The concept of family is different in the U.S. compared to countries like India. Most American families consist of a mother and father with an average of 1-3 children and many times a pet such as a dog or a cat. It is very common in most families that both the mother and the father are employed full time and are at work, while their children are at school or a daycare facility. There are a large number of families in the United States that consist of one single parent and children as a result of divorce or being unwed. In most families, once the child has become a teenager and graduated from high school, he or she leaves the home and leads an independent lifestyle. Most families, regardless of where they are located, will all get together to celebrate family occasions such as weddings, reunions, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays.
In the U.S., the parents of an adult person are not considered their dependents or part of his/her immediate family.
Some people get married and divorced several times, or even have children out of wedlock. Relationships are sometimes confusing. It is not uncommon to hear phrases like “she is my father’s wife” (not necessarily the mother), “he is my mother’s boyfriend,” or “he is my son’s father” (not necessarily the husband).
Most Americans are very punctual. Most people arrive exactly on time or a few minutes early for an appointment. Although most high tech jobs don’t require exact arrival and departure times, most people at most jobs arrive on time and work hard during their shifts. If there is an unexpected delay, it is customary to inform the other party by calling them about the delay and apologize immediately upon meeting.
It is sad that many Indians don’t accept this concept of being on time in a non-work related environment. Most people are late to social gatherings like parties or dinners.
Going for a Walk
Going for a walk is quite popular among Americans. Usually, people go for a walk during the early morning hours and after dinner. Many people don’t go for a walk because they feel they’re too busy or prefer watching TV or other activities. Some people also go jogging and running. Walking or jogging is usually done in public parks, at sidewalks in residential areas, or walking trails.
Many people prefer to go to the local gym to stay physically fit. Gold’s Gym is a very popular national chain.
Keep in mind that you can’t walk anywhere you like. If you walk at inappropriate places (such as highways), the police may issue you a ticket and fine.
It is inappropriate to just show up at someone’s house. You must first call and ask them whether they are available at a particular date and time. If someone casually says “come any time,” please don’t take it literally. If that person really wants you to visit, they will specify a date and time. Unexpected visits are not appreciated, except in an emergency. Even if you’re invited at given date and time, as a courtesy, you should call the host and inform them just before you leave so they can estimate your time of arrival.
In India, people of the same sex hold hands or touch shoulders as a gesture of friendship. Never do that in the U.S. If you are male and hold another man’s hand or put your arm around his shoulder, you might be considered gay. Also, unless you have an intimate relationship, you should keep your distance even from the people of the opposite sex. At the office, in public, and at home, people keep a comfortable distance while sitting next to each other. People speak softly and with low voices. In general conversation, your voice should not be too loud. Have the same manners while talking on the phone so you don’t disturb those around you.
Generally, you will only visit someone’s home if you’re invited. It may either be a general visit or for snacks, lunch, dinner, or for a party. It is customary to bring a gift for the host. Of course, the nature of the gift would depend on the occasion, and the value of the gift may depend on your relationship with the host.
Some hosts may open the gift right away and express gratitude, while others may open the gift later.
If you are visiting for dinner, you may want to arrive early for drinks and conversation. Don’t leave immediately after dinner; instead, stay for further chat.
In case you are invited to a party, it is customary to inform the host before leaving the party.
Whenever you visit a public place, it is generally considered courteous to open the door for others nearby to let them pass through first. It is even more important to do so for ladies. The person who you let through first will generally say “thank you,” and you say “you are welcome.”
Of course, if you are waiting in line to buy something (at the post office, grocery store, etc.) or to apply for something, you don’t have to let others go through first. Everyone waits their turn.
Most people work five days a week, typically Monday through Friday during the day. Saturday and Sunday are collectively called the weekend. Most people work hard during the weekdays and enjoy the weekend. Most social activities, sports, and other non-work related outings are scheduled during the weekend, e.g., a football match would typically be on Sunday. Many people use weekends to do household work like laundry, cleaning, getting groceries, etc. Of course, people also do leisure activities such as swimming, boating, bowling, hiking, or skiing, depending upon individual interest and geographical location. Many people watch movies either at theaters or in the comfort of their own home. Millions of Americans spend Sunday watching football games five months out of the year (when the sport’s season is active).
Generally, you are not expected to work during the weekends. Of course, it depends upon the individual’s profession. You wouldn’t call your colleagues or superiors for work-related reasons on weekends unless it is urgent or required as part of work.
Most American festivals are mostly scheduled around weekends or Mondays. Even Indian festivals that are traditionally not set up that way are celebrated during the weekends. People celebrate Diwali, Holi, etc., on weekends. Even the Navratri festival, which is supposed to be for nine continuous nights, is celebrated over three weekends, three nights each.
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