In the USA, blending in is easier than one might expect – mostly because it is a nation founded and inhabited by immigrants. In fact, you might be surprised to know that there is no official American language (even if English is more or less all-pervasive). Languages and cultures from around the world coexist and intertwine across this varied and expansive nation, mixing with popular culture to create an individual American identity. Below are some cultural tips straight from the streets of America designed to help you tap into our unique (& sometimes schizophrenic) way of life. Enjoy!
• Hum or sing along with these three songs in the subway:
[Name 3 songs everyone knows in your native language]
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
Elton John – Tiny Dancer
Anything by Justin Timberlake (though some might not admit to it)
• Get by with the help of these five swear words:
[5 unavoidable curse-words that are commonly used in your country]
1 – Fuck (self-explanatory)
2 – Damn: one of our less severe curse words… a good one for when you miss a train, or lose your hotel key, or forget to ask the cute American girl you met for her phone number…
3 – Shit: pretty much our default swear word – one you are likely to hear frequently.
4 – Asshole: might want to refrain on calling anyone this, at least while you are new in town – best not to alienate potential new friends 🙂
5 – Mierda: yes, I know this isn’t English, but since America has no official national language, & an ever increasing Spanish-speaking population… this one (translated as ‘shit’ in English) will come in handy – especially in California and the Southwest.
** note: proceed with caution in America whenever using swear words. Generally, it is considered VERY rude to use them with people you don’t know well, or people who are outside your age range… even though you will hear them a lot on the street – it’s probably best to use them sparingly.
• Get a phone number (or a laugh) with these pick-up lines:
“I lost my phone number… can I have yours?”
“If I could rearrange the alphabet, I would put U and I together…”
• Toast to your new local friends at a bar with this word or phrase:
We generally say “Cheers!”, but if you are feeling particularly festive, “Bottoms up!” will also do the trick 😉
• How to order a Big Mac menu in your language:
I’m pretty sure “Big Mac” will get your point across – we did invent the thing after all…
• The few things you should do to feel truly local:
– Smile for no reason while walking down the street, & ask everyone you encounter how they are doing today in an enthusiastic manner.
– Get a coffee “to-go” & drink it on the street en route to your next destination.
– Drive or ride in an SUV (preferably a hybrid model if you are in a “blue state”).
– Watch an American football, basketball, or baseball game while eating a hot dog & gulping down a beer or coke from a cup equal to or larger than the size of your own head.
• Have we forgotten anything?
In America, don’t try too hard to blend in – remember that we are almost uniformly fascinated by foreigners. This means that instead of being embarrassed by it, you should embrace “cool accent” – it might even help you meet some locals!:)
If you are planning a trip to the US, here is a short video with footage from across the country to get you in the spirit: