« American lifestyle » could be the title of a blockbuster movie and probably that you could imagine what you would find in it. American culture has almost taken over the world. It’s hard to think of a country where there are absolutely no famous American companies/brands. Sometimes they change the name and adapt it to a specific culture as well as the offer. However, the concepts remain the same. It won’t be surprising to hear that many worldwide trends are born in America and then spread over the world. But, it’s not because you listen to American music and eat their famous burgers that you could consider yourself living like an American. Their lifestyle is much more than that.
The American Time
Punctuality is very important in the American lifestyle. You will be expected to arrive at your appointments on time or a few minutes early. You may have in mind those tech companies from Silicon Valley where employees play table soccer during breaks. This is not every American employees’ life. Usually, people have exact times for arrival and departure. They will arrive on time and work hard. Delays are acceptable only if you warned the host about the reason why. You should apologize then and when you arrive, even for informal, non-work related gatherings.
Walking like an American
It’s true that the obesity rate in the USA is among the highest in the world. However, it does not mean that Americans hate sports. They actually love to go on walks. The preferred time slot for a walk is early in the morning or after dinner. Some of them even step it up and go jogging or running instead. Whether it’s a walk or jogging, you will probably find those Americans close to public parks, walking trails, or sidewalks in residential areas. Of course, there is still a part of the American population that rather watches TV or is just too busy to go walking. No judgments, everybody’s free to do what they want: it’s America!
If you wish to live like an American there are a few social rules to follow. First, you should know that it’s considered inappropriate to just show up at someone’s house even if they’ve told you before “come anytime”. You must always check with them about their availability and set a date and time for the visit. Always! Moreover, it’s nice to give them a call when you’re on the way. Other little things worth knowing when you’re in public: don’t hold hands unless you’re intimate with that person because that’s what people would believe. Also, don’t talk too close to someone and speak softly with a low voice so as not to disturb anyone around.
Nowadays a typical American family consists of a mother and a father not necessarily married, with up to 3 children and usually a pet too. Both parents work, and after high school graduation children are expected to leave home to live an independent life. However, they will all gather a few times a year for family celebrations like thanksgiving or weddings. Lately, the number of single parents has increased as well as the number of divorces. In the USA people can get married several times and create stepfamilies.
Unlike in some Asian cultures, in the American lifestyle people generally are very courteous. You should open the door for others nearby to let them pass first. The person should thank you and you will answer “you are welcome”. However, this is where the courteousness ends. If you are shopping, picking up a package, or applying somewhere, you are not expected to let others go first (unless it’s a fragile person). Everyone waits in line for their turn.
Americans work hard during the week so weekends are “me time”. Most gatherings and night out are planned for weekends. Social and leisure activities too. Millions of Americans spend their Sunday watching American football games. For two days you should forget to work. Your colleagues and superiors would not expect you to call them unless it is an emergency or required by your profession. Because Americans only relax on weekends, most festivals are usually organized from Saturday to Monday.
In the American lifestyle, you would only visit someone’s home if you are invited. It could be just for a snack or for a big occasion too. People always bring gifts to the hosts but you choose what you want to offer. Keep in mind the occasion to know the “what” and your relationship with the host to know the “how much”. Some will open the gift and others won’t. There is no rule. If you are invited for a meal like a dinner, the main point is not the food but the people. Therefore, arrive a bit early and leave a bit late to have the most conversations.
Some rules of the American lifestyle don’t always match with what is presented on some American TV shows. It’s because fiction remains fiction. The American culture is even more than just calling the host before you arrive at a party. It’s also about their language, religion and values. About the language, take note that expressions and slangs are very important!