Personal Relationships

Meeting new people and making friends is a big part of college in the U.S. A good understanding on the U.S. culture in relationships helps you establish a healthy relationship with others. No matter how or where to meet people, the most important part of a relationship is respect.

Non-romantic relationships with friends

In the U.S. it is common for men and women to be friends, without any romantic feelings, despite what media says.

How to make friends? - Most people make friends by joining a club, or talking to someone in their class. Going out for an activity or trip is a good way to start making friends. Ask your classmates to go see a movie, go bowling, or attend campus events! Go to the Trips & Activities page to find more about upcoming fun events!

  Click the image to watch the "How to Make a New Friend" video.





How to greet people? - Greeting a friend will depend on the person and what they are comfortable with. Some people like a simple handshake or "fist bump" but others may have more elaborate greetings. Certain cultural greetings, however, may not be common here. For example, in the U.S. most people are not comfortable with kisses on the cheek.

  Click the image to watch the "Greetings Around the World" video. It talks about how people greet differently around the world.

Common greetings in the U.S.

  • Hanshake or just saying "Hello," when you first meet someone or you are at a professional environment.
  • Hugs or fist bump, when you are friends with the other person.



Romantic relationships with partners

When people are in a romantic relationship with someone, we use words like "dating" or "going out." There are many ways to meet people and date in the U.S.

  • Through friends
  • School
  • Social gathering
  • Social media
  • Volunteering
  • Events etc.

At OSU, we believe that you can date anyone you want. That means, a man can date a man, a woman can date a woman, or more than two people can date.

  Click the image to learn more about Healthy Relationships.


Professional Relationships in the U.S.

As part of being a college student in the U.S., it is very important to know how to communicate with your instructors or professors effectively and appropriately.

Talking to professor/instructor in person:

  • Use their last name. Put "Professor" or "Doctor" before their last name.
    • It they tell you to use their first name, that's when you can call them by their first name.
  • Be respectful of their time.
    • They usually have office hours where you can drop by and ask questions without appointments. If office hours don't work with your schedule, email and make an appointment. DO NOT visit them without appointments.
  • Be prepared.
    • Have your questions ready. It will show your respect for them, and also they will appreciate it.

Emailing professor/instructor:

Please be polite and respectful when emailing your professor or instructor.

  • Use proper etiquette and grammar.
    • Always have a subject line. Do not leave it blank.
    • Always start with "Dear Ms., Mr., or Professor LAST NAME,".
    • Use their last name unless they tell you to use their first name.
  • Introduce yourself if emailing for the first time.
    • Tell your name, ID number, and which class you are taking.
  • Be clear with your questions.
    • If your questions are too long, try to make an appointment and ask your questions in person.
  • End an email with a proper closing.
    • At the end of an email, say 'Thank you," "Sincerely," "All the best," or any other closings.
    • Put your full name after the closing.
    • Wait for their response for at least for 3 business days ("business days" mean weekdays).
    • If you still don't get a response, send one short email. Be polite and respectful.
    • If you send excessive numbers of emails within a short time of period, that could be considered as "harrassment" or "stalking" in the U.S., and you may get in a trouble.


Laws around Relationships in the U.S.

The US has laws about what behaviors are acceptable in personal relationships. This includes friendships, romantic relationships, marriages, brothers/sisters and with people you don't know. The following behaviors are illegal and unacceptable.

  Watch the video below to learn more about the Sexual Assault Laws in the U.S.

Physical abuse

is hurting someone's body by hitting, pushing, or grabbing them.

Emotional abuse is hurting someone's feelings by saying things that will make them feel bad, like yelling or saying things to scare or threaten them.

Sexual abuse is having sex or touching someone (even spouse or boy/girlfriend) in a sexual way when they have not clearly and willingly said "Yes." If a person cannot give consent or say "Yes" for any reason, touching them or forcing them to have sex with you can be considered as sexual abuse. It incluses when they cannot say "Yes" or "No" because they are sleeping or drunk.


Harassment is doing something to someone that makes them feel uncomfortable or upset. If someone asks you to stop doing something, stop right away!

Stalking is following or watching a person in a away that takes away their privacy.

  • Do not follow anyone home, to work, or to school.
  • Do not look at other people's mail or phone.
  • Do not call or text someone if they do not want you to.
  • Do not access other people's email or Facebook accounts without their permission.       


If you have experienced abuse or assault, it is not your fault.

There are many resources available to help you. The resources listed here are 100% confidential. Confidential means they will not tell anyone what you say or share without your permission. 

Center for Advocacy, Prevention, and Education (CAPE)
It is a free and confidential service for all OSU students affected by different forms of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, unwanted sexual experiences, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

311 Plageman Building
Student Health Services
Phone: 541-737-2030
[email protected]

Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV)
You can call CARDV at any time, 24 hours a day, to get advice, talk to someone, or ask for help. They also have an emergency shelter that you can stay at if you are in danger.

2208 SW 3rd St. Corvallis
Phone: 541-754-0110 or 1-800-927-0197

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner 
If you have been sexually assaulted, it is important to see a nurse as soon as possible. The Sexual Assault Nurse Ecaminer provides sensitive, thorough treatment to sexual ssault survivors. Treatment is completely confidential.

Plageman Student Health Building
Phone: 541-737-9355

Interpersonal Violence Support Services
IVS can help you with support, safety, counseling, and provide information about reporting options. If you need support or have questions related to unwanted sexual contact, stalking, and/or relationship violence, don't hesitate to contact them.

500 Snell Hall
Phone: 541-737-2131

Other Resources

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
CAPS provides counseling services to OSU students for free. It is confidential. No appointment is needed for your first visit. Simply visit them between 9 am - 4 pm, Mondays through Fridays.

Department of Public Safety/Oregon State Police
DPS and OSP are here to protect our safety. For an emergency, call their emergency number at 541-737-7000.

ASOSU SafeRide
ASOSU provides a safe ride home or to campus, 7 pm - 2 am, everyday (except for holidays, OSU breaks, and campus closures). You can install their app onto your phone and request a ride. This service is only for OSU students who are currently registered. You will need your ONID information.

University Ombuds Office
This office helps you resolve conflicts with your friends, roommates, classmates, instructors/professors, family members, etc. Your information will be confidential. 

If your issue isn't resolved after directly speaking with the person or consulting with campus resources, including the Senior Coordinator for Care and Conduct, you can submit the INTO OSU Formal Student Complaint.

Care Coordinator
If you want to learn more about campus resources, contact the Care Coordinator. She will connect you to appropriate campus resources.