Author Topic: Culture shock across America  (Read 5409 times)

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that_one_girl

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Culture shock across America
« on: March 13, 2013, 08:59:33 AM »
I saw that we have a Guide for people who travel to other countries, but is there one here someplace for those who move around in the US?   

LibraryLady

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2013, 02:29:32 PM »
I think as in all things, that if one is courteous to others, they will be courteous back.

1.  Don't go in saying - your way is stupid, my way is better.
2.  See how other people act, then act accordingly.
3.  Don't make fun of accents, actions, traditions, dress,  food.  Remember, YOU are the one who "tawks" funny, not them.


I am sure others can add to the list, this is just off the top of my head.

Oh Joy

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2013, 02:40:21 PM »
I would suggest that visitors not be surprised at the amount of unsolicited small talk at stores and such.*  DH (not from the US) is still amazed that strangers make conversation about items for sale, or ask for help reaching something on a higher shelf, or just make eye contact and smile or comment about innocuous topics like the weather.  But he's learned to appreciate it...and even initiate it!   :D


* Of course, this doesn't apply to all regions or places.  Taking cues from those around you is almost always a good idea.

WillyNilly

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 03:36:43 PM »
Be polite and observe local customs, ask if you are unsure. But don't go in with prejudice.

I am a NYer, as were my parents before and at least one set of grandparents and great grandparents. I love when people move to NY (or come visit) but it does sting a bit to hear someone say they don't plan to live here forever because "obviously" its no place to raise kids, or to hear people who have lived here for years express now that they are married they "have to" move because they want to raise a family (implying one can't in NYC).

It also stings to hear people moved here but are constantly afraid of crime (we have very low crime) or express shock that everyone wasn't rude like they thought they were going to be. Or worse to witness people move here and be rude themselves and then explain they came here so they could be rude, because all NYers are rude and they thought it would be the culture here (its not, NY is consistently rated a very polite place - we are simply very fast paced, which can sometimes be misconstrued as rude, but its not the same thing).

kherbert05

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 11:44:35 PM »
Laws and customs can vary across the country.


For example in Texas cities as well as the state can add sales tax. So the rate can literally be different depending which side of the street you are standing on. (Are you in Houston, Hedwick Village, or Harris County for example? All three met up when I was in HS and all had different sales tax but you had to picking at details to pick it up.


Listen to locals - if they tell you to take shelter or evacute for the love of everything DO IT. Don't tell Gulf Coast people that a Hurricane is "just a little squall" (Happened to my Dad once)


Honestly after reading some difference of opinions here I would get a driving manual from every state I intended to drive through. For example in Texas if you have to go significantly slower than the limit and are on a HW without an access road - you turn on your hazards. Other people have posted that in their state they would assume you were stationary. (I even turn mine on in some School Zones because the other traffic isn't slowing down and I'm afraid of getting hit or a kid getting hit.)


Try the local specialties - You might find you like grits for breakfast. Kolaches are great and BBQ varies all across the country.


Basically for all travelers - treat everyone you meet with respect.


Years ago I was on PEI, running errands for my Nanna. This included picking up some stamps. I handed the lady exact change - but she told me they X more because of Taxes. I simply appologized for my assumption. She asked me why Americans always assumed there was no tax on postage. I explained the whole States can't tax federal things rule.  We ended up having a great conversation.
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Sophia

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2013, 12:02:04 AM »
Not in the Culture Shock brand, but I did read a book that served a similar function.  It was for Women business travels in the U.S.  It explained the quirks in each place.  I remember the one for Dallas (or maybe it was all of Texas.  I am in the Dallas area) was to always carry a cardigan in summer.  Seems silly to people until they've experienced the excessive air conditioning in some public areas. 

Danika

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2013, 12:23:50 AM »
I've lived on both US coasts as well as in the center, and one piece of advice I have is not to assume someone from somewhere else knows what your abbreviation or term means.

For example, when I lived in Massachusetts, I met a girl who said she was from "San Jose." Very few of us knew where that was. And there are several cities with that name, we weren't sure (by her looks) which one she meant and which country.

Some people say they're from "NE." New England, or Nebraska? If you're near one or the other, you might assume they mean that one, but if you're not, you will just be guessing.

People who live near San Francisco call it "The Bay Area." But when you're far from California, and you say "I'm from The Bay Area" you might get a question like "Chesapeake Bay?"

Promise

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2013, 12:34:12 AM »
Each region has its own words and language too. In Indiana if you eat at noon it's called dinner and a meal at  5pm is supper. Travel up to MI and it's lunch and dinner. In IN and MI fizzy drinks are called pop while in IL it's soda. If you visit the UP (upper peninsula) in Michigan, you'll think you were in anther country. People in MI show their hand with the thumb on the right to point to a location because MI is basically shaped like a hand. Words are pronounced differently everywhere. I pronounce the word p/a/r/k/i/n/g but my husband says p/a/r/k/e/n. My mom says r/u/f and I say r/o/o/f since I lived out of state for decades.

that_one_girl

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2013, 11:30:56 PM »
All of this is great information and it really helps!
I'm just nervous 'cause I grew up all my life on the West Coast, and lived a good while in the South.   It's easy to figure out what to do and say in both those places, but this East Coast has me stumped.  I worked as a cashier and was chewed out for saying "ma'am" to one lady, but then other people will say it's rude not to use "yes ma'am and no ma'am"

violinp

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 12:06:12 AM »
All of this is great information and it really helps!
I'm just nervous 'cause I grew up all my life on the West Coast, and lived a good while in the South.   It's easy to figure out what to do and say in both those places, but this East Coast has me stumped.  I worked as a cashier and was chewed out for saying "ma'am" to one lady, but then other people will say it's rude not to use "yes ma'am and no ma'am"

I've been told that many people have only experienced in a snarky context, and thus get upset at someone saying, "Yes, ma'am." There are also people who get offended at being called "ma'am" or "sir," because it means they're old. Then there are the people who just think the terms are too formal. So, it's a lot of things with the people who don't like/hate those terms.
"It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends" - Harry Potter


kherbert05

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2013, 06:42:18 AM »
Second the idea of layers along the gulf coast during the summer. Public spaces tend to be refrigerator cold.


Going with that don't stand there holding both doors of the "air locks" open. They are there to reduce the loss of cold air outside.


Air locks are double sets of doors going into a building.
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camlan

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2013, 08:01:46 AM »
All of this is great information and it really helps!
I'm just nervous 'cause I grew up all my life on the West Coast, and lived a good while in the South.   It's easy to figure out what to do and say in both those places, but this East Coast has me stumped.  I worked as a cashier and was chewed out for saying "ma'am" to one lady, but then other people will say it's rude not to use "yes ma'am and no ma'am"

It might help if you consider the East Coast as three separate regions of the US, not just one. It's my impression that the three West Coast states have more in common than the 15 East Coast states do. Not that the cultures of the three states are identical, but that they share more common factors than the East Coast states do, on the whole. 

There's New England: (Maine, Vermont (which I'm counting even though it has no coast line), New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Then there are the Middle Atlantic States:  Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C.,and New York. And the Southern Atlantic states: Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. (Although some put Virginia and West Virginia in the Mid-Atlantic--I could not find a consensus on this).

Each region has its own culture, shaped by the people who settled there, the terrain, history, economics, etc. We've even had a war over the differences between the states. So, yes, saying "ma'am" will get you kudos in some areas and dirty looks in others.
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that_one_girl

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2013, 08:20:59 AM »

Each region has its own culture, shaped by the people who settled there, the terrain, history, economics, etc. We've even had a war over the differences between the states. So, yes, saying "ma'am" will get you kudos in some areas and dirty looks in others.

CRUD MONKEYS!
This makes SO much sense!   I work in a real touristy town, so maybe it's the locals who like it when I say "ma'am" to them, and the tourists who are offended by it?

PastryGoddess

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2013, 03:00:18 PM »
All of this is great information and it really helps!
I'm just nervous 'cause I grew up all my life on the West Coast, and lived a good while in the South.   It's easy to figure out what to do and say in both those places, but this East Coast has me stumped.  I worked as a cashier and was chewed out for saying "ma'am" to one lady, but then other people will say it's rude not to use "yes ma'am and no ma'am"

It might help if you consider the East Coast as three separate regions of the US, not just one. It's my impression that the three West Coast states have more in common than the 15 East Coast states do. Not that the cultures of the three states are identical, but that they share more common factors than the East Coast states do, on the whole. 

There's New England: (Maine, Vermont (which I'm counting even though it has no coast line), New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Then there are the Middle Atlantic States:  Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C.,and New York. And the Southern Atlantic states: Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. (Although some put Virginia and West Virginia in the Mid-Atlantic--I could not find a consensus on this).

Each region has its own culture, shaped by the people who settled there, the terrain, history, economics, etc. We've even had a war over the differences between the states. So, yes, saying "ma'am" will get you kudos in some areas and dirty looks in others.

I'm a lifelong Marylander who's family is from NC and points south. I identify closely with the traditions of the southern atlantic states.  However, if someone's family is more northern, then they may identify more strongly with those states.

Sometimes we play nicely with the states north of us and some times we get along better with the states south of us.  And Northern Virginia (NoVA) is nothing like the rest of Virginia

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Culture shock across America
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2013, 12:38:51 PM »
I've lived on both US coasts as well as in the center, and one piece of advice I have is not to assume someone from somewhere else knows what your abbreviation or term means.

For example, when I lived in Massachusetts, I met a girl who said she was from "San Jose." Very few of us knew where that was. And there are several cities with that name, we weren't sure (by her looks) which one she meant and which country.

Some people say they're from "NE." New England, or Nebraska? If you're near one or the other, you might assume they mean that one, but if you're not, you will just be guessing.

People who live near San Francisco call it "The Bay Area." But when you're far from California, and you say "I'm from The Bay Area" you might get a question like "Chesapeake Bay?"

I got annoyed with someone once.  They were not from Maryland and when asked where they were from, they said "The city." No state mentioned, just "the city."   Other person says "Oh, Baltimore?"   

"Ugh, NO!! New York!"   Um, with all the states and all the big cities in the world, you can't assume that when you say "The city", especially when not in your home state, that people are going to automatically know which city you're talking about.

Now if I knew someone was from Iowa and they said "Oh I'm from the city." I'd guess either Des Moines or Cedar Rapids. 
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