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Fraternity amongst students in different cultures

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I graduated from university this year (was educated in IT sphere), and observed quite an intresting phenomenon - a presense of so-called fraternity or brotherhood-like relationships amongst vast majority of students. Its main idea is simple, yet powerful, to help thy nearest in need. Not rivalry and competition, but help and protection.

I once read an article which dealt with quite an infamous difference between individual-oriented and collectivistic cultures. It stated, above all, that these cultures are not only different, but also antagonstic in their ideals.

The first type concentrates on one particular individual's achievements, and values independence, self-confidence and performance.

The second focuses on group values, such as morality, universal good, unselfishness, kindness.

The first one would shun anyone not strong enough to stand out, while the second will hate anyone who has ambitions which do not comply to the society's trends.

In fact, the word 'ambitious' is a negative-value word in those languages (for example, Russian word 'амбициозный').

The most popular praise and disapproval, respectively, are:

'you are so rich', (healthy, strong, beautiful, lucky, beaten everyone else)

and 'you are a loser' (weak, poor, beaten by anyone)

in the first type of culture and 'you are caring' (honest, kind, respectful, knowing, wise, responisble, hard-working) and 'you are selfish' (cheaty, neglectful, scornful, careless, lazy) in the second type of cultures.

So, after such an introduction, let's catch on matter...

I, personally, have lived for all of my life in a second type culture country, and may have a tiny bias, but still understand both of them.

I think, your country's ideals (at least as seen from outer world) seem natural to your history - adventurers of any sort form all parts of Europe went for search of better life to another, not so hospitable continent. Having all the knowledge already in purse, they needed only to use it. thereforeeee, a great custom of acting all the time was born. Competition was also part of the story. There was no time to think or work on morale. You had to act, before your neighbour does and gets an advantage.


Now let's really catch the body of the topic.

Once one of our professors told us that foreign students (that is, the western ones) were different in the fact they had no problems with plagiarism.

If you studied anywhere, you know the problem in and out. (I'm not much into US educational system, but I think a college would do. We do not have colleges - our schools encompass whopping 12 years (from age 6-7 up to 18-19), and various high schools (institutes, universities) 4-6 years.) It is when you no longer just blankly do what you're given, like a lot of homeworks for 1-2-3 days, but rather a few tasks for weeks or even months. No minute guidance, only general directions are given. Lectures help, but they are not enough, and not always well understood unless much later (I still doubt if it is just me, or this is supposed to be this way. A lot of people feel the same, because the pressure is hard during years of study, even former geeks at school start to get tired. As for the others...)

Yeah, as for the others it is just that... Plain dumb revolting dirty filthy deadly (whatever else) p l a g i a r i s m.

I actually was anti-plagiarist during school days, because I WANTED to do anything myself. Let it be ugly, stupid, weak, not ideal, with flaws - it is still my work till the tiniest atom. My mistakes are also mine. To be honest I was a good pupil at school (even in the top 20 ratings in the whole 400 pupil school). What I believe helped me is that my mother never helped me with any school tasks. I didn't let her. I was assertive and careful since 7 years old. Yeah, I had drawbacks - no friends, no parties, weak nerve system, but still I thought of myself as being 'good' in second cultures sense.

During my university years, my thoughts changed a little. I understood, that school was way different. You had to be attentive and hard-working, and that would be sufficient for earning good marks almost stabily.

In university, natural brain power comes into play.

I've seen lazy and unserious people who solved differential equations as snapping nuts, smiling at everyone else; as well as some hard-working ones unluckily failing to grasp some essential concept of physical property or dependance and having to learn by heart a lot of unneeded material just to pass their exam and forget it all altogether afterwards.

What unfairness, I often asked myself, does make things so?

Now for the last part, I'll state one intresting thing - one other professor noted a characteristic trait of us - if a difficult task was not solved for a long time and than finally someone (eureka!) solved it, then the solution became instantly known to all the other students. That is so-called brotherhood - you help others, not making rivals of them.

Returning to plagiarism, I'd state that it blossomed. And they told us that westerns don't have it. No, the westerns are not more responsible, they are just selfish and don't share. No such thing as fraternity could exist where money is, and for the vast majority of westerns education is future money. So, (we are returning to the start now) it is a personal goal, while we tried to share thoughts (illegally, that is; I still remember it and advise against it because dumb copying will only trick you out of failure, but not give any food for the brain) as a community. They said that sheer competition is what prevented so-called brotherhood attitudes. We helped each other, because knew that students are, as usually (don't know about your country) are the poorest people of all (who can't yet earn anything serious, but already left parents), have problems with food, or rent, do theirs thesises at night while working at some second grade facility as barman, pizzaman and the like. We felt that the clever ones should help the others. I even knew two fellows who lived in 'symbiosis': one did the papers and solved tasks for both of them, and the other peeled potatoes and cleaned up the room for both (I'm talking about dormitory living).

What you guys (and gals, too, lol) think on the matter?

Have anyone observed this? Have anyone thought on the matter, or, perhaps, faced some different culture in their life? How hard do you find studyng completely on your own? Do you prefer it, just as me, or think it is impossible? If so, would you defend copy-paster cheaties?

I found out, after I started working, that ability to think by yourself is even much more important than the knowledge itself, because it can be acquired easier that way and gives real understanding. Do you agree?

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I just recently finished an engeering degree in Australia. Students in Australia are told plagerism is a very serious offence. However, i hate to admit it, but everyone i knew, including myself, plagerised work. In fact, i knew of a time where an identical major report was handed in. It was done in the previous year, handed to the same lecturer, and it wasnt picked up on.


Is it unfair on the people who dont plagerise? Yes, but there arnt any of them because everyone realises the advantages. Work smarter, not harder. Make friends and get help, get more access to past material.


Half my course were international students, i found culture made no difference. "Not rivalry and competition, but help and protection." This is exactly how it was at my uni. My degree was designed to get people working in groups, but if it wasnt for other people i dont think i would have got through the degree. Not just becuase we were working together, but more resources were available (ie, past exams, past projects)


My attitude, although bad, was that until lecturers put the time and effort into marking and caring about students, i wouldnt put the effort into learning. Will this affect me when i start work? no, because employers have no expections! The university i attended was more concerned about earning money through research that producing top quality graduates. The same exams were given to students each year. They arnt hard to get a hold of, althought lecturers try prevent it. 25% of my exams/test i had seen before. 95% of the projects i did i had seen before, and had reports/answers. They dont give a * * * *, and pretend we dont have them. Throughout my degree we have been told we are learning to learn, and our degee is there to show we are capable of learning difficult things.


They are so desperate for engineers over here in Australia, and perhaps that is the problem. The standard will decrease, but in the case of my uni, they dont care, and no matter what they say, they wont punish plagerism because they cant be bothered going through the process to find, and then do something about it. They pretend it doesnt happen.


I did find studying on my own more difficult. But my job is about putting heads together and solving a problem. Working in a group is what I will be doing. I am really anti university because i believe my degree is no longer worth much. Yeh i have an engineering degree, but really, its easier to get than it should be.


I dont know if i answered your questions directly, i only skimmed your post. I wanted to add my 2 cents because its related to the issues i have had in my degree.

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I thank both of the respondents, and invite everyone else to have a word.

I think this issue is quite important, not only for ones like me (who lives in a economically 'difficult' post-Soviet country with huge unemployment rate and gross gaps between the rich elite and numerous underclass almost without having a normal backbone of every well-developed modern country - middle class - the engineers, scientists, doctors, teachers, otherwise intelligent professionals).

No, I've read the same thing buggers westerns too, and it is a bad sign for all modern people. The roots are easily spotted - the technology becomes more and more powerful and requires less and less understanding of it to successfully operate its artifacts.

Remember old photo cameras? Not eveyone had the skill and patience to learn it, to run a in-house photo lab with red lights and all, to prepare solutions of different chemicals to develop film, to read vast amount of photo literature...

But now... push the blasted button, Johnny!

As for my case, I studied in a rather 'difficult' uni - it was countries oldest state official university which generally didn't accept anyone for money, but rather knowledge - you have to have very good marks in your school graduation certificate to get into uni. (it all was funded by government). So it was quite difficult to pass each of the exams.

I think a lot on the matter these days, because:

1. it actually lit me green light to find a job I'm suited for (not an ice-cream seller or the like)

2. it is almost useless at work, but I like to address this to the very nature of IT sphere - ever rolling turmoil of change - what you thought novel once become garbage in a year

3. I sometimes regret I didn't stay to get Dr. degree(it is a recurring dream from childhood of being a scientist ... so silly, anyway), but calm myself with the idea that it is not really for me (if regular studying was difficult, what would be next?)

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