear frequent references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints both in and out of the classroom
  • experience very informal relationships between students and professors
  • be successful in developing relationships with Americans if you are self-confident, outgoing and good humored
  • find that Americans' ideas of friendship are different from your own
  • find that Americans, in general, are poorly informed about your country and are likely to ask you some silly questions about it
  • have some problems becoming accustomed to local food
  • be excited in your new surroundings initially but within weeks feel some homesickness and a sense of disconnect even to the point of wanting to return home—this will usually pass and things will get better

If you have never before studied in the United States, expect to be surprised. Your images about life in the U.S. and BYU are inevitably incomplete and likely distorted by the media.

Suggestions For "Connecting" at BYU

  • Much of your experience here will depend upon your attitude.

    If you have never before studied in the United States, expect to be surprised. Your images about life in the U.S. and BYU are inevitably incomplete and likely distorted by the media.

    • Monitor your attitude and keep your outlook positive.
    • Do not hesitate to ask questions and seek assistance when ever you feel a need.
  • Explore-get familiar with your new environment.
    • Participate in New Student Orientation.
    • Talk to the office staff, faculty and students in your department.
    • Enjoy walks.
  • Pay attention to how people interact.
    • How do they greet each other?
    • How do respond in a classroom setting with the professor and each other?
    • What are the general topics of conversation between friends?
  • Be slow to judge between how things are here how they are at home.
    • It is expected that many things will be different; different is not bad or good.
    • Talk to people about what you observe to gain a better understanding of what you see. 
  • Get Involved

 

Generalizations of American Culture

Even though Americans come from diverse backgrounds, they share some basic beliefs which characterize our culture. Knowing of these basic beliefs can be very helpful as you live and interact with Americans at BYU. Keep in mind that these are generalizations and may or may not fit the circumstances or people that you encounter. The following information is an adaptation of appendix 5 of NAFSA's International Student Handbook: A guide to University Study in the U.S.A. published by AT&T™.

  • Individualism And Privacy 
    Perhaps the most important thing to understand about Americans is their devotion to individualism. It is important to be "your own person" and to stick up for your rights. Additionally, people highly value their privacy.
  • Equality 
    This American ideal is stated in our Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal." America is known as the "land of opportunity." No matter what your position, with hard work and luck, you may rise to any height.
  • Informality 
    The idea of equality leads Americans to be fairly informal in their behavior and in their relationships with others.
  • The Future, Change and Progress 
    While history and traditions are respected, Americans believe that people can control their future, even their world, and make them both better through initiative and enterprise.
  • Time 
    You may hear the expression "Time is money." Americans view time, as a limited resource to be saved or spent for useful purpose. Americans may get impatient with lines that move slowly in supermarkets, banks, etc. Americans will usually be on time for meetings and engagements and will keep a schedule of their activities and expect others to do the same. You should arrive exactly on time for meals and appointments with professors, doctors, and other professionals.
  • Achievement, Action, Work And Materialism 
    Americans are typically value accomplishing something that can be measured. Doing something is very important; even in leisure pursuits, Americans are very active.
  • Directness And Assertiveness 
    Americans generally consider it important to be very frank and direct in their dealings with others. It is thought not necessary to disguise their feelings; even if their words are not open, facial expressions may be revealing. Being honest is often seen to be more important than preserving harmony in interpersonal relationships.