20 November 2011
College Lives and Culture
Being a teacher in Indonesia is different than being a teacher in the US. My students like to be told what to do all the time. They can’t make any decisions for themselves. In Indonesia, the parents are always involved even though the children are above 18 years old. In terms of assignments, the teachers in Indonesia have to check and make sure that the students do the work all the time. If not, no students will do the work. And then there’s time management. The students have to be in the class for at least 110 minutes for one session. Sometimes they have to stay for 220 minutes with a 15 minute break in between. Every day, they have to attend at least 3 to 4 classes. My students wear a uniform from Monday to Thursday. On Friday, they can wear casual clothes. The teachers in Indonesia have to wear formal clothes and black shoes. They can’t wear casual clothes or sport shoes when they teach. In one class, there are about 25
students but in the secretarial major’s class there are usually only about 10 students. The most
difficult thing to teach is grammar or tenses. My students are not very good in English even though they have graduated from high school. When they sit in the class, they prefer to sit in groups at the back. The teacher has to ask them to move to the front because if the teacher doesn’t do that, nobody will sit at the front. Also, my students are afraid to ask questions because they are worried that they will be called stupid by the other students, so most of them will say nothing even though they don’t understand. As a teacher, I always encourage them to ask
questions when they don’t understand. I explain to them that it’s okay to ask questions because
it’s good for them and I appreciate that very much.
In Highline Community College I found a lot of interesting things that are different than the colleges in Indonesia. The teachers here can wear casual clothes, like jeans, t-shirts and sport shoes. When it comes to teacher attitudes, the students in “The Transition to College” say, “Your
instructors will not hound you to do your work. It’s entirely up to you”. It’s really up to the
students whether they want to do the work, or not because they understand the consequences. If they don’t do what they supposed to do, then they’ll be dropped out from the school.
For the assignments, the teachers give a task that needs to be finished at a certain time and nobody will ask or tell you when you need to do it. One student at Wichita State University in says, “No one tells when to start or what to do each day”. So the students have to manage their
own time wisely. The work that the teacher gives is difficult. The student from Wichita State University in “The Transition to College” also says, “College is probably going to be tougher
than high school”. But even though the work is difficult, in Highline Community College there
are places where the students can go to get some help with any difficult tasks that they have, like computer lab, writing lab and others. And now about the social life. The college students in the US are very individual. One student in “The Transition to College” says, “Sometimes it seems
harder to make friends because the size of the school”. Because in college they treat students as adults, so they don’t make friends easily. Everybody is busy with their own business. I hardly
ever see a student who wants to sit with somebody else because everybody likes sitting alone.
There are a few similar things when it comes to culture between American colleges and Indonesian colleges. The students like missing from classes or cheating when they have to do their assignments or exams. Sometimes they don’t pay attention to the teacher and do something
else, like receiving and answering text messages when the teacher doesn’t notice. The number of
students in every class is similar, about 25 people or less. However, there are a lot more differences than similarities between the culture of American colleges and Indonesian colleges. The students in the US make decisions for themselves because they are aware of their responsibilities and consequences if they don’t do what they are supposed to do. When it comes
to teacher attitudes in the US, teachers don’t have to tell the students what to do all the time
because they are more independent than the students in Indonesia. The reason is, in Indonesia, the students’ parents make the decisions all the time. In the US, the students can get help from many places when they have difficulties with their assignments. But in Indonesia, the students just have to figure them out by themselves. The schools in Indonesia don’t provide helpful
facilities where the students can get help. Most of the time I give extra classes so they can come to me and ask questions before exams. The teachers in American colleges can wear jeans and t-shirts because the students can wear whatever they want to wear, too. In Indonesia, the teachers have to wear formal clothes because the students in some colleges wear a uniform from Monday to Thursday and casual clothes every Friday.
Anyway, about social life, the students in Indonesia like sitting in groups at the back and nobody wants to sit at the front until the teacher asks them to move. In the US, the students like sitting alone. It doesn’t matter at the front or at the back. My students are afraid to sit at the front because they’re worried that they won’t be able to answer the teacher’s questions. What I do is to change the sitting arrangement. I always ask them to sit in a half circle, like letter U, instead of in rows. Finally, in conclusion, I’d like to say that there is no such place as a perfect place. Every
place has its own good and bad things. It depends on where your heart is. You can be in a place that people say is the most spectacular place on earth and not feel happy. Or the opposite, you
can be in a place that is not very spectacular and feel happy. Being in a spectacular place is
important, but it’s more important to be happy wherever you are, no matter where it is.