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# Britain & America, Two Nations divided by a common langu

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Manager
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Britain & America, Two Nations divided by a common langu [#permalink]  20 Sep 2005, 11:13
This board has a very US feel because of the large number of good business schools there.

As a native British English speaker and graduate of two English universities, I am struck by some of the specific linguistic differences and academic cultures between Britain and the US.

I wondered if there were many people here from one country who are studying at the other, who had any thoughts on applications, interviews and settling in as a result. Other English-speaking nations feel free to chip in.
Manager
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Britain & America, Two Nations divided by a common language

If I might answer my own post, with some suggestions to Americans planning to come to Britain:

4. Don't talk too loudly
5. Don't assume that English people mean everything they say, they may be engaging in irony or sarcasm

Now can an American respond to that ...
Senior Manager
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I'm not an American responding to that. But I'm a Canadian telling you that our sales tax isn't incomprehensible; it's just expensive.

It's very simple, actually: We have federal sales tax and provincial sales tax. The provincial sales tax is a "tax-on-tax" or a compound tax.

Actually this would make a good GMAT math problem. Bob, an American tourist, visits Montreal on vacation with his family. They go out for a steak dinner and the total bill comes to $75.00 before tax. The federal sales tax is 7% and the provincial sales tax is a compound tax of 7.5%. Bob wishes to leave a 15% tip on the after-tax total. What is the total amount Bob spends on his family's dinner, including tax and tip? A.$98.76
B. $104.50 C.$99.21
D. Leave an even \$100 bill on the table and walk out (in Canadian monopoly money, it's that brown one, right?)
E. Is there beer at the end of this quiz?

Edit: By the way, for those totally confused at this seemingly random reply, it's the continuation of a discussion that started here.
CEO
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I admit that there is a danger that websites on MBA programs can become overly focused on the US at the expense of the many quality programs around the world. Thus, I have endeavoured to include coverage of schools and programs outside the US.

While reading your comments, I was reminded by the comments of many friends visting the US who were struck by the diversity of cultural expectations within the US. What might be appropriate in (say) San Jose or Portland might be considered brazen or inappropriate in Dallas or Buffalo.
Senior Manager
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Here are some suggestions for Americans planning to come to Canada:

1. Leave your "Bush/Cheney 2004" t-shirt at home, preferably stuffed in a drawer under old pairs of socks. Not everyone in Canada hates Bush, but enough people do that you will surely endure rude stares.

2. Remember that Canadians are much like Americans, but we have a very strong inferiority complex that gets masked by knee-jerk anti-Americanism. Don't take it personally.

3. Read up on Canada's cultural icons. Failure to know that Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Shania Twain or Nickelback are Canadian is a fate worse than death.

4. Say you like hockey. Even if you don't. Pretend you do. And learn enough about it to sound convincing. (Free additional advice for people coming to any part of Canada other than Toronto: Leafs' hatred is universal among people in the rest of Canada, except if the Leafs are the last remaining Canadian team in the playoffs, in which case we'll rally behind them, but we'll never admit it later).

5. Learn to modify your language. "Multicultural" instead of "melting pot". "Medicare" instead of "health insurance". "Charter of Rights" instead of "Constitution". "Right to bear someone else's burden" instead of "right to bear arms". You'll catch on.

6. We spell like the Brits but we speak more or less like you do. Well, that is, we speak like your television personalities do. That's because they're all originally Canadian.

That's all for now. If I get inspired later, I'll post a few Quebec-specific tips, too.
Manager
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In England, Canadian 'hockey' is referred to as ice hockey.
The grass/astroturf game field hockey is known as just hockey.
Neither game is widely played.

I think the distinction between association football (soccer), rugby football (union and league) and American football is well known.

The British Constitution is not written down. Well not since the Magna Carta (the great charter) was signed in 1215. That is eight centuries ago not just before lunch.
CEO
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Interesting thread indeed. keep the advice friendly and i am sure this thread will be a good place to get to know each other beter.

Praetorian
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I am suitably warned, Praetorian

It was certainly not intended to consist of anti-American jokes.
As I am considering crossing the pond, I was interested in what I might experience.

And I think there are many Americans here who are considering travelling a couple of thousand miles within the USA, who might think about travelling a little bit more and come over here.

But I would not advise Americans to write the same thing in an application form for a British MBA as for an American MBA. The excellent advice being handed out by people like Linda and Scott would not travel so well across the Atlantic. Somewhere like London Business School is pretty used to Americanisms, but outside London, Americans are less rare.

It really is considered rude and arrogant in this country to show off about voluntary, charitable, or community work. You should mention it but downplay it as much as possible. So for instance if you are President of your local Cancer Research fundraising branch, just write "I am actively involved with a local cancer charity." You will probably be asked more about it at interview, then you say, "Well, I did serve as President, but that was only because no-one else wanted to do it, and other people did far more work than I did." That would impress an English admissions tutor far more than the usual American phraseology. The same information is eventually conveyed, but you let other people draw attention to your moral successes rather than doing it yourself.

Likewise sporting activity. Generally regarded as a good thing, but don't overdo it. We have a saying here, "It's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts." We are competitive about some things, but it is considered acceptable to be not very good here. One of our great sporting heros is Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards who was last back in 1988 at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. Now doing charity work and after-dinner speeches.
http://www.nyt.co.uk/eddiethe.htm
CEO
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Quote:
richardj wrote:
I am suitably warned, Praetorian

oh, i hope that did not come across as a warning.

You bring up an excellent point. do you know of any good admissions consulting companies based out of Europe? lets try to fix this issue.

Praetorian
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No, I don't have any knowledge of such services.

But I might start one myself if there is a demand.

I think a traditional English academic would frown upon anything that slick. They would genuinely expect candidates to write them themselves. I think that spelling or grammatical mistakes would be damaging to someone's chances. The references would probably count for more (referee/references is English for recommender/recommendation), preferably from credible sources. English academics would see themselves as on the side as each other, whatever their vice-chancellor (principal/dean) thought, so no English lecturer would give an inaccurate reference to another university.

You probably don't need to appear physically perfect at an English university interview. Poor dress sense, teeth, hair, facial hair, or personal hygiene would not be the problem it might be in California.

Though I suspect business schools are becoming Americanised (Americanized) more rapidly than the rest of the country.
CEO
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I find these comments interesting since I have successfully helped many candidates applying to European/UK schools and I am sure the others on GMAT Club have done so as well. In my experience, the major Euro/UK schools have so much exposure to North Americans that they are accustomed to the cultural differences.

While I understand the point about differing cultural expectations, it is important to remember that these are really just cultural caricatures. Over the years I have known Germans who were always late, Italians who lacked any sense of style, Swedes who were indifferent to nature, French people who had no appreciation of food or wine, boring Greeks, arrogant Britons, and even Americans who were modest . . .
Manager
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I am sure that is increasingly true.

I still think that Americans who make the effort to be culturally sensitive have got a better chance of getting through the selection process abroad.
CEO
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I wholeheartedly agree that it is important to make such an effort.
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Re: Britain & America, Two Nations divided by a common langu [#permalink]  24 Apr 2009, 04:49
This is a great little thread that should be revived a little. Here's my take (as I'm from Australia another english speaking nation not represented here). In Australia we have something called the "Tall Poppy Syndrome" : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tall_poppy_syndrome. It is something of an expectation here to not flaunt ones achievements in a manner that will come across as arrogant.

However, this mindset is very counter productive when writing application essays for american b-schools. One can be "too humble" while writing essays and not show enough about oneself to influence the admissions officer. I encountered this problem with my essays last year in R1 (when I received several dings without interviews). I finally received interview calls in R2 with updated essays, but am eventually going to a British school, which perhaps could relate to my essays more.
Re: Britain & America, Two Nations divided by a common langu   [#permalink] 24 Apr 2009, 04:49
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