America is the third largest country in the world with a population of over 300 million people and its people come in all colors, have all types of religions and speak many different languages. It’s sometimes called the ‘melting pot’ because different cultures and societies reside and live as one nation. Here are 10 things you should know about the US.
1. Americans are very casual and informal in their greeting and often call people by their first name. They might not shake hands or make eye contact, can leave without saying goodbye or say “How are you?” and not expect an answer. This is not a sign of disrespect but rather a manifestation of a common belief that everyone is equal. Similarly, Americans generally smile a great deal, even at strangers. While they like to have their smiles returned, oftentimes this is not an invitation for further pursuit.
2. Personal space has to be respected. Americans will subconsciously take a step back if approached or standing too close to another individual. They also don’t like physical contact, especially from the opposite sex. Sexual harassment, molestation and other persecution or physical contact can result in criminal prosecution.
3. Americans are direct when they communicate. Yes and No are very precise and maybe really does mean it might happen. Always ask questions if you do not understand something because Americans will assume you do (if you don’t tell them otherwise).
4. Americans conduct business during meals, on the golf course or other social settings and the person extending the invitation will generally pay for the occasion.
5. Gift giving in the US is common in social and business settings. Birthdays, promotions, retirement are celebrated occasions involving gift giving. Gift cards are a common choice; giving the recipient an opportunity to select their own gift.
6. Dress is casual in the US. American culture, with regards to appearance, has become an expression of individuality - stand out, yet fit in. The collective selection is what is acceptable in different scenarios - the office, the church, the beach, the classroom, etc. Americans also love sportswear and comfortable clothes. This is not only evident in their clothing but also in their choice of body art such as tattoos, piercing, color, cut and style of hair, etc.
7. Smoking is very unpopular in the US and most businesses and establishments prohibit smoking inside their premises. There are usually designated, outdoor smoking areas, clearly marked by signs.
8. Americans respect time. When an appointment is made, they expect the individual to be at the predetermined location at least five minutes early. Being late, without letting someone know about the delay through a quick phone call, is considered poor behavior, rude and showing lack of respect.
9. Americans are law-abiding citizens and have many rules and regulations. They always wait in line, value their safety and the right to protect and carry arms. They also believe in freedom of choice.
10. Time is money. If conducting business, Americans prefer making a deal rather than building a relationship. In such cases, the goal is often to arrive at a signed contract, whether between a student and a university, business to business or business to customers. Business relationships are formed between companies rather than between people.
We invite you to add other aspects of American culture below.