American Culture, Life at KU

What International Students Find Surprising About the USA

Welasian_pointer_guy.jpgcome to the USA, the land of the 50 states and countless surprises.

Maybe you’ve read what an Indian international student found surprising about studying in the USA. It’s a really interesting perspective on how things are different in Pittsburgh compared to Mumbai.

Here are some things we’ve noticed that international students are surprised about when they study in America.


Americans don’t share the same experience

Studying here, you’ll meet people with a wide variety of experiences, personalities and political beliefs. There isn’t one standard American experience because our culture has many sides and our society has many layers. Whatever you’ve come to expect based on media and anecdotes, prepare to be surprised.


Americans tend to be private about grades

In general, American students keep their grades to themselves and professors won’t widely share information about other students. While studying here, it will help to adjust your mindset to focus on yourself instead of comparing yourself to other students.


Americans love variety

donuts.jpgTurn on cable television and you’ll find hundreds of channels to watch. Walk into an American supermarket and you’ll have to choose from dozens of brands of snacks, coffee and more. The USA was founded on freedom, and you’re free to give yourself time to adjust. Try new things but don’t feel like you need to try them all at once.


Americans value being on time

If you’re showing up a party, it’s okay to be “fashionably late.” But you need to be punctual for classes, study groups and even meeting up with friends. In the USA, your professors will be offended if you show up late to class (and your fellow students will be annoyed by the interruption). Part of college is adjusting to adult life, and being on time is considered good manners.


Americans give cash tips

Providing a tip or gratuity is standard for many services. In general, tip about 20% for restaurant staff, taxi drivers and people who give haircuts. That’s because they rely on these tips to supplement their modest pay. If you’re unsure about whether to tip, ask your American friends.


Americans think bigger is betterMultistacked burger

Huge cars. Absurd portions of food. Americans even love their tourist attractions to be big. Embrace this love of big things by greeting American culture with a large serving of enthusiasm.
It’s not just about ordering enough dinner for two people back home. It’s also about the huge opportunity for education and fun you’ll find while studying internationally.


Americans don’t really haggle

While negotiating prices is common in places like marketplaces in Asia, it’s not a common behavior in American shops. While there are some exceptions, like at yard sales, often goods or services in the USA have a set price upfront, and it’s considered rude to haggle.

If you thought this article was cool and informative, check out these other articles on American culture:

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