My roomie's an international student so her English isn't that great, but in one of her classes the prof had them write an essay/term paper on business ethics. Seeing as 1) she's an international student and 2) she's in finance so term papers/essays really aren't the norm she came to me for help. The topic she had to write about was Wal-Mart and all the ethical issues that company's had and anyone who knows me knows I adore bitching about corporations and their lack of conscience, ethics and morals so I told her no problem.
What I didn't expect, however, was instead of proof-reading a final draft I'd basically be writing the thing x___X I think it came down to her finding the sources she wanted to use, grabbing a few quotes from them, attempting to paraphrase a few ideas/statistics from them, and the rest was in my hands to string the ideas together, come up with a thesis based on the quotes/stats she chose (working backwards lol) and of course seeing to the grammar and mechanicals of the essay. Not that it was really her fault, the poor girl had no clue how to write a social science paper (had no idea how to write a paper period it seemed) mixed with her poor English; not sure where to find sources, not knowing how/when to cite sources, what format to use for citations (APA vs. MLA) etc., etc. it was a pretty disastrous venture. For my part, though, I was, for lack of a better word, quite a b*tch. I was snappy and impatient, especially towards the end. I mean I offered to help but was so bitchy while going about it x___X Geez I feel awful...
Coincidentally, another friend in our building (also an international student) was in the same class as my roommate and she too was writing her paper on Wal-Mart. When she also came to me asking me to proof-read her paper it really stunned me the differences between the education styles/types between the two countries (China vs. Canada), essay-writing wise anyway. I mean over here it's been pounded into us since high school that essays begin with an introduction that includes a thesis clearly stating what this paper is going to be about, then you go to the body of the essay to make/prove your points, and finally in the conclusion you sum up everything you write and re-phrase the thesis again. You know, the "hamburger model" as my high school English teacher so eloquently described it as. This girl had written her essay like a report, with subheadings and sections instead of paragraphs that linked one idea to another, charts to organize statistics, no thesis, barely any citations and the ones she had were definitely not to format, and had no idea what a bibliography/citations page/reference page was or why it was needed O_____o At first when she sent me her initial draft she had her "references" (which were all websites that I'm sure she probably just did a quick google for instead of the "reliable" sources profs tend to prefer) simply listed at the end of her "essay", not even on a separate page >____< It was literally like she had never, ever written an essay before (which I wouldn't be surprised if that was the truth).
Heavens I've never been so grateful to my English teacher in high school. Just based on that I'm so glad I'm not studying in some foreign country, you find differences in the most unexpected areas of life between cultures.