Cultural differences between the United States and other countries (Did you know that…?)

by Anthony Gutierrez, Mechanical Engineering ME student

Are you ready to be amazed and laugh at the same time? Some of these cultural differences I’ve found myself after moving to the United States and others I just Googled. 🙂

  • Did you know that in most of the countries in Latin America, people throw the toilet paper in a trash can and not in the toilet? This is because most of the governments say that the toilet paper could clog the pipes (Funny story, my first roommate was American and he freaked out when he saw me doing it hahaha.)
  • Did you know that in the United States apart from saying hi, it’s very common for people to ask you “how are you? Or, “how is your day?”, even though they don’t know you? I know what you are thinking “isn’t that polite?” and the answer is: yes it is! So don’t feel uncomfortable and don’t be afraid of asking “how is their day?” too, you might end up making a new friend.
  • Did you know that Americans usually consider that the week starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday, while in Europe and Latin America it always starts on Monday and finishes on Sunday?
  • Did you know that when you have to give a date in the United States, people always put the month first and then the day? Just so you have an idea, virtually every other country in the world puts “day-month-year” instead of “month-day-year”
  • Did you know that in the United States you would be expected to show up to a meeting, work, date, event, party, or to class at the agreed-upon time? In contrast, in cultures that have more relaxed expectations about promptness, such as most of Latin America, people and public transportation are more likely to be running late and it doesn’t look bad.
  • In the United States and other European countries, using direct eye contact is accepted and considered to be a sign of attentiveness, honesty, confidence, and respect for what the other is saying. In some Latin-American, Asian, and African cultures, the opposite is true. Direct eye contact might be considered aggressive. In these cultures, avoiding direct eye contact is a sign of respect, especially to elders or authority figures (You got me! I Googled this one hahaha.)

For those who haven’t experienced winter before (like me!):

  • Did you know that during winter, the highway department will spread salt (usually black) on the road to melt the ice? So don’t be afraid if you see a big truck throwing some weird black “sand” in the front of your house (I’m speaking from experience.)
  • Did you know that during winter, the air gets so dry that it’s really hard for electrons to move and your body starts to build more static and creates a shock when you touch anything? So don’t get scared and think that there is something wrong with your body (again, I’m speaking from experience hahaha.)

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