exchnge_students

exchnge_students - Comparison of Exchange Students' Views...

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Comparison of Exchange Students’ Views of the Drinking Culture at MIT and Cambridge Amy Wu STS.062 Drugs, Politics, and Culture May 17, 2006
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Introduction The United States and the United Kingdom have extensive cultural differences despite sharing the same language. One of the most significant differences between the two countries is their drinking cultures. The legal drinking age in the United States is 18 years old while the age is 21 years old in the United Kingdom. The disparity in ages has the ability to create a distinct divide in the way children are raised to deal with and view alcohol. How do the drinking cultures in the U.S. and U.K. differ? Is one better than the other? This paper addresses these two questions in the context of two universities- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Cambridge. MIT and Cambridge are linked by a strong exchange program called the Cambridge-MIT Exchange (CME) Program. About 40 to 60 students are exchanged between MIT and Cambridge through CME. In addition to adapting to new academic experiences, the exchange students are forced to adapt to a new culture, one which may seem alien to their own experiences. In order to answer the broader questions posed above, this paper studies the exchange students' perceptions of the drinking culture at Cambridge and at MIT. How do Cambridge students view the drinking culture at Cambridge, and how do their views compare with MIT students’ views while abroad? Likewise, how do Cambridge students’ views on the MIT drinking culture compare with those of MIT students? Analyzing a drinking culture from two different angles provides a better understanding of the overall structure of the life around alcohol. Background of the CME Students The interviews were conducted in both individual and group settings, depending on the preference of the interviewee. While questions about education and responsibility, alcohol’s involvement in social life, and drinking alone were presented, the interviewees were allowed to freely direct the conversation. Follow-up questions about their personal drinking habits were asked by e-mail for privacy reasons. The views and statistics in this paper were all self-reported data, making under-reporting or over-reporting potential problems. However, Wechsler claims that “a number of studies have confirmed the validity of self-reports of alcohol and substance… [because] if a self-report bias exists, it Wu 2
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is largely limited to the heaviest use group” (1676). Thus self-reporting is an adequate tool for studying the two alcohol cultures. It is necessary to know about the background and drinking habits of the interviewed students to understand their views on drinking. Thirteen students were interviewed for the paper. Their names are Mark, Charles, Larry, Steve, Julie, Nina, Simon, Cindy, Mary, Jack, Mabel, George, and Albert. As shown in Table 1, four students were originally from MIT, and nine students were from Cambridge. Three of the
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course ARCH 4.401 taught by Professor Utemetabauer during the Fall '06 term at MIT.

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exchnge_students - Comparison of Exchange Students' Views...

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