I am an undergraduate student at a Chinese university. Recently I asked for recommendation letters from two professors at my university, one Chinese and the other American, in order to apply for a summer program at a US institution. I have taken courses from both of these professors and performed quite well.
Upon hearing my request, the Chinese professor asked me to first write the recommendation letter for myself and then send it to him so that he can modify and sign it. The foreign professor, on the other hand, wrote the whole letter all by himself. I was later told by my classmates that it is the "common practice" for many professors in China to ask the student to write the recommendation letter for himself and then sign it.
Now my questions are: (1) Is the same thing a "common practice" in western universities? (2) Is it ethical for professors to transfer the load of writing the recommendation letters to students themselves? (3) I feel extremely uneasy when trying to write something that is supposed to praise myself. Is there any method for overcoming this uneasiness?
I would sincerely appreciate any help in answering my questions. Thanks!