America is known as the land of opportunity- but if you’ve been here long, you are realizing it’s also the land of the strange- strange habits that is. I cannot say when these habits originally formed and why we continue them, but here’s some that you may or may not have noticed.
“America is known as the land of opportunity. If you’ve been here long, you may have realized it is also the land of strange habits!”
Pets: When it comes to dogs, cats, and sometimes even the livestock, pets are considered family. Pets sometimes sleep in the bed and can be found in family photos. Some people go as far as giving their pets birthday parties or even spa days. Pets can live a lavish life, especially if the family does not have kids. Some American pet owners believe that these pets bring more comfort than friends do, so logically they shower them with too much love.
Food and drinks: We’re a foodie nation, meaning we have a HUGE interest in food. The weird part is that we like our food in various sizes and we want many choices. We like the idea of endless fries, really big burgers and several options of seasonings and sauces. Same for drinks, we want the biggest cups for soda and sometimes it’s a buy-one-get-one-free deal so you end up with more. Also ice is always given because we love our drinks cool, even in the winter. As in many cultures, people enjoy connecting over food, sometimes spending hours around a table together. If you ever want to meet up with Americans, I suggest having pizza or burgers present, trust me, they’ll be there if they have nothing else to do.
Greeting others: Americans will often say “Hey! How are you?” even to strangers, but they don’t always intend to listen to how you’re doing in detail at that moment. America can be fast-paced and since people still want to be friendly, they will go ahead and ask how you are. Common responses to a quick “how are you?” are “fine” “good” “busy.” It’s not that we don’t want to hear how people are really doing, it’s just that this is part of a common greeting. With friends, it’s a good idea to ask them if they want to get coffee or a meal so you can share more intentional time together and share how you are actually feeling.
The “Go Go Go” lifestyle: Speaking of not having time, it’s not uncommon for Americans to take their coffee or meals with them on the go. We always feel like we have to be somewhere and that doesn’t allow much time to just sit and eat. More and more these days people are using quick services like: amazon with express shipping, finding someone else to walk our pets, and groceries coming to your door. Like I said, it’s a rushed world here.
Hand gestures: I think we’re aware that hand signals mean different things around the world. For example, a common one here is a thumbs up. Here it is used to show agreement or to indicate something is good or cool. However, in some parts of the Middle East, Australia and Greece it means an offensive gesture, similar to what the “middle finger” means here.
Money: When I traveled overseas and noticed that sales tax and the tip at restaurants was already included in the price I was thrilled! Tipping at casual sit-down chains generally starts at 15% of the bill and increases when the restaurant is fancier, or for good service. To learn more about how and when to tip in the U.S. check out this blog post. Sales tax is misleading, because it adds an additional fee on to the purchase price. Sales tax is paid to the government to cover their budget on schools, roads, and other expenses. So just be ready when you pay for those new clothes- that price will go up a bit.
There’s definitely more than this, but I hope this is a good start for you. Again, I can’t tell you why these things started, but I can promise that America will continue making creative slangs, memes, and systems that may or may not make sense. Regardless, we thank you for sticking with us and learning so many things in addition to earning your degree.