For several international students, studying in America brings the excitement about living in and learning different cultures. Most international students prepare for this journey by understanding the level of cultural differences that they will come across in the United States. For your convenience, we listed below the top 5 things that international students should know about American Culture.
The history of America is deeply entrenched in the concept of individuality and independence. Americans value distinguishing themselves from every other set of people, this is evident through their directness and bluntness when expressing opinions. This is quite different from most cultures whereby openly speaking about their personal beliefs is not really encouraged. Americans feel that it is their right as an American.
- The Way You Address People
Americans do not have a conventional custom for addressing people of different social age or positions. Most Americans talk to each other by using their first names. And when addressing someone with a title, e.g., Professor or Doctor, it is more proper to make use of their title when talking to them. For example, “Professor John, how are you?” Most time when meeting someone for the first time, you would have been informed earlier on how to be addressed. It is very important to have in mind that addressing people by their first name might seem informal, but it is not a sign of disregard or disrespect, but it shows your understanding about equality in relationships. If you are unsure, it’s always OK to address the person by title or ask how they would like to be addressed.
- The Value Of Time
You would have probably heard the phrase, “Time Is Money”. Americans strongly live by this, they treasure their time a lot. In America, it is known that when there is a meeting at a specific time, they expect the meeting to start at that exact time. Arriving at the meeting 10 minutes later, without notifying theperson you are meeting beforehand, is not acceptable socially and will be considered an impolite action.
- Working Ethics
In the USA, workers put in more hours to work than any other country, except South Korea. Most Americans judge the level of success by the hours spent on work, school or any project. For a full-time job in an average work week, the working period is 40 hours. However, in most industries, there is a common expectation to still work more, especially at the beginning of one’s career. And for schools, there is also the same mentality of working very hard so as to graduate and get good references from the professors when building your resume.
- Personal Hygiene
Americans love to be very clean and smell nice always. Body odor is considered to be very unpleasant. In every store or supermarket in America, there are various and enormous fragrance products ranging from personal deodorant, air fresheners, cologne, and perfumes. However, using too much perfume is not desired either.
Culture shock is normal. However, knowing and understanding the basics of American culture before studying in America will make your stay worthwhile and will also serve as a guide for the diverse experiences while living in the US.