The author of this post is an international student from Cambodia currently working in the financial services industry in NYC. The post is based on his personal experience as an immigrant and from accounts of other immigrants' experiences.
I think that anyone from any part of the world can find a place in
the United States. You will never feel that as a foreigner that you
won't have access to the same opportunities that Americans do.
issues are a nuisance sometimes, but if you play your cards right, that
can be easily sorted. This is truly a great country where hard work and
smarts pay off.
A few pointers:
1. Get used to Fahrenheit, pounds, miles etc. (They don't make any logical sense and are not based on decimal conversions)
2. Tipping: You are expected to tip here. Tip 15-20% depending on the
service you receive. Must at restaurants. You should also tip cabbies,
hairdressers...but not as much as you would in restaurants.
3. Depending on where you are in the country, don't be surprised if
random people smile at you or ask you how your day is going. Just smile.
Americans are very friendly. None of this will happen if you come to
NYC though. From the countries I have visited in Asia/Europe, Americans
are the friendliest. This is not Europe — in general, people are warm
and nice. Don't be surprised if people strike up a conversation in
public transportation and restaurants.
4. If Americans ask you "How are you?" or "How is your day going?" at
the office, no one actually expects you to reply. It's just a way of
greeting people here.
5. Food: Everything is so artificial and bad unless you go to a
higher end market. Even Coke is made with high fructose corn syrup, not
real sugar unlike the rest of the world. The chicken that you get in
supermarkets is laden with chemicals, you can literally taste the
chemicals. American chocolate (i.e Hersheys) to put it very kindly, is
bad. Too much sugar in everything — and that is most probably HFCS.
6. No matter what you have heard about America in popular culture,
Americans are very well-mannered compared with the rest of the world.
Don't cut lines in this country, seriously! American drivers are also
very well mannered and people follow the lanes etc. (Again you might
find exceptions in places like NYC, but I feel like NYC isn't a very
good representation of this country) People will hold doors for you, and
you are expected to do so as well.
7. Americans like their personal space. When you talk to people,
maintain some distance. Same goes with personal issues. Don't ask people
about their personal issues and don't tell people about your personal
8. The food portions are HUGE here. You might find this shocking — I
did too — but Americans take their leftovers home when they eat out in a
restaurant. (Yuck!!!). A lot of people are fat and obese.
9. The Asian food you get here is not really Asian. It's watered down for American taste.
10. Same with Mexican food.
11. I don't even want to waste time on commenting how bad American
beer is. There is an burgeoning culture of microbreweries though.
(American beer = Budweiser, PBR, Coors, etc.)
12. Americans are actually religious. This is 2014 and a substantial portion of the population believes in god!
13. Americans are trained from a very young age to be fair. Fairness
is built into the American DNA. I really can not explain this, but
you'll see what I mean. There is a lot of trust here. Obviously things
are different after 9/11, and things are different in big cities, but
you will still find people who leave their doors unlocked.
14. Do not discuss politics here. Political discussions here are
driven by echo chambers on both the extreme left and far right (i.e.
MSNBC vs Fox). Watch the BBC to understand America. CBS is the best
American news source, in my opinion.
15. Americans are very patriotic about their country as they should
be. This does not apply to some in the far left who think America is the
source of all evil in the world.
16. If you are a foreigner coming to America after your
college/undergrad you might find this strange: There is this concept of
loyalty to the college you went to. You will not find Germans jogging
with U of Heidelberg T-shirts in Frankfurt, but you will find plenty of
people in NYC jogging with T-shirts that have the names of their alma
mater. College and universities (except the state affiliated ones) do
not get funding from the government. This is where the loyalty thing
comes into play. Ever wondered how some US universities have endowments
bigger than the GDP of many countries? It's alumni contributions. And
even the state funded ones get money from their past students.