Characteristics of Americans/American Culture

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101 Characteristics of Americans/American Culture
To help you compare and contrast what you observe of American culture and your own, mark the similarities and differences between your culture and what you have read about in this book. 1. America is enormous: the third largest country in the world with a population of more than 300 million people. 2. Americans come in all colors, have all types of religions, and speak many languages from all over the world. 3. Americans are extremely independent, individualistic, and like to be different from each other. 4. 66% of Americans are overweight; 37% of those are obese. 5. Americans believe in freedom of choice. 6. Americans need a lot of “elbow room”; they like personal space around them. 7. Approximately 1% of Americans are homeless (3.5 million people). 8. Americans talk easily to the homeless but use good judgment and are careful with whom they talk. 9. Sadly, the streets of major cities are often dirty. 10. Many people, especially teenagers, wear strange clothes, and many have tattoos and body piercings. 11. Americans follow the rule of law.

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12. Littering (throwing garbage on the street), graffiti and tagging (writing on the walls), and loitering (standing around and doing nothing) are against the law and are punishable by a fine or jail. 13. Discriminating against or making any insulting statement about someone else’s religion or ethnicity is against the law and could be punishable as a hate crime. 14. You must be over the age of 21 and you must have an identification card with a photo to buy or drink alcohol. 15. In most states, it is illegal to buy cigarettes if you are under the age of 18 and often you can only smoke in certain places. 16. Americans are extremely informal and call most people by their first name or nickname. 17. Americans smile a lot and talk easily to strangers, sharing personal stories. 18. Asking “How are you?” is simply a greeting and is not a question about your health. 19. When Americans put their hands on their hips, they are usually relaxed; when they fold their arms tightly across their chests, they are angry or very serious (or cold). 20. Americans don’t push or stand too close to anyone in line. They always wait their turn. 21. In a restaurant, the server is usually very friendly and helpful and often will tell you his or her name. 22. When the service is good, tipping is expected to be 15–20% of the bill.

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23. Polite Americans eat with one hand while the other one is under the table on their laps. 24. Usually, when friends meet at a restaurant they each pay their share of the bill or split the bill in half. It’s called going Dutch. 25. If you have guests over to your house, turn off the television, make sure your music isn’t too loud. 26. Americans have parties for many reasons. Sometimes they are held for friends to get together and to meet new people. There is rarely music or dancing at a typical American party. 27. When you meet Americans, be sure to look them in the eye, smile, and shake hands. 28. Make small talk at the beginning of a conversation. After a few questions, you will be asked, “What do you do?” (This means what is your job?) 29. For weddings and showers, people register for gifts at a specific place. 30. Americans open presents and cards in front of people. 31. Be sure you include a card with your gift. The person given the gift will send you a thank you card. 32. At an American funeral, it is not normal to make loud sad sounds. Americans try to keep strong emotions inside. 33. There is no traditional color or flower that symbolizes death. Any and all flowers can be used at funerals. 34. We do not give money at a funeral. Sometimes, we send flowers or plants to the ceremony. 35. After the funeral, there is usually a reception at the home of the family. There is usually a lot of food and sometimes alcohol.

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36. Never ask Americans a direct question about their religion, age, money, salary, weight, or...
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