If you will be studying in a foreign country, it is a must that you follow the etiquette for their social norms. This keeps you away from committing a faux pas and offending any local.
In the USA, there are some etiquette tips that you should follow. Here are some of them:
Americans are very casual when it comes to names. They don’t mind getting addressed by their first name or nickname, even right away after you get introduced to them. However, it’s still common courtesy to call them by their title before their surname (e.g, Mr. Williams) unless you are told otherwise.
When talking, you should keep a certain distance. Americans value their personal space, so they may mindlessly step back if they feel like you’re standing too close. Keep in mind that physical touch may depend on the person you are with, so try to be vigilant for cues whether they are comfortable with touching or not. Additionally, Americans are known as “back-slappers,” they usually show friendly affection by giving someone a big pat on their back.
Americans are generally friendly towards strangers. If there’s not a lot of people and it’s just you two on the sidewalk during the middle of the day, sometimes a greeting or a nod is considered to be courteous especially if you happen to make eye contact with a passerby. You may also find yourself occasionally engaging in a friendly conversation with a stranger without needing to introduce yourself first, whether it would be in places such as public transits or at cashiers in grocery stores. While it is true that this type of informality can be interpreted as rude by foreigners, it is not considered as much of a deal for Americans.
If you plan to go to an American’s house, it is best to arrange a visit before going. Ideally, you should avoid bringing anyone else uninvited, unless you’ve asked them beforehand.
Americans value punctuality in particular. Call ahead in case you will arrive late to a small gathering. However, if the event turns out to be a large party, it is normally expected that some people are going to arrive 30 minutes to an hour late, especially if the host and the guests are more of an acquaintance. It can be considered socially awkward to be early in a room full of acquaintances or strangers.
When offered food at a gathering, it is okay to be a “fussy eater,” as it is not considered rude if you refuse them without any explanation.
In the end, keep in mind to avoid overstaying at an American’s home unless they urge you to stay.
Tipping is often customary in American service and hospitality industries from restaurants, taxi drivers, barbers to housekeepers at your hotel. Service workers usually rely on tips for a living given how the hospitality wages are very low compared to countries such as Australia.
For example, in restaurants, Americans usually give an extra 15% to 20% of the bill. Less or more can be given depending if they had a pleasant experience with the dining service. Leaving two dollars in your room at the end of your stay for the hotel’s housekeeper is also common. There are many other ways you can give tips, but it is usually a good idea to leave a small note of appreciation along with the tip to avoid any misunderstanding that the money was mistakenly left behind.
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