International students compare the American measurement system to their own

Written by: 
Tomson Cheang

While American students are used to the measuring systems in the U.S., international students said the units for height, length, weight, temperature, and the shoe size in America have brought them confusion and inconvenience in their daily lives.

Feet & inches vs. centimeters & meters

All interviewed students said they’re not used to feet and inches. Akira Nagahama, a freshman from Japan majoring in graphic design, said she had heard of inches and feet before but never used that in Japan.

Nagahama shared, “Someone once asked me how tall I am. I just answered in centimeters, and she asked how many feet and inches that is. I responded, ‘I don’t know. If you’re really curious, just google it.’”

Heran Cui, a sophomore from China studying graphic design and communication studies, shared his experience in his art class. “I learned how many feet and inches some heritages are and I just recited the numbers, but I have no idea how tall they are.”

Cui also shared his experience of buying a bicycle “She told me that a bicycle was suitable for people of [a certain height], but I had no idea about that. I only know centimeters.”

Miles vs. Kilometers

Kay Tam, a freshman from Hong Kong studying computer science, said he’s not used to miles. He shared, “Whenever I search a place, it’s in miles. I don’t understand how far it is, I just go on to google and convert it into kilometers.

“A lot of times I see ‘Speed limit 35’ on the road, but I have no idea how fast it is. It looks kind of slow.”

Ounces vs. grams

Nagahama shared that she once accidentally bought more food than she expected because she misread the scales. “I put the food on the scales and thought it was calculating in grams, but when I got to the cashier, it was so expensive and I was like ‘What?’ I didn’t realize the scales weighed the food in ounces until that point.”

Roche Donato, a sophomore from Qatar majoring in exercise sport science, also said ounces had caused him trouble when he went to markets and stores. Donato explained, “There is no conversion on the scales. If you're a math person, of course you can calculate it very fast. I always have no idea how heavy it is. One ounce sounds like a lot.”

Fahrenheit (°F) vs. Celsius (°C)

All the Students who were interviewed said they didn’t understand Fahrenheit degrees. Kotone Hori, a freshman from Japan majoring in elementary education, said she had never seen Fahrenheit degrees in her country.

Hori shared, “Before I came here, I tried to search for the temperature of Hawaii and see what clothes I should bring, but it was in Fahrenheit, and I couldn’t understand,  so I gave up on that. I just asked my Japanese friends in Hawaii what clothes I should wear.”

Mei Ying Fung, a freshman from Hong Kong studying psychology, also said she couldn’t understand the Fahrenheit in weather reports. “I just downloaded a Hong Kong app for weather report on my phone. I can view the Celsius degree on there.”

Cui said Fahrenheit degrees have brought him trouble in cooking. He said, “All ovens here are in Fahrenheit degree. I have no idea how hot it is.”

Cui also explained that there is a potential risk for international students to use ovens in Fahrenheit degrees and they should be more cautious. “Since the Fahrenheit degree is calculated in a bigger scale, international students might just turn it to a large number and underestimate how hot it actually is. This could be dangerous.”

Shoe sizes

Hori shared her experience of buying shoes here in Hawaii. “We went on the circle island tour. I wanted to buy a pair of sandals but I they were all saying size seven, eight, or nine. I was like ‘What is this?’ I had no idea about the American size. I just tried them all on.”



Date Published: 
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Last Edited: 
Thursday, July 19, 2018