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Apparently just ruined my next 6 years due to cultural etiquette.


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So last night, I got the visit weekend schedule from one university, with everyone visiting the organic section that weekend cc'd. Thought I, "oh how lovely! I'll just email everyone else and say hi, seeing as we're going to be spending a weekend together and then maybe several years". I've just been informed that in America, that's seen as creepy. In Britain, that would be seen as a really positive and friendly thing to do if you're going to be spending a weekend with people, and I was pleased I got in there first as I thought it would show that I'm friendly and outgoing and a person you'd want to look out for - as it would in Britain. No. Apparently it makes me look creepy and weird. 

 

How on earth do I rectify this? Wait till I get there and when someone says (they will say, won't they? Or is that not something you do in America either?) "oh, you're the one who emailed us" with or without "like a complete CREEPER" tagged onto the end, then make a joke out of it and say 'sorry it sounded weird; that would be normal in Britain'? Or just live with the shame of no one in my year wanting to talk to THAT girl for the next six years? How on earth was I meant to know?! 

 

Thought I'd ask you guys seeing as even though I was in America all summer, I can still get the culture so wrong. :( Also if anyone has any kind of explanation I might benefit from, I'd be glad (if probably completely mortified) to learn... I've found that cultural norms usually seem completely incomprehensible to an outsider! 

Edited by oopalfrootz
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This sounds like a silly misunderstanding (on their part), and I wouldn't worry about it. You do seem just like the type of person someone would want to befriend in grad school, and most Americans should (and, I'd argue, do) understand that you had no ulterior or nefarious reason for emailing the whole group. Don't let this discourage you from being friendly and outgoing. 

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I think maybe this might be getting blown out of proportion a tiny bit. I don’t know who told you it was inappropriate, but unless it was a professor or something (in which case I might freak out too) it seems to be a much bigger social blunder to point it out in the first place. For the sake of honestly, I would probably not have emailed everyone on the visiting weekend, but I really dont think its that big of a deal.

 

Did someone make a comment along the lines of "don't send personal messages to CCed contacts?" I think the problem was not that you said hi, but rather that you were contacting people’s personal addresses without authorization. I'm sure not everyone will end up staying in the program, and the admissions committees have our contact information with the understanding that they were confidential. Many people won't care that they are being made semi public, but some might be bothered. Its more about a privacy issue than you. Its just a silly little mistake, not a massive crisis.

 

I wouldn’t say anything (no one else is going to bring it up either, that would be very unnecessary and kind of antagonistic). I think at the very worst it seems a bit "over-eager". I'd try to relax. Honestly, I'm weird all the time accidentally and everyone just gets over it and moves on.

 

It certainly is not going to be a problem for years. There is no way everyone is going to remember and care about one email for more than a few days.

 

If it makes you feel better, someone in my residential college in undergrad responded to 5000 people accidentally talking about his personal crisis with the housing office. It was super personal, and really hilarious and the housing office ended up having to send out an email to EVERYONE telling them to please disregard all the responses. Everyone got over that, and it was a MUCH bigger deal.

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I agree with spacezeppelin, this is getting blown out of proportion.  While I agree this is not common practice in America, I certainly had a few people do this at interviews last year, and while I certainly thought it was odd, it in no way colored my opinion of the person.  I think most people would shrug this off as excitement about the interviews, and not look too much into it.

 

I would also agree that if someone e-mailed you back complaining, they are probably worried about privacy.  Chances are, you probably won't care what this person thinks about you in the future anyway, and they will find plenty of other reasons to not like you, through no specific fault of your own.  I'd move on and stop worrying; go enjoy the weekend!

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I wouldn't worry about it too much...most people I know wouldn't mind the e-mail.

 

Culturally speaking, this differs from East-Coast to West-Coast, even between the South and Midwest...I know here in Texas that is just being "neighborly". Where I attended my UG in the Midwest they might see it as slightly odd, but won't hold it against you.

 

Honestly, if that is the worst cultural faux pas that you commit you'll have little to no problems.

 

Good luck!

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Luckily, it wasn't one of the people I emailed, but an American friend I mentioned it to that said it might be construed as weird. If someone replied and said that, I probably would think they were a bit of an ass unless they stated a relevant concern! I guess I am freaking out a bit too much, but I'm totally disappointed at myself. ARGH. Hopefully it will be fine... 

 

"Neighbourly" was totally what I was going for! Let's hope all the other applicants are from Texas. :P

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Actually, I don't think that's weird or creepy at all, unless the note was odd in some way. I'd actually be quite excited to get an introduction email. It's much better than the accidental reply-alls that contain personal travel details that I keep getting :) .

 

If you want to PM me the email you sent, feel free to do so. Otherwise, relax and enjoy the visit!

Edited by dat_nerd
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I can pretty much guarantee that no one worth your while will give a crap about this.  They'll just look at it, and then close the email.

 

The only way that your first impression will in any way be tarnished by this is if YOU bring it up and even worse apologize for it.

 

If someone else brings it up, be yourself and explain what you were thinking, just like you did in the first post.  Not because that's the "American" thing to do or anything, but because you seem like a nice person and it will show if you just be yourself and they will probably just go "hm" and move on, or chuckle with you if you laugh it off.

 

Zero fxs given.

 

And if anyone acts like a douchebag to you because of this?  Well you just saved yourself like 6 years of trying to please a jackass.

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Hmmm.... I'd be irritated the original email did not use the blind carbon copy feature.(The Bcc just below the cc option) . I wonder if it is a generational thing. My college age daughter did not know what it was for. Not a problem OP. Some might construe cc as others being willing to share email addresses. The department might be embarrassed though... They should have known better.

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I was moderately surprised they didn't use BCC either - but not a great deal at the time as I was expecting them to encourage something like this in terms of what I was thinking as good qualities in a grad student. Derp! Most of you have calmed me down a bit now; it's not the end of the world, is it. Probably haven't ruined the rest of my life - if I even pick that uni! I guess I'll just have to feel slightly awkward when I meet everyone, and hopefully most of them will be nice and that will dissipate. :) Thanks, everyone.

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Doesn't sound creepy or weird to me at all.  If anything, I might be slightly annoyed that my email address hadn't been BCC'ed on the original email, thereby making me vulnerable to spammers.  But I wouldn't classify a welcoming email from a potential cohort-mate as "spam."  In fact, I'd be happy to get a message like that. 

 

So don't worry about it; I'm sure it's fine and hasn't ruined anything.   :)

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If you still think that is awkward, how about this. One of my acceptance notification was sent in batch with no BCC. A week later, someone sent a mass mail to everyone EXCEPT for the graduate program coordinator asking if we have news on funding details (and he did get a reply!). Frankly speaking, I was slightly annoyed (it was far from a friendly introduction email), but I have already trashed that email and I couldn't even recall his name for god's sake.

 

If someone's really annoyed by your one email and be mean to you for six years, I'd say the fault lies with that person and not you.

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If you still think that is awkward, how about this. One of my acceptance notification was sent in batch with no BCC. A week later, someone sent a mass mail to everyone EXCEPT for the graduate program coordinator asking if we have news on funding details (and he did get a reply!). Frankly speaking, I was slightly annoyed (it was far from a friendly introduction email), but I have already trashed that email and I couldn't even recall his name for god's sake.

 

If someone's really annoyed by your one email and be mean to you for six years, I'd say the fault lies with that person and not you.

I got that same email. I was surprised that everyone's email was in the "to" field, not even cc'd (and for a CS program too...). Even worse though, I was sent someone's full travel itinerary that was reply-all'd to all the other admitted students for a different university. Yes, a friendly introduction email is much appreciated in comparison.  :)

Edited by dat_nerd
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I wouldn't really find this weird. Although I would not have done the same thing, I would not mind that if you had emailed everyone just a quick message to say hi and/or excited to meet everyone next weekend! (or whenever it was). If you tried to have a full conversation with everyone at once though...that might be strange. 

 

Like others above said, if I had received your email, I would be more surprised and annoyed at the school for not BCC'ing us (instead of at you). Actually, most of my schools last year did not BCC us, so I was able to figure out who else was going to attend some of the visit weekends before it started!

 

Meeting each other is one of the most important parts of a visit weekend -- you want to make sure you like your cohorts as well as the school/current students and profs. After the visit, we traded contact info and we let each other know when we had made our decisions. You are just getting a head start :P 

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 Thought I, "oh how lovely! I'll just email everyone else and say hi, seeing as we're going to be spending a weekend together and then maybe several years".

 

Lulz!

 

It's also about 2% as bad as you think it is.

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I agree with what everyone is saying, don't stress about it. I'm surprised your friend said it would be construed as weird, I've received similar emails and I don't really pay attention to them. Also, I think a lot of people in the US (especially students) are used to different cultures. For example, in my ~17 person lab we have at least 6 people from different countries (where English isn't their first language) and at least another 5 people with parents that did not grow up in the US. Don't be afraid to be you, I think it is wonderful!

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