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Cultural norms you may not know when moving to the US

Cultural norms you may not know when moving to the US

America is known for its politics, movies, music, wealth, power, landscapes and so much more. What you may not be familiar with are the cultural norms. If you are moving to the US to live and work, there are a few things you need to become accustomed to.

Cultural norms are things that Americans do that may seem weird in other countries. As you embark on this new and exciting journey, you might find it useful to know the following information - information about American customs that describes some points that may be different from your culture.

Popular destinations

The number of tourists visiting the US annually is around 80 million. The most popular destinations include: The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls (although this is in Canada), The Statue of Liberty, The White House, Disney theme parks and Las Vegas.

Eating out


Waiters and waitresses get paid only a few dollars an hour. Minimum wage is 8 dollars an hour, but many can get as low as 3 dollars an hour. To make up for this, people who go to restaurants will usually tip 15 – 20%.

Large portions 

Americans often prefer large and luxurious. The food portion sizes in the US knock the nail on the head! When you go out to eat, think BIG! It’s a cultural norm to have large quantities in America – you might know the saying “Everything is bigger in Texas”. It’s also not uncommon for someone to order a sizable meal and then take the remainder home as leftovers. This is also known as a “doggy bag”.

Eating on the go

Most Americans are always on the go. From busy work schedule to picking up the kids, it may seem that there are never enough hours in a day. When people go to a drive through, they normally eat their food in the car – in the parking lot. It is also normal for people to eat their lunch while walking the streets or drinking coffee while waiting in lines. Although this seems uncommon to other people, in America it’s normal to eat at your desk/in your car/ walking or literally anywhere.

Hectic schedules

Besides eating on the go, many people order food subscription boxes that get delivered to their home each week. This includes ingredients that are portioned out, as well as the recipe. Due to the busy lifestyle in America, this is a convenient way to cook from home without having to do the shopping.

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for Americans to eat out several times a week. In addition to bringing lunch from home, many Americans get take-out for lunch or go out to lunch every day.


An interesting fact about living in America is that tax is not included in the price you see on a product. You have to do your own calculation when checking out – which can become quite confusing. This is done so people know how much the actual product costs and how much goes to tax.

Date and numbers

You may know this already, but Americans write the date differently to other countries. They write the month first, then the day and then the year - instead of putting the day first. This can become quite confusing when you are accustomed to a certain way of doing things.

Even when it comes to numbers – the Americans do not use the metric system, which is very strange to foreigners.

Americans are friendly

It’s not uncommon for a stranger to greet you and strike up a conversation while waiting at a bus stop, in line at a store, or in an elevator. A lot of Americans participate in what is called small talk - where you make conversation with strangers or acquaintances about non-controversial topics, such as the weather, sports, or popular television shows.


Amazon is your best friend in America. It is used to purchase almost anything and everything. It is normally cheaper than in-store and gets delivered to your door. If you don’t know your way around, consider Amazon when you need to shop.

Sports and tailgating 

Many Americans love and follow sports, the most popular being football, baseball and basketball. Tailgating is an elaborate pre-game party where people open the boots of their car and mingle with others. It often involves drinking beers and barbecuing. It's classic American culture and an important part of being an American football fan.

Let us know if you found these facts interesting! But if you really want to experience the USA, consider applying with Greenstaff Medical, and we can help make your American Dream a reality! Click HERE.