According to the Office for International Students and Scholars of Michigan State University, the population of international students choosing to study in the U.S. has increased in recent years.
In fall 2016, 7,264 international students enrolled Michigan State University, though it decreased by 304 students from the previous year. In the last five years, international student enrollment has grown 10 percent at MSU.
Besides coming to college for education, international students must learn the culture of living in the U.S. Does this study abroad experience change international students’ fashion style, lifestyle, and even their thoughts?
This is the third year that Marsya Mohd Johari has studied at MSU. She is originally from Malaysia.
“In many modern cities, Malaysia was influenced by American culture. But people who live in a religious region or a small town do not know a lot about American culture, and they probably have to dress to follow religious requirements.”
“Malaysia was definitely more conservative than America where people probably wear crop tops a lot and wear very short shorts. it’s just not very common in where I was from.”
Johari said that before she came to Michigan, she had never experienced winter. “Because Malaysia is a tropical country, so we only have one season– summer. But Michigan has a such cold winter, that is a really big change to me.”
Johari told me that she dresses totally different than before. “I do feel I became more confident to dress more riskily.”
“In Malaysia I don’t really wear mini skirts or crop tops because some people would stare. And my family may say that you shouldn’t dress like that, or you should dress like a good girl, which ideally would be more conservative and boring.”
Johardi came to Michigan by herself without parents or relatives to dictate her style said. Probably it is because Johardi came to Michigan by herself without parents or relatives to dictate her style
“But when I went back to Malaysia during the summer, I will leave all my denim skirts or miniskirts back in America. I do wear dresses but not something risky or fashion.” Johari said.
As a Muslim country, Malaysia does not have a drinking culture, even during parties. “But in America, people here seem love to have party and drink. This is something I had never experienced before. Although it took me a while to understand, I started to get into that after I came to America.” Johari said.
Yifei Tu, who is a MSU Junior major in media information, shares different opinion about the relationship of America. After living alone and studying in America without any family for four years, besides becoming more independent, Tu also think she became more outgoing and willing to talk to strangers. “I was pretty shy before, but I found most Americans are very enthusiastic to people. They would give you a smile and say ‘good morning’ or ‘have a good day.’ This affected me a lot.”
“I feel most cities in America is not as modern as Beijing, except several cities such as New York City or Chicago,” Tu said. “I think the way American’s dresses is more sporty, casual and comfortable. But people in Beijing would be more in style. They might care more about style instead of comfort.”
After coming to America, Tu has started to get used to American style, as she said “because it is really comfortable and easy to wear.” However, if she need to hang out with friends, she still wants to dress more fashionable and in style.
Talking about her change, Yifei also mentioned, “there are some differences in the way I spend my leisure time, in Beijing, I might have gone to shopping mall or watch movies with my friends; however, I prefer to enjoy and spend time in nature in Michigan, because Michigan has very clean air and nature view. These are what I couldn’t find in Beijing.”
Yifei then says that she became more inclusive. Because America was a such diverse country with lots of different people and different cultures, “At the first, I felt surprised to some new things, but later I just get used to it. Because everyone has their way to live” Yifei smiled and says.
Ri Xu who came from Hubei, China, is major in management, same as Yifei, this is his fourth year in the U.S. “Even I’m not the type of person who are very interested in fashion but I do notice there are some differences between American and Chinese,” Ri says. “For example, normally, American would not judge you if you have tattoo, you can even have tattoo on your face. But in China, even a small tattoo would lead people consider you as a bad guy.”
Ri also said that he found there are many different dressing styles and people won’t judge. People who dress differently could even have groups so they could gather together. But it is hard to be different in China, because even school would require you to wear a school uniform and the same haircut.