Exchange to US—experienced the ‘small talks’culture

CHAN Cho Man
Bachelor of Social Work(Hons)
Recipient of Social Sciences Undergraduate Scholarships (Global Exchange) AY2018-19

It was a courageous decision for me to go for an exchange program in my freshman year. From the moment I put the idea of studying abroad in execution, it also means I was going to go through everything independently, from taking the IELTS and apply visa to adapting to the environment in the US. To be frank, it was not easy and full of confusion. Despite the fact that I was already expecting there would be cultural shocks in my journey, it is still quite difficult to get used and overcome. Remember back in the Spring Break, I went to a short trip to Boston alone. I visited the MIT by myself, and then suddenly a person nearby started a conversation with me. This reminded me a stereotype of American people—they love small talks. Being a more introverted person, I didn’t know what I should respond and definitely looked quite awkward. Fortunately, after a few awkward conversations, I kind of finally get used to these small talks and become more open minded to strangers. Afterall, having small talks is not by any evil means but just a good way to know someone new and show our friendliness. I strongly recommend others to go for an exchange programme. If you are still thinking about it—just go for it! I cannot guarantee what you can gain from the experience, but if you do not give it a try, you will never know the answer.