Things to Know about American Culture:


There are few notable differences between Americans and people from other countries. Understanding these basic differences will enable you to better adapt to your new culture in the US.

Getting along with Americans Friendships, Relationships

Best way to start a Friendship/Relationship in the college is by taking an initiative to participate in social or educational programs, picnics, parties, athletic activities or by joining organizations that are based on common interests (sports, hobbies) and by volunteering activities in organizations.

Everyone in the campus often seem very friendly, even when you first meet them. This friendliness does not always mean that the person is looking for a relationship. In general, many of the students in the school are pleasant and professional. Being polite is important in this culture, and sometimes they may keep being nice to you even if they do not wish to pursue your friendship.

Things to remember in day to day activities while in/out  campus

Shaking hands- Shaking hands is considered as a nice gesture when you first meet someone.  In informal situations, such as a campus party, peers may simply say hello, nod or wave.  A handshake tends to be more formal. In general, please avoid physical contact with strangers.  A pat on the back or a hand on someone’s shoulder is usually uncommon in US. Hand holding, physical contact between same sex is interpreted differently in the US.

Names and Titles – American names generally have three parts: first name, middle name and last name. In most cases the first name appears first, then the middle initial and then the last name.

  • First names are usually used with people of your own age and status. If the other person is clearly older than you, you should use Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms., and the last name.
  • Any faculty member can be addressed as Professor or Dr. Last Name. Or you can ask your instructors how they prefer to be addressed.
  • Using nicknames is fairly common among Americans. If your name is too long and difficult to pronounce, you can have a nickname that could be a shorter version of your own name. This is often referred to as american version of your name.

Gift Giving- If you are invited to a party or other celebration, it is expected that you will bring a gift. If you plan on giving cash, the amount depends on relationship with the host.If you wish to give a gift when you leave to return to your home country, the best gift is something that is unique to your country. Possibilities include a book about your country, an inexpensive handicraft or piece of art, or something else that reflects your culture or reminds you.

If you owe a debt of deep gratitude to an American host family, a common way of repaying is to treat them with a ball game (basketball, baseball, football, Hockey) or a good restaurant.

Tipping -The words “tip” and “gratuity” are used interchangeably. Restaurants do not include a service charge in the bill. It is a best practice to tip the waiter 15% of the total bill. If service was not good, u can tip only 10%. Likewise, if service was particularly good, it is appropriate to tip 20%.

All service providers expect this as well. Taxi drivers, maids, barbers and so on.

Business Clothing -Proper business attire is extremely important in the US. And it is needed to attend any official events on/off campus and also increases your chances of succeeding in an interview. It is always recommended to have at least one suit for men consisting of a formal jacket and conservative tie with a light colored button-down shirt. Women too should have at least one pair of formal wear. The goal is to achieve a professional look.

Punctuality is another thing to keep in mind. Never arrive late to an appointment, it will reflect badly on you. If you know that you will be arriving late, you should let the other party ahead of time about the delay.

Sexual Harassment –Sexual Harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other physical or verbal behavior of a sexual nature. If you feel that you are being sexually harassed it is important that you let proper authorities know about it. Please understand that once you file a formal complaint, you are signing up for a lengthy and frustrating process.


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