Culture & Society

10 Things to Know About U.S. Culture

Reading, of course, will not immerse you in culture. If you really want to tour the United States, apply for an American internship to see the country while also advancing your profession!

It will be exciting and interesting to live in a new nation, but it will also be an adjustment. You might be thinking to yourself, “What does this term mean?” Similarly, in response to some American traditions, “Why do Americans do that?” Before you arrive, we’ll go over some of the most important things to remember about Americans and American culture.

A woman stands in front of Mount Rushmore in North Dakota
Consider the possibilities.

Whereas other cultures value practicality, compactness, and conciseness, Americans favor huge and lavish spaces. Don’t be surprised if you see huge vehicles and SUVs strewn across parking lots. Americans value their own space. Large can be useful to them. When it comes to American cuisine, think big: most restaurants serve fairly huge amounts. It’s not uncommon for people to have a large supper and then take the leftovers home with them.

A cheeseburger and french fries

Restaurant entrees are sometimes designed to be shared. It’s fine to ask your waitress what portion size they recommend if you’re going out to eat and aren’t sure. However, there is a counter-movement to the “bigger is better” mentality. Many people, particularly young city dwellers, are purchasing environmentally friendly vehicles, shopping for locally grown and healthful foods, and attempting to reduce their consumption and waste as much as possible.

The “to-go” notion entails eating on the go.

The majority of Americans are always on the move. They appear to be constantly rushing from one appointment to the next, commuting to and from work, picking up children, running errands, and attending business meetings and social events. Because Americans are constantly on the move, they rarely have time to sit down for a traditional dinner. “There aren’t enough hours in the day!” is a typical phrase you’ll hear.

Americans going around with coffee mugs, beverages, or food packaged in to-go containers may surprise you. People will most likely be eating pizza on the street (particularly in New York City) or sipping a cappuccino while waiting in line at the bank. Drive-thru windows are ubiquitous at fast-food restaurants around the country; according to DoSomething.org, 20% of all American meals are consumed while driving. Because many Americans don’t have enough time to sit down in a café and enjoy a cup of coffee or relax for a few minutes while eating a snack, they frequently order food and drinks “to go.”

Taking a meal out or getting takeout

Americans dine out not simply to save time and money, but also because it’s fun! The United States is a melting pot of diverse cultures, which has resulted in a wide range of delectable food alternatives. Americans can try new cuisines and food variations by dining out. Pizza, Chinese, Japanese, or Mexican food can be found in even small American towns. Restaurants dedicated to Ethiopian, Brazilian, or Afghani food can be found in bigger cities. It’s crucial to remember that people’s behaviors change with time. Some people rarely dine out, yet Americans are known to eat out multiple times per week. Many Americans get take-out or go out to lunch every day, in addition to packing lunch from home.

Two men at a New York Giants football game at MetLife Stadium

Sports

Many Americans like and follow sports, with football, baseball, and basketball being the most popular. You’ll notice that one key difference between your own nation and the United States is that soccer has a considerably lesser fanbase in the United States than in other countries. Sports have the power to both unite and divide Americans. During football and basketball season, your employees may engage in heated disputes about whose team is the best. Football is entertaining to watch but can be difficult to understand; nevertheless, you can seek assistance from your American colleagues. You could even comprehend why the 2017 Super Bowl was watched by over 100 million Americans!

Competition

Americans, like many other civilizations, thrive on competition. Children are taught to work hard and do their best from a young age in order to excel at a task, notably in academics, athletics, and other activities. Universities are notoriously competitive, so parents should start preparing their children for the admissions process as soon as possible. Some high schools and even pre-schools have competitive admissions policies, while Girl Scouts compete to sell the most cookies during fundraising drives in order to win fantastic prizes. You’ll see that many Americans are also ambitious. They are proactive, and if they set their minds to anything, they follow through. They don’t inclined to wait for others to catch up to them.

Four men play basketball in an arena

Political Correctness (or “P.C.”) is a term that refers to the practice of being politically correct.

Because the United States is so diverse, it is customary to always respect different cultures and people’s differences, particularly while discussing and expressing views. Regardless of whose organization you work for, an underlying rule is to avoid using terms or expressions that could be regarded as offensive. Your coworkers may be of all ages, genders, and colors, and political correctness is a means to ensure that everyone feels at ease in the workplace.

Talk of the Ordinary

Many Americans engage in small talk, which involves engaging in non-controversial conversation with strangers or acquaintances about topics such as the weather, sports, or popular television shows. Don’t be surprised if a stranger asks you, “Did you watch the Super Bowl last night?” when you’re waiting for a bus, in line at a store, or in an elevator. What a contest!” They might also make a joke about how long you’ve both been in line or make a comment about the current scenario. Small conversation is supposed to be lighthearted, so it’s not acceptable if a stranger says something that makes you feel uneasy.

Independence

In the United States, being self-sufficient is highly appreciated. Many American children and teenagers spend extended amounts of time away from home, usually for summer camps or travel. Many Americans pick colleges and institutions outside of, and often far from, their hometowns after graduating from high school. For two to four years, college students live on their own or in residence halls with other students, and many move away from their childhood homes following graduation. Most Americans no longer live at home with their family beyond 17 or 18 years. They also shop, do laundry, cook, and pursue vocations or studies on their own.

on their own.

The idea of being self-sufficient and being on your own is valued highly in the U.S.

  

Diversity

Because its inhabitants come from so many diverse backgrounds and cultures, and there are so many varied views, values, and customs, the United States is sometimes referred to as a melting pot. There is no such thing as a typical American, which is part of what makes the country so fascinating! Customs differ from one location to the next and from one family to the next. If you’re asked to a cookout in California, it might entail grilling on the beach; in Texas, it might entail a barbecue competition in a park; or in New York City, it might entail a block party in the middle of the street. So get out there and immerse yourself in the traditions of your host town!

A smiling group of friends from diverse ethnic backgrounds

Taking the Lead

Americans are recognized for speaking up and generally going for what they want, both in and out of the workplace. You might be shocked to learn that Americans, particularly in the workplace, are not hesitant to express their opinions. While your supervisor is your boss and should be treated with respect at all times, it’s perfectly OK to ask a question if you have one. Your employer would appreciate it if you told them if you needed more information on a project. While there is a distinction to be made between speaking out and being subversive or disrespectful, it is acceptable to speak up!

This is only a rudimentary introduction to American culture! If these facts piqued your curiosity, read about culture in the United States from a Career Training USA participant. Reading, of course, will not immerse you in culture. If you really want to tour the United States, apply for an American internship to see the country while also advancing your profession!

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