No matter where you originally hail from, there are probably quite a few substantial differences in culture between your home country and the USA. For most new residents in the US, these differences can be a major shock to the system.
Everything from language to food, work schedules, and even how you greet someone is probably different than what you grew up with. While this can cause some serious anxiety for new immigrants, it’s also one of the most exciting parts of moving to a new country.
Information about living in the USA isn’t hard to come by, but a lot of the time it doesn’t account for those minute cultural differences. Below are five of the very best tips to maximize your time in the USA, adjust to the local culture, and start acting like a native.
1. Each State is Different
One of the most common misconceptions about the US is that it’s the same everywhere (when in reality this couldn’t be any further from the truth). New York is not the same as Massachusetts, and California is certainly not the same as Alaska.
There are so many regional differences in culture, language, food, etc., which may come as a surprise to some. Not only do cultures differ between states, but landscapes are also dramatically different. The American Southwest, for example, is drastically different than the Northeast (i.e. New England). Likewise, Montana is virtually a different country when compared to somewhere like Florida, or New Jersey.
Where you choose to live in the US will play a large role in how easy you find the assimilation process. Larger cities are more diverse, and contain a lot more immigrants than in rural areas. However, there are also a lot of immigrants throughout the entire country.
Before you choose a specific city or region to move to, it’s recommended to do some in-depth research about that area’s culture, tastes, weather, etc. to see if it’s a good fit (or not). One thing that you can’t fault the US for is its incredible amount of diversity.
2. Tipping Culture is Real
Unlike a lot of the world, tipping is expected in nearly all restaurants in the US. Not only is it expected in restaurants, but it’s also expected with certain services as well. For example, if you’re staying at a hotel, and the bellman helps you take your luggage to your room, they would expect a tip for that.
Anywhere from 15% to 20% is a normal (and expected) tip amount. Anything below that, and you might not get the best service in the future. When dining at a restaurant, it’s considered incredibly rude to not leave a tip (borderline asinine, actually).
3. Work-Life Balance
Europeans are known for taking month long vacations (sometimes even longer), and having a relatively balanced work-life relationship. Americans, on the other hand, are known for being incredibly work-centric (more so than most other countries in the world). There is definitely a culture here that appreciates (and rewards) hard work. That’s what the American dream is about after all, right? Work hard, and your dreams will come true.
The point that we want to make here though, is that most employers are only required to give you a certain amount of time off per year. Actually, America is one of the only countries in the entire world where employers aren’t legally obligated to give their employees any paid time off.
Keep this in mind when selecting jobs to apply to (and subsequently work at). Some employers treat their employees better than others, and choosing the right employer can make all the difference in your quality of life.
4. You Need to Pay for Healthcare
One of the most overlooked aspects of living in America is its healthcare system. Unlike a lot of countries in the world, America has a private healthcare system. This means that unless your employer provides you with a healthcare plan (which many do), you will be required to pay for your own insurance.
This means paying a monthly premium, as well as a certain percentage of any medical care costs (with the remainder being covered by insurance). The one advantage of this system, is that America is known for having some of the very best hospitals and medical research facilities in the world.
5. Learn to Appreciate Differences
There are undoubtedly massive cultural differences across all of the various regions, states, and cities in America. It’s important that you learn to appreciate them for their differences, and perhaps explore them.
Understanding American culture won’t take a few months, rather it will take a few years until you really start to understand the US way of life.
We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.