Culture Shock

When I moved here a year ago I didn’t think Atlanta was going to be too different compared to Vancouver, BC, where I was born and raised.

Vancouver is diverse and has all sorts of cultures and traditions but College culture is unlike anything else. College culture in Atlanta is unlike anything else!

Alpha phi alpha greek step stroll grit

Greeks dancing in unity Plaza. I love this photo. So much passion!  To be honest, I wish I had had a Greek life experience. It was something I only ever saw on American television shows.

In Vancouver, we don’t have competitive college sports teams or Greek culture, I didn’t know how to “wobble” “dougie” or “cha cha slide”, I had never heard of “stolling” and students are not required to take an SAT or GRE.

I went to college (theatre school grad ’08), worked for a while and then moved to Atlanta to attend GSU when I was 27. I am loving the American College experience and I am involved in a few organizations. However, college students, probably at every level, have their own traditions and it takes a little time to adjust to it.

Lucky for me, most of the students that I have met at GSU are incredibly kind and intelligent and have taught me a lot. Seriously, my study groups are amazing! It’s impressive to me that at 20 to 22-years old some students are so focused and driven. They manage to work, be involved in several organizations and keep their GPAs up.

Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up:

  1. Don’t ask to share a textbook with anyone who isn’t a good friend.
  2. Do not eat smelly food in class, even if it smells good.
  3. Be aware of differences (race, religion, sexual orientation etc) but don’t let it hold you back from making friends or getting involved on campus.
  4. You really don’t have to live off of Ramen Noodles
  5. Don’t worry about your age because it really doesn’t matter and you can learn something from anyone. Most of the time no one knows how old I am but I still try not to announce my age or talk about my accomplishments. Most of us have had the older students in class who actually does announce their age and goes on and on about how they did this and that while the entire class is forced to listen. While it is irritating, I completely understand where they are coming from. It can sometimes feel like going back to school means you’ve taken a step backwards. It is not.
International Student Association ISAC flag parade ISSS canada study abroad

Every year the International Student Association Council puts together a flag parade in which students at GSU represent over 140 countries.

We all have things that set us apart. I’m not sure you could say that GSU students are mostly any one specific demographic. When we were brainstorming name ideas for this blog, we went around campus and had students say the first word they thought of was when asked to describe Georgia State University. Almost everyone said “Diversity”.

What tips have helped you along the way? Are there specific social codes for Freshmen? Grad or Doctorate students? Greeks?



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