The United States is the most diverse country in the world. People from all over the world have immigrated to the United States. Therefore, it is very difficult to define a typical American, as there is no such thing. However, a majority of the current Americans are of European descent; therefore, the description below is primarily with that in mind.
Most Americans work hard during the weekdays and look forward to weekends. They plan for weekends in advance. For many, weekends may mean shopping, laundry, TV, movies, going out with friends or relatives, outdoor activities, or watching sports.
United States Is the World
Since the United States is a large country and it is geographically disconnected from most of the world (except for Canada above and Mexico below), to most Americans, the United States is the world. If something/someone is biggest, best, largest, or richest in the United States, they generally use the phrases like “biggest in the world” or “best in the world.”
Most Americans are fans of various sports. In fact, the most popular sports in the U.S. are played within its borders. For example, an Atlanta team plays a New York team. A U.S. team doesn’t typically play an Australian team. They still call it a “world championship” for domestic sports.
Most Americans take pride in their country and consider themselves patriots. Therefore, never make fun of the U.S., speak lightly about it, or make derogatory remarks about the country or their social/cultural background.
It is generally easy to adjust to American society and its people. However, don’t try to be too friendly or personal with them too soon. Americans value their privacy a lot. Don’t just show up at someone’s house without first calling and making an appointment. Even if someone says “come over at any time,” don’t take it literally. You still have to follow etiquette. If a person wants you to visit their home, they will call you first and specify the date and time.
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Most Americans like to have fun and want to enjoy their free time. Many engage in activities like going to the gym to exercise, going for a walk, jogging, biking, hiking, etc. Most love natural surroundings and the outdoors.
Most Americans are impatient yet disciplined. No one likes to wait in line and they are easily frustrated. Yet most Americans wait in line patiently without pushing people or trying to jump ahead.
In a conversation, you should give continuous feedback to the other person, or at least nod continuously. In absence of that, the other person might think you aren’t really interested or that you’re confused.
If you happen to bump into someone or vice versa, you will promptly hear an “excuse me.”
Most people who are just passing by will smile at you and/or say hello. This is formality, and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Smiling is simply a goodwill gesture and does not mean anything beyond that.
Never make any racial comments about anyone, e.g., blacks are called “African Americans” in politically correct language.
Life in the U.S. is generally fast-paced and busy. It is all about making money. People don’t want to waste time on anything, even eating food. That is why the U.S. invented fast food and is the largest consumer of fast food.
Most Americans think that there are primarily three types of people in the U.S.: American citizens, tourists, and illegals. They don’t know much about the middle spectrum, such as temporary workers (H1, H4, L1, L2 visas), international students (F1, F2, J1, J2 visas), or green card holders. They won’t typically know about people on I-485, EAD, etc. All of these people are legally here in the U.S., and most stay and work just like anyone else.
Your experiences may vary. Some people may not differentiate you between an American citizen and someone on a work visa. If they ask about it, give a polite, brief explanation. They will often be very friendly and help you feel less like a foreigner. Other people may have the inappropriate view that any ethnic person with brown skin is an immigrant taking away their jobs. They may treat all ethnic people the same, whether they arrived yesterday or have been here for three generations. Try to be more diplomatic in handling situations with these types of people.
Most people wear casual outfits for day to day wear. They are not fond of an overabundance of jewelry, and gold jewelry is rarely seen. No one really cares what others are wearing.
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Impression of Other Countries
As the United States is the “world” in their eyes, most people may not have an accurate impression of other countries. Most people are not aware of the happenings outside the U.S. unless the U.S. is directly involved. For example, most people knew about the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq only after the 9/11 tragedy had occurred. Because of the poor, inaccurate, and inadequate media coverage, they may not understand the social and political climates of countries even as big as India. If at all, television shows images of India with cows on the street or poor children crying in villages. Most Americans think of India as a poor country full of beggars, snake charmers, and, more recently, call centers. Therefore, some people may be genuinely curious about your country. You may even be asked questions that seem very silly to you. If you are asked questions like whether there is a TV in India, or whether there are cars in India, try to explain very respectfully. You should also try to explain that India has intelligent people and an advanced culture. India does not just represent elephants and snake charmers. You can even tell them that snake charming is currently illegal in India.
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