NYU's Guide to "Getting to Know Americans"

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    Apr 04, 2011 4:44 PM GMT
    Lots more at the link - including talking about individualism, informality, cultural characteristics, materialism, the role of women, egalitarianism and more:

    http://www.nyu.edu/life/student-life/international-students-and-scholars/beyond-nyu/cultural-issues-/know-americans.html

    Many observers from abroad have the impression that friendships among Americans tend to be shorter and less intense than those among people from other cultures. Because Americans are taught to be self-reliant and live in a mobile society, many tend to avoid deep involvement with other people. Further, Americans tend to "compartmentalize" their friendships, having their "friends at work," "friends at school," a "tennis friend," and so on. Americans often seem very friendly even when you first meet them.

    Following are some suggestions from other international students on how to make American friends:

    Be patient if Americans are ignorant of some aspect about your home country. Use the opportunity to educate and share, just do so in a polite and brief manner.

    Seek out Americans who are at leisure, such as eating in a cafeteria or sitting in a lounge.

    Consciously commit yourself to spending time away from your compatriots to be with Americans.

    Be persistent. Persevere through the disappointments with superficial interactions.

    Observe their focus on themselves, rather on than their families.

    Know what topics Americans like to discuss. In a university setting, these usually include classes, professors, homework, music, clubs, movies, sports, and vacation plans.

    If an American invites you for a meal or snack in a restaurant, s/he might expect you to pay for your food. Do not assume that s/he will pay for you just because s/he invited you.

    Learn more about the United States and its culture. Read the following section to get started.


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    Apr 05, 2011 2:22 AM GMT
    Sad, but true.
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    Apr 05, 2011 10:44 PM GMT
    Lots of good, yet true, information. I find the part about us compartmentalizing our friends spot on! However, the references about Americans typically having shorter, less intense friendships, superficial interactions and the focus on one's self is disheartening but often true.
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    Apr 06, 2011 6:50 AM GMT
    I'm surprised no one posted a "be patient if Americans are ignorant about their own country" response.
    Good work RJers.