A Comprehensive Guide to American Culture Etiquette: Ease Your Academic Life

Farina Khan

American Culture Etiquette

With being one of the most diverse cultural countries in the world, the USA is also a preferable choice for overseas education. The primary problem which arises after moving to any city in the country is related to the cultural etiquette of the country.  If you are planning to study in the United States, you should be aware of what to expect and be prepared for cultural shocks in America

Many international students studying abroad in the USA have several preconceived notions about American culture and etiquette. With the help of this blog, let’s explore the cultural etiquette of the country.

Understanding Étiquettes

Etiquette is basically a style of living or a set of rules to live life. The etiquette showcases the values and ideals of the country depicting the way of living. The etiquette varies from country to country. It becomes mandatory to understand the culture and etiquette of the country before moving to that country. Talking specifically about the USA, the country is pretty laid-back about minor etiquette rules. Let’s explore and dive deeper into the cultural etiquette of the country.

Before moving to the USA, there are American values you need to know. Also, watch this video before settling and moving into American culture.

Basic Etiquettes

Basic etiquette is a set of rules that must be followed in any or every country. These etiquette rules don’t depend on the country or place. Some of them are under.

  • Never ask about weight or age, especially in the case of women.
  • Questions about salary, wealth, cost of things etc. are perceived as interference in privacy.
  • Never communicate with strangers before introducing yourself.
  • If you are smoking and someone coughs, take it as an indication to extinguish the cigarette.
  • Always use a toothpick instead of using your hands.
  • Always be on time, whether it’s an informal or formal meeting.
  • Never skip people in a queue.
  • If you and another person arrive at the same time, offer them to step first.
  • Stop elevators for someone who is close behind you.
  • Never speak loudly on cell phones in public places.
  • Choose your clothing according to the occasion.

Dining And Eating Etiquette

There are several etiquettes which need to be done while dining. Check out the important ones.

  • Always be polite to your server.
  • Always keep the conversations light.
  • Your order pricing should always be according to your companion.
  • Don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu if you are with someone.
  • Napkins should be placed on your lap and kept there during the meal.
  • Wait until everyone has been seated and served before eating. 
  • Dishes are usually passed around generally in homes.
  • Americans use cutlery to eat food unless eating certain fast foods.
  • Hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand when cutting food.
  • Do not cut up all the food on your plate at once.
  • Always chew your food with a closed mouth.
  • Burping is seen as rude, not as a compliment to the cook.
  • Americans have a more casual form of hospitality.
  • Burgers, sandwiches, and pizza are eaten with hands, instead of utensils.
  • Americans don’t spend much time cooking and savouring their food. 
  • Guests may accept second servings when offered.
  • Children will frequently be seated at a separate kids’ table.
  • Avoid taking calls on the dining table.
  • Most Americans eat three times a day. 
  • Always be the first to tip your server.
  • Hospitality wages in America can be quite low. 
  • Americans usually tip 15-20% of the cost of the meal as a general standard. 
  • The tipping price may vary according to the service and quality of food offered.
  • Bellhops or valet parkers, taxi drivers, hairdressers and barbers also expect tips.

Classroom Etiquette

Being an international student, you should be aware of classroom etiquette to avoid any kind of embarrassment. Check out these basic classroom etiquette.

  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Be seated when the professor arrives.
  • Be seated when the professor calls your name.
  • Try to ensure maximum attendance.
  • Try to understand notes, rather than memorizing them.
  • Check with your faculty before having something in the classroom.
  • Smile back to the people having eye contact with you.
  • Greet stranger classmates with a smile.
  • Try to maintain friendly relations with the professor.

Meeting Etiquette

If you are planning to meet someone, you need to follow some meeting etiquette. Whether it’s a formal meeting or an informal meeting, Check out the below-mentioned set of etiquette.

  • While meeting someone for the first time, Don’t initiate a hug or kiss.
  • Initiate your meeting with a handshake.
  • After a handshake, you should greet them with a smile.
  • Don’t get too close in the first meeting.
  • Don’t start with personal details unless they ask for it.
  • Keep the conversations simple and light.
  • Let the other person break the ice.
  • You may ask for social media details or contact details, if interested in carrying a relationship.

Dating Etiquette

If you are planning to date someone, you should explore various things like how to initiate, how to move further and how to date. Check out this set of rules.

  • When a person says, NO, they mean NO.
  • If a woman is dressed in revealing clothes, it is NOT an invitation for men.
  • It is not always the man who asks.
  • Women can initiate the dating process as well.
  • Always plan your date like Hollywood romantic movies.
  • If you are not compatible, feel free to say NO.
  • A date is not an invitation for sex.
  • Sex without consent in the USA is an offence punishable by law.

Personal Hygiene Etiquettes

There are some basic etiquettes to be followed irrespective of the country you are moving to. Here is the list of important ones.

  • Never spit in public.
  • Tap water can be used for drinking purposes.
  • Shower every day and wear deodorant.
  • Shave legs and underarms regularly, if you are a girl.
  • Always flush the toilet after use.
  • Dispose of toilet paper in the toilet.
  • Please ensure to wash your hands after using the toilet.
  • Ladies’ sanitary items should be put in the trash can.
  • Americans blow their noses with tissues and dispose of them in a trash can.

Also, check out this blog, if you are planning to study in the USA:

10 Biggest Culture Shocks in America


Should I stand and greet when the professor enters the classroom?

No, the culture in the USA is quite different. There is no need to stand and greet the professor as and when he enters the classroom.

Am I allowed to eat during classes?

Generally, there is no restriction on eating during classes. But, It is basic etiquette to enquire, if the professor allows you to eat in the classroom.

Do Americans prefer to be called by their first name?

Indeed, You can call them by their first name. However, It is a basic etiquette to prefix the title with the first name. Be mindful that, Using “Sir” and “Madam” are not common in America.

The United States of America is one of the most preferable choices due to its quality education and diverse culture with welcoming nature. Above mentioned are a few of the most important United States etiquette and culture, you must know before flying. Also, don’t be afraid of the culture shocks in America because the friendly and welcoming nature of the locals will allow you to adjust easily.

For booking the best accommodation abroad to start your study abroad experience you can contact Fly Homes at 1800572118. 

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