Life in the USA - An Immigrant's Guide to Understanding Americans

Life in the USA:

An Immigrant's Guide to Understanding Americans

by Planaria J. Price and Euphronia Awakuni 

Here’s a taste of what you'll be reading:

A Thai student is appalled because his co-worker lets her  elderly mother live alone. A Mexican immigrant is insulted when an American friend insists on "going Dutch". A Japanese tourist discovers that bath houses are very different in the US.  An Iranian student thinks all Americans are phony because they say “Hi, how are you?” and walk away before hearing how the person really is.

Immigrants and international students living in the USA, as well as tourists, often misunderstand and are confused by cultural differences. Those differences can be as subtle as how to pay on the bus, how to stand in a line, to major misunderstandings such as seeing a hand gesture and thinking it means something else or bringing their entire family uninvited to a dinner party. Because of these differences, both foreigners and Americans often incorrectly conclude that the other is rude and insensitive.  

This fascinating book, based on real student letters, sheds some light on typical American culture for foreigners, and is also interesting for Americans to see their culture through others’ eyes. This indispensable guide is perfect for new arrivals to the USA or anyone with questions about the major, troubling differences between American culture and other cultures.


This review is from

Hand this out at the border!, January 13, 2010
by James Cook (San Marino, Californa

I have lived abroad. I have sponsored green card immigrants to the U.S. In my opinion this book, or its twin, should have been published decades ago. For the person who grew up in Bulgaria or Brazil or China or Ethiopia,etc., this book is invaluable. Life in America is not like the American life seen in the movies or on TV. If you did not grow up in America, it is almost certain that daily life in America is unlike daily life where you grew up. (Just how different American daily life is from the place you grew up depends, of course, on where you lived before coming to America. If you grew up in Toronto, Canada, the U.S. may not be that different from what you are accustomed to - but if you grew up in China or Eritrea or Japan or Argentina or Russia or Taiwan, etc., the U.S. is very different.) It's different as to social customs, dating, family relationships, body language, special occasions like marriages and funerals, interacting with police and landlords and people at work. Daily life is different in America as to schools, health matters, attending parties, standing near other people, using the buses and countless other aspects of daily life.

Every university that issues a visa to a foreign student should provide a copy of this book to that student. Every U.S. embassy or consulate assisting a foreigner in moving temporarily or permanently to the U.S. should do the same. For Americans welcoming family or friends to our shores, this is the ideal gift. It is sure to be passed around, read and re-read until the binding falls off!

For the newcomer lucky enough to have a copy of this book, here's a bit of friendly advice: Make a mental note of a few parts of this book that are of special interest to you. When you meet Americans and have a chance to talk with them, ask them about something mentioned in the book. Ask "How should I handle a job interview?" or "What is a good gift for a baby shower?" or "I don't drink alcohol. What should I do or say when I am offered an alcoholic beverage?" Make new friends while learning more about "fitting in" as a fellow resident of America.


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