Foreigners To Keep In Mind Before Visiting the USA - EDU

Foreigners To Keep In Mind Before Visiting the USA

What foreigners need to know before visiting the US

Before visiting a country it's critical to learn about what is considered socially acceptable, to avoid raising eyebrows or offending anyone. Many of the traditions and cultural norms that Americans find to be completely normal leave the rest of the world utterly confused. Here is a list of 30 things for travelers to keep in mind before heading to the US.

"Horse-laughing" - In Japan, people (women in particular) are expected to cover their mouths when they laugh. In the USA, it is considered normal and in some cases more genuine to laugh loudly with your mouth wide open.

Strangers smile at you for no apparent reason - Americans are often seen as overly friendly, to the point of it being strange for people who aren't used to it. In the US it is seen as polite to smile at people you pass by on the street.

College sports obsession - Sports are nothing short of an obsession in the United States, and college football games are often just as, if not more popular, than the big leagues.

Valet is a forced privilege - It is common for businesses in metropolitan cities to have strictly valet parking, so you have to pay a fee and wait at least 15 minutes for something you could have easily done yourself.

Prescription drug commercials - Despite the taboos and harsh criminal punishment around "illicit" drugs, prescription drugs are far more accepted. They are often advertised on television alongside ads for breakfast cereals and children's toys.

Terms of endearment - "Sweetie" and "honey" are nicknames used freely among lovers, friends, and strangers alike. These terms don't hold the same weight as they do in other cultures, and the word love is often thrown around as well.

Road rage is a reality - In the US people can become explosively angry at the wheel for an array of reasons from driving too slow to cutting someone off. Though people are generally polite in conversation, it's not uncommon for people to yell or even use obscene gestures when frustrated in traffic.

You don't know prices upfront - Sales tax is rarely included on price tags, so you will typically not know how much something actually costs until you reach the check-out counter.

Personal space is HUGE - Even though Americans can be very touchy with friends, the rules for strangers are very different. It is seen as odd or rude to stand too close to someone, or sit next to a stranger on a bus or in a cafeteria when other seats are available.

Tipping is mandatory - Gratuity is not only expected, but there is an entire system behind how much you should tip based on the performance of your server and the number of members in your party. The general rule is 20%.

Lawsuits are a way of life - Speaking of commercials again, lawyers are also advertised frequently on television. Anything from slipping on a front step to finding something in your food can lead to a court case in the US.

Putting feet up on everything - In many cultures, it is seen as highly disrespectful to show others the bottom of your feet, but not in the US. People often put their feet up on coffee tables or on car dashboards without a second thought.

Exaggeration - The words "awesome," "amazing," and "hilarious" are thrown around regularly about everyday things. By contrast, minor inconveniences are often talked about in dramatic ways.

Everything is so inspiring - As a French blogger put it, "The books are inspiring, everyday people are inspiring (such as all the people with children and a job at the same time, teachers, etc...). I confess that I have a little trouble with this cult of everyday heroes."

Politeness is expected—but it doesn't mean friendship - According to German blogger Otto Buchenegger, while there are of course genuine friendships in the US, someone being friendly to you is often a courtesy, and does not automatically mean they want to be your friend.

Kissing on the cheek is not a thing - Unlike many European countries, kissing on the cheek as seen as an intimate gesture in the US and not typically done with strangers. Instead, people tend to shake hands when meeting someone or in a professional setting, and hug when greeting a friend.

Table etiquette - It is considered in poor taste to use your phone or slurp. However, unlike many other countries, Americans only use their dominant hand to eat, trading their fork from one side to the other if they need to cut something. It is also seen as very strange to sit next to a table that others are already sitting at in a restaurant even if the seats are open.

Most food is anything but American - While fast food burger joints are in no way hard to find, restaurants in the US tend to be much more international. From Vietnamese to Peruvian to Greek, Americans love to dabble in different types of food from all over the world.

Timeliness is expected - One thing that most people agree on is that being on time is a serious sign of respect in the US. It is considered incredibly rude to be late and make others wait for you.

Gay/lesbian tourists are advised to stay in cities - According to Lonely Planet, "In the rural heartland, however, life can look more like the Fifties—homosexuals are still oppressed and commonly reviled. Gay travelers need to watch their step to avoid hassles and possible aggression."

Eating with hands and utensils - Most cultures either use their hands or utensils to eat, but in the US they use both, and when you should use each is far from obvious. For example, you would use a fork to eat baked chicken but fried chicken you would eat with your hands.

Bringing a gift when invited to dinner - While no extravagant gifts are expected, it is customary to bring a small offering such as flowers or a bottle of wine when you are invited into someone's home.

Talk about politics/religion at your own risk - While Americans can be open to talking about controversial topics, politics have become increasingly divisive over the years. Let's put it this way, leaving religion and politics out of dinner conversation is an unspoken rule for a reason.

Turning right on red instead of roundabouts - While they do exist, roundabouts are not nearly as common in the US as they are in other developed nations. To counteract this there is a loophole that you can turn right on a red light unless a road sign says otherwise.

You don't have to finish your plate - There is a reason that America is one of the global leaders when it comes to food waste. Portion sizes are often too large, so it is not usually considered rude to throw out the rest of your food if you can't finish it.

Strict laws on alcohol - Unlike the rest of the world, the legal drinking age in the United States is 21. As the site USA for you put it, "If you go into a club, the man at the entrance will ask you for a document proving your age; same thing in a bar when you order a beer or even just in a supermarket!"

Gun culture is alive and well - Guns are deeply entrenched in American culture and the issue of gun laws is a highly controversial topic. It is seen as completely normal to own multiple guns and go to shooting ranges recreationally.

Needing a zip code to pump gas - Using a credit card from outside of the US can be a problem because the machines ask for a zip code. Similarly, your zip code is asked for buying subway tickets in New York, but in that case, you can just press 99999 with an international card.

Public transportation is typically limited - Except for some of the larger metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York City, many areas of the US have limited and indirect public transportation systems compared to the rest of the developed world.

Hostels aren't that common - While they do exist, hostel culture isn't nearly as abundant in the US as it is in Europe. It is much more common to stay at motels or hotels on vacation. For the record, motels can actually be decent—despite what you see in movies.

No comments:

Post a Comment