Coming to America is quite the journey... no matter how one gets here. There is always an immediate culture shock. You may even arrive here speaking the language but the way of life can be daunting for most. We a unique group of people. We can take some getting use to. The social norms and customs may always be a hurdle. Everyone is just always gonna do their own thing. When in doubt, ask for details.Redditor u/TrustMe_ImDaHolyGhst wanted to discuss with everyone what are some of the ways getting use to life in America can be tricky by asking..... Non-americans who moved to the US, what are some social customs that have been the hardest for you to get used to?
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According to my parents, it was people giving them thumbs up.
In their country of origin, thumbs up = middle finger in the US. So they kept jumping thinking they were being flipped off by random people. Took years for them to get used to it and understand no one was trying to insult them.
Be Car Still....
A friend of mine is Russian. Her parents came to Russia and was still getting used to America. In Russia when you are pulled over by the police you get of the car and walk over to them. Her dad got pulled over and so he got out and started walking towards them. He didn't know you are supposed to stay in the car. He learned that lesson very quickly.
Edit: He didn't die they didn't even shoot at him. He did get arrested though.
Not hugging, kissing on cheek or handshake when saying hi to family. I'm from South America.
I was an RA when some Cuban exchange students came for the summer (Canada). They reeled me in for a kiss when they showed up and I was like WTF IS HAPPENING?! Just like hauled me right in aggressively. It was cool but totally took me a while.
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I still don't know how to get invited to parties, so there's that.
Also the drug TV ads with the long disclaimers while showing video of happy people living their lives. Really weird.
What. The. Fudge.
Carpet everywhere. I thought at first I had that beige, slightly too fluffy standard issue carpet in my first apartment because it was cheap and in a sh!tty area. Moved to a nicer place, still carpet. Visited relatives who have a really nice 5BR house in the best part of town: the same carpet! Add to that what someone already posted, that people don't take their shoes off, I am still bewildered. And don't get me started on carpet at high traffic public spaces, like banks, offices, and even /airports/! What. The. Fudge.
Saying "hi how are you?" to strangers and nobody actually answering the question.
The size of food serving when going out to eat.
Thanksgiving and black friday.
And lastly, the fact that every form I have to fill out, they ask my race.
I guess these are not technically social customs, or maybe they are, but I find all of the above very strange. Ugh, I'll never get used to living here.
So many differences....
Sales tax not being included in the price (got pretty used to it after 4 years, but it still occasionally caught me off guard).
Tailgating on highway (even people complaining about tailgaters were themselves often tailgating).
Porch sitting, people sitting on their porch and watching passers by.
Distances (drove coast to coast, I thought it would never end).
Most men being pretty knowledgable about cars.
Drive thru ATMs, never stopped being funny to me for some reason.
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Pounds. Ounces. Feet. Miles. I could never get the hang of it. I just still don't even have a concept of how long a mile is, and I lived in the U.S for 3 years. I completely acknowledge that I'm dumb, though.
Younger Ppl calling adults by (just) their first name. I'm from the Caribbean so can't help but referring to ppl as Mr or Ms. Even if Im familiar with them.
I was taught this growing up, but I learned pretty quickly to drop it. So many people come from divorced families that assuming a parent had the same last name as their kid caused a lot of awkward situations.
A Woman's Way
As a woman when I first moved to the US, I felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn't do my nails, or color my hair, or wear makeup like my friends did. The way I grew up, women who were not celebrities didn't do stuff like that at that frequency. I felt like maybe I wasn't feminine enough because those things seemed so tied to femininity.
Edit: To clarify, of course I don't think every single American woman is like this, it was just that I didn't know a single woman personally that did those things growing up, perhaps it's different now.
Not THAT Word!
Only lived there for five months for exchange. I'm from Scotland, and we use the word c*nt often as a term of endearment. You will know when it is NOT being used as a term of endearment, it's all about tone.
My first week in the country I went to a house party where I said c*nt casually in conversation. I'm not joking when I say everyone stopped their conversations and stared at me. One girl was properly glaring at me and then told me to apologize to the person I was talking about.
Cue my Australian friend starting to piss herself and the both of us having to explain to a room full of people that it wasn't meant offensively.
Not exactly the hardest social custom but I just thought it was funny.
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My immigrant wife has had to learn not to publicly state any broad generalizations whatsoever about racial/ethnic groups. Such things are commonly said in other countries but are less acceptable in the U.S.
2 Countries in 1....
Don't need to be from outside the us. I'm from the south and going up north is a culture shock.
Everything in the south is so ungodly slow. Northerner here and the weirdest part of traveling the states is how in the south people seem to be really nice but kind of generic about it. In the north we're kind but it is more "let me help this guy out" instead of " oh this guy's cool I'm gonna be really nice". I've lived in the north for some time and I don't think I could ever live south of Nebraska because of the culture.
The importance of working, being "productive," and being in a position to continuously generate revenue. I am a medical researcher and have been doing this for about 15 years in the USA now. To this day it bothers me that I have to justify the need for my research in terms of healthcare costs. For example, when writing grants or presenting research proposals to higher-ups: "Pathology ABC impacts 100000 people in USA each year, and as a result of this patients suffer a lot." - this should be sufficient, right? Nope!
What I'd write instead is something like: "Pathology ABC impacts 100000 people in USA each year resulting in expense of NNN dollars to the healthcare system and additional losses of MMM dollars associated with missed work and productivity." If the research study involves athletes, you've hit pay dirt. Accounting for all those missed seasons, practices, etc. is such a strong selling point. It does not stop there though. Any study involving longitudinal follow up now more often than not asks patients to provide information about their work status before treatment and periodically up to 1, 2, 5, or even 10 years out.
This so that drug and device manufacturers can boast about how quickly their patients are able to return to work and being productive. It would be nice if the system incentivized genuine, intense focus on value of life and value of quality of life. I have worked in other countries before and do not recall having to pay attention to expenses in this manner. It may have changed within the last 15 years though.
How hard it is to make friends in the USA. It seemed pretty easy from where I came (Europe), but after 20 years in the USA, I still don't have friends here.
Unless you two absolutely hit it off during the first conversation. Then you're allowed to be best friends. If there's one thing about you that doesn't match their way of life, they are most likely to end it quickly.
It used to not seem that way growing up before smart phones and social media. I think those two things have ruined how people communicate with each other.
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Town and school spirit are a very big thing here. No one takes high school sports this seriously back in my old school in India.
I'm from New Zealand.
Lack of vacation days.
Weird as crap health system tied to employment.
Otherwise it is a pretty easy adjustment.
The taking themselves seriously thing is very interesting and I agree. Nearly every American I speak to seems to have a really strong internal narrative, as if they and their lives are part of a movie/television show. I recognize this isn't the most useful way to describe this impression I get but it's also the truest.
Walking into someone's house with your shoes on.
And waving, everyone waves. Wasn't sure why. Did they think they knew me? Did they need help?
I think the waving is more a sign of goodwill in America. I do it a lot when driving or using a crosswalk to signal a thanks to the person letting me cross or pass them. I hope this helps!
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Very attentive customer service. It felt almost psychotic.
Oh trust me, as an American in the service industry... it's an act. We have to act nice to you or lose our job. Internally we could often care less how your day is going, and would often prefer you never came in.
Where to Begin?
My wife is an immigrant so I'll pass on a couple that she struggled with.
Potluck dinners. Inviting people over to your house for a meal and then telling them to bring the food just isn't culturally acceptable in her background. She understands how the variety of foods can be exceptional and the amount of food automatically adjusts to the number of people, but it's a cultural form of hospitality that runs counter to offering what you have to your guests.
The way many American families raise their children until age 18, then send them out the door to make it or beak it in the world. In many other countries, you never stop helping your children by paying for more education (Vo-Tech or college/university) and trying to avoid student loans, they always have a place to live free of rent, and are quite involved in everyday life of the parents, even if just by phone.
The way Americans are so informal in addressing elders and people with the title "Dr" seems disrespectful. Titles would always be used and first names are only for people of approximately the same age and background.
Women have many freedoms and professional opportunities that are not open to them in some countries. This is a good attribute of the USA.
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The key to any successful relationship is communication.
The ability to be open and receptive to what a significant other has to say, as well as the ability to be able to convey something weighing on one's mind, can be healing.
But depending on the circumstance, some things are better left unsaid.
Curious to hear examples of what those might be, Redditor FamiliarFarmer8356 asked:
"What's something you wish you could tell your partner without upsetting them?"
If there is conflict, there is a way to discuss and address the issue in a civil and respectful manner.
Things Just Happen
"Every bad thing that happens doesn't require someone to be blamed for it. And that someone doesn't always have to be me."
A Cornerstone Of A Successful Union
"One of the cornerstones of a good marriage, is knowing how to argue. I’d actually say that before a couple get married, they should check how their potential partner behaves in an argument. What are they like when they get angry. It’s important because no two individuals are going to agree all the time. And on those occasions, it’s important to remember not to belittle the other. Deal with the issue at hand. And especially, don’t argue in front of the kids. You have no idea how much lasting damage this causes."
"All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest - never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principles of equal partnership."
It's Not That Deep
"please stop complaining about everything."
"If you keep seeking out reasons to be miserable, you will find them."
"I'm tired of being dragged down with you."
There's no need to get defensive when there's something to discuss.
It's Not About You
"That some days I’m just tired from class and work and just want some me time, it’s not that I hate you my social battery is just running out."
"Her first reaction to something adverse doesn't have to be anger."
In The Words Of A Pirate
"In the wise words of captain Jack Sparrow sometimes:"
'the problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude toward the problem.'
It Takes Two To Tango
"That I wish she’d be more independent so she didn’t need my help for everything outside the house."
"That it’s a little disturbing how aggressively he drives when he’s grumpy… heavy on both gas and brakes, zooming in and out of traffic, swearing at people who make mistakes… very unlike him."
Sometimes the truth hurts when talking about members of the family.
A Real Assessment
"That her mother is not a good person."
"I told my husband that it's not that his family is nosy and overbearing, it's that I hate watching him cave and negotiate as if they have a right to behave like this, and I really hate when I'm the bad guy for wanting reasonable limits."
"It got worse, then it got better, FYI."
"His parents are greedy, selfish people and treat him like an atm."
There's definitely a fine line between withholding your thoughts to protect the person you love and being brutally honest.
If coming clean isn't going to resolve an issue, then it might be better to suck it up and deal with whatever frustrations you have about the other person.
It's up to you, but make sure the delivery doesn't come from a place of rage if you do decided to be totally transparent about your negative thoughts.
Every family has a black sheep or every family in its entirety are black sheep.
What is a "black sheep" anyway?
It used to mean a person who brought shame or embarrassment to a family, but it's more often used now to mean the member who is just very different from everyone else—sometimes in a good way.
Redditor Frozen_yoghurt123 asked:
"Who is the 'black sheep' of your family?"
I'm the black sheep or at least I'd like to think so.
"Probably my dad's cousin, who went to prison for murdering his lover's husband."
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"My Dad. He is the only one of 6 siblings who wasn't a huge f**k up. And yet, before my Grandma died she stated that he was her 'biggest disappointment.' He is estranged from his surviving siblings... not by his choice. It honestly blows my mind."
"Toxicity is often a group mindset thing; people don't want you to leave because they are dysfunctionally co-dependent on each other and need each other to justify their own shortcomings in life. A lot of the 'family loyalty' stuff is typically shouted loudest by those who are the least good idea to stay loyal towards."
"My great uncle who stole my great grandfathers identity, stole a couple million dollars, and ran off. No one even knew he was alive until my great grandfathers funeral in 2009. No one has seen him since. My grandma started to cry because she honestly thought he was dead."
"Everyone else just kind of nodded on his direction and went on with the rest of the funeral. I just remember being very confused because I was 9 and I had never met this guy who my dad pulled me aside and told me he was my great uncle. It was a few years later that I got the full story."
"According to my mean aunt, the 'matriarch' in her own mind, it's my twin brother because "he doesn't care about family now that he's a doctor." (He's a resident. Chief resident. He works ridiculous hours and spends the rest of the time recovering from work.)"
"According to my ex-MIL (who still counts because she's Son's grandma), it's me, for divorcing her son."
"According to everyone else, it's Mean Aunt. The rest of us are warm and caring and compassionate. We have our moments; all of us have been accidentally thoughtless or done something selfish once in a while, but we're not deliberately mean and snarky all the time."
"My immediate family are the black sheep of the entire family."
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Sounds like everyone has a little black sheep in them.
"By now, my brother for cutting off everyone because he prefers his rude, selfish, paranoid, narcissist wife over all of us."
"My wife is the black sheep of her family in the sense that she's the only one who isn't a rude, selfish, paranoid narcissist."
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"Me. My granddaddy told me 'I’ve only had the sheriff knock on my door two times in my 80 years, and both times he was looking for you! 'I did some dumb sh*t, caused a little trouble, burned a few bridges but always managed to stay out of jail. Partly because my sister has kept an attorney on retainer for me since I was 16."
"My younger brother (2nd of 4) is a compulsive liar and it got him in a lot of little trouble as a teen, then he told his wife he graduated a big college when we're not even sure if he got his GED because he failed to graduate HS, went to some GED school and eventually just stopped going."
"IF he graduated college, he never mentioned he was going in the 4+ years it takes nor mention graduation or have a diploma. He's not a bad dude, but now family time is super awkward when he and his wife are talking about 'their' college team."
The NOT good girl...
"My aunt's daughter. She’s been in jail for drugs, stolen money from my aunt and other family members to use on drugs and physically abused my aunt. My aunt has tried getting her help, but nothing has worked. She’s just not a good person, and everyone in my family, except my aunt, doesn’t want anything to do with her. I haven’t seen her in 8 years now, and I’m happy about that."
"A former nun - my great aunt - left the religious life and got married. She called herself 'the black sheep of the family' because her habit was black."
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Well the black sheep sound like the most interesting family members.
Sex is great, but there are more ways than one to accomplish that euphoric feeling without sex.
There are so many small, ordinary aspects of life that can just send a person and we come across them daily.
A good steak.
A home repair.
The things that make you say...
"I tingle all over."
Redditor OldAboba asked:
"What is the best non-sexual physical feeling you’ve ever felt?"
Adele. Adele live. She sends me.
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"I got a professional full body (everything but my man parts) massage a few years back for the first and so far only time at a spa after the recommendation from a coworker. I felt like I was floating on a cloud for the next few days."
Through your nose...
"Sneezing when you're sick. Then you get that about 20 second feeling of breathing through your nose again and you like ahh that's what I aspire to at the moment."
"Or the very last sneeze of your illness. During a fire drill in high school, I was ambling out after fighting a head old for a few days. The alarm was killing my head which was already throbbing from the sinus pressure."
"I was nearing the field, well away from my classmates, when I cough/sneezed out a huge, green loogie - cleared it about three feet, no icky trail - and by the time I was walking back to the building I was feeling pretty much back to normal. No more head cold after that. Never had something like that ever happen again where there was such an abrupt end to the head cold."
"Right after a migraine goes away. It's almost a spiritual experience."
"This was going to be my answer. I was in the ER one time for a really bad migraine. They gave me what they called a 'migraine cocktail.' When they pushed it through the IV I could feel the cold liquid make its way through my body, up to my head. Once it hit my brain, the migraine was gone. It was pure ecstasy. Even better was that cocktail had Benadryl in it so I fell asleep not long after and slept so good."
"That stretch til you shake when you wake up."
"I once stretched too hard in the morning and got the worst calf cramp ever... it looked like a prune and I thought I would die from the pain. Couldn't stretch in bed for months afterwards out of fear it would happen again."
"When you move over 50, it turns into that stretch til you put your back into a muscle spasm that lasts days."
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"I had a cast and splint on both my legs for 2 months. When they cut it off, they scratched my legs for me and the itch was just top notch! Yeah."
Itching an itch can change a life.
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"When you're starving all day and devour a bomb a** meal."
Sleep for Life
"When you’ve been up for 20 hours+ and finally get into bed and you just know it’ll be the best sleep of your life."
"But man, after 36+ hours, the body sort of aches and it's hard to fall asleep despite being completely exhausted. Then the restless legs kick in... ugh. I do agree that a 20hr-ish stint is amazing to cuddle into, especially if you don't have to get up at any specific time the next day."
"Makes it better when you’ve been sleep deprived for weeks and know you have NO PLANS tomorrow and can sleep as much as you need."
"When you're absolutely busting for a pee and you can finally go!"
"Apparently there’s a thing called a 'pee-gasm' that people (usually women) have that causes an orgasmic feeling when you pee after holding it for a while! I’ve definitely experienced this and I’ve intentionally waited a while so I could have that good feeling... lol."
I Can Hear!!
"The feeling of water leaving your ear after being there all day."
"I had some impacted earwax for a week in one ear, and when it finally got removed it was the best feeling in the world. Initially it was like having a tv or radio in my ear that only had static, but then I could hear. Good god, I could hear. It was amazing."
"Oh man, and it’s WARM from being in your head, and the warmth makes the sensation of leaving even better."
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"Sleeping in a warm blanket in winters."
"Or sleeping in a cold blanket in summer."
I am enthralled by all of those things.
People need to stop throwing out unwanted advice.
And when it is requested, think before you speak.
People with mental disorders don't need everyone telling them they have a fix like "exercise" or "herbal supplements."
Redditor Gold-Ad-2827 asked:
"People with mental disorders: What do you hate being told the most?"
I hated being told to just smile. You smile and go away.
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"It's all in your head. Where else would it?! My colon?"
"Everybody goes through that."
"This saying makes my blood boil. Or the 'I was that age once too ya know' yeah no sh*t you were that age once. And just because you were that age once doesn’t mean we have the same experience."
"They try to minimize it."
"You're worried? Just stop."
"You're sad? Just don't be."
"You're compulsively binge eating? Eat less."
"Thanks for that stellar advice."
"Or even better, 'Just do it!' As if ADHD paralysis can be stopped with a can-do attitude."
"I get so frustrated when people treat the idea of 'holistic medicine' as some kind of woo. How does it escape so many people that the body works holistically? Even a lot of doctors seem to ignore this. It's very frustrating when you have 2 or 3 or 4 illnesses that are all affecting each other, and your 'physical health' is held distinct from your mental health, and nothing anyone is doing to treat you works because no one's looking at the whole system."
"I just got a lecture from a psychiatrist I am seeing about nutrition, and he apologized to me for doing so but I told him, 'No, I appreciate it. Do it for all your patients.' because it told me he's trying to look at the whole picture and actually fix what's wrong. It gave me faith in him."
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"You need to calm down."
"Never is the history of calm down has calm down ever caused anyone to calm down."
Calm down. I hate that one. You calm down.
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"When they try to give me tips on what to do, like bruh as if I didn't already try that."
"You don't look sad. No crap... that's so I can avoid having this conversation. Also depression isn't 'being sad' like people think."
"God, I hate this. It's because saying 'I'm depressed' has been standard for people expressing that they're slightly unhappy about something dumb like not getting enough croutons on their salad or some crap. Now that's just what everyone assumes you mean when you say you have depression."
"'Stop being lazy.'"
“'Lazy' is when you don’t want to do anything at all. 'Executive disfunction' is when you can do everything at all, but that one easy quick thing that you do want to do just makes you and your brain freeze completely days ahead. I’m tired of people not understand that even when I explain and look at me like I’m bullshitting instead."
Ways to Cope
"Maybe you should try praying harder. I did, He prescribed medication."
"Praying is a way to cope for a lot of people, I think. That's totally fine, but insisting on praying in lieu of getting real help or actually addressing the issue is when it is not only unhelpful, but dangerously detrimental."
"Religious people will bypass everyone’s cultures, identity, views, and feelings just to be right and make a point. it’s disgusting. I read somewhere that real so called Christianity is all wrong. The real faith is from the Aramaic history and all the meanings were misinterpreted and the stories and all were made up by Catholics wanting to control their people. Yuck."
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"As someone with OCD with a lot of attention to 'contamination', having someone try to explain contradictions in why I'm doing something that is technically unclean when I wouldn't do something that is technically clean due to OCD. There are a few doorknobs that I will not touch no matter how much you clean them in front of me and I know it makes no sense, if it made sense I wouldn't have OCD i'd just be cleanly."
Stop trying to be an armchair therapist. Be empathetic to people first.