Understanding Your New Culture

Photograph "Statue of Liberty" by Phil of Photos, available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/philofphotos/249220155/sizes/m/in/photostream/ under Creative Commonsn Attribution

Everywhere you go in the world, you encounter a new and different culture. Countries and continents have their own unique characteristics that make them special, but even towns and cities can have their own unique ways of life.

For those traveling to America, the differences in culture are uniquely special. Because the United States was founded on the principle of inviting as many different cultures into one location, there are so many different ideas and practices in one place. And because people come to the U.S. to enjoy the many freedoms that the country offers, this nation is one that possesses a few important principles that are shared similarly throughout its diverse culture.

Meeting the People

To start, we must always introduce ourselves with greetings. The first thing to remember is that most Americans do not greet like many other cultures. A wave and a handshake are the common limits to any physical interaction that new Americans express with strangers and even acquaintances. Open handed waving is popular when trying to get attention or say hello at a distance. Handshakes should always be firm and offered with the right hand.

Greetings usually continue by telling others your name. In many countries (“The name’s Bond, James Bond”) starting with your last name first is common. But in America, your first name is given when being introduced, and people rarely say their last or full name unless requested. Don’t be surprised when others simply state their first name and move on with the conversation.

The American culture is very business-oriented, and many people value time as a precious resource. Here, staying in contact is crucial to enjoying life to its fullest. There are so many different communication services, but many times they will charge exponential fees for contacting outside of the country. International phone services have the ideal advantage in a situation like this, allowing you to stay in contact while staying financially efficient on cost-saving international calls.

As for the common greetings in the American culture, the questions: “How are you doing?” and “How are you?” are like saying hello in a polite way. A person asking these questions isn’t necessarily looking for in-depth and detailed answers. Commonly, the best response is: “I’m doing well, how are you?” in order to reciprocate with politeness. After that, the conversation is likely move on to the nature of your meeting.

Relationships are somewhat unique in America. Men and women are friends on an equal level, spending time with one another eating, meeting up, and even enjoying fun activities together. However, this does not imply that there is a romantic relationship between them.

The Attitude of the American Culture

While the culture is a conglomerate of different people with different practices, one of the most profound things that many immigrants may notice is the attitude of Americans. Possibly their most renowned characteristic is being direct when speaking to others. The freedom of speech is one belief that is openly practiced, and there is very little taboo when it comes to conversations. Americans love to converse about a variety of topics such as politics, relationships, feelings, and even the weather or sports. The culture seems to have the talent for talking, and loves to share it with others. However the nice thing about the culture is that you don’t necessarily need to say anything of your own. You can talk, and you don’t have to engage in any conversation you don’t feel comfortable with.

Culturally individual

In many cultures throughout the world, several generations of the same family live under the same roof or remain physically close together for their entire lives. In America, this is very different. Students travel across the country to learn, and eventually move away in search of work and their own personal pursuits. This may lead them to relocate to entirely different cites or states.

Much of the American culture strives to achieve individualism and pursue their dreams. For this reason, traveling is a big part of their lives. Getting on the bus, airplane, or packing up the car is very important to the culture, especially when reuniting with family members who are at great distances.

The most important characteristic of the American culture is that every place within the country has its own unique set of characteristics. If you find yourself in the northern areas, individuals will act, speak, and even think differently from the south. Those in the east won’t be the same as those in the west as well. But, we all share something in common- a land of diverse cultures that is always willing to let someone else add into the mix.

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