The typical American and the typical American culture do not exist. Nevertheless, there are some cultural peculiarities in the USA that still shape the self-image of many Americans today. These characteristics say nothing about the cultural identity of the individual. But they can give an impression of life in the USA and, for example, help international students to adjust to the country and its people.
Idea of equality
The lengthy process of founding a nation and the laboriously gained independence explain why the concept of freedom and equality is so important in the USA to this day. The principle formulated in the Declaration of Independence, “ all men are created equal ”, forms the foundation of values of the United States – even if it initially contradicted the slavery that continued until 1865.
The principle states that all human beings are born with the same rights and have the same starting opportunities. The idea of equality is reflected today, for example, in anti-discrimination measures, for example in “ affirmative action ” programs or corporate diversity principles.
Freedom and individualism
As a country located in North America according to itypeauto, the United States of America is seen as an individualistic society. The freedom to self-determination has top priority in the “ Land of the Free ”. In the United States there is a general belief that each individual is responsible for his or her own fortune and is responsible for his or her successes. While individualism is strong in the United States, many Americans are still socially engaged and volunteer, for example in the neighborhood. Many students sit in the student life into clubs and student societies for social purposes or provide community service.
The importance of personal freedom in the USA can be seen in various areas of public life. The idea of freedom is particularly strongly expressed in the US debate about stricter gun laws. Many Americans insist on their constitutional right to carry a gun. They see a ban on weapons as a restriction of their freedom and see a corresponding law as a threat to personal and public safety.
For many Americans, cars in particular convey a sense of freedom and independence. This explains why the automobile is the most popular and widely used mode of transport in the United States. Local public transport is often only sparsely developed outside of the big cities in particular. In order to be mobile, many international students buy a used car while studying in the United States. This gives you the chance to experience the limitless feeling of freedom on the highway.
Enthusiasm for sports
Whether international media spectacles like the Super Bowl, the playoffs of the four major sports leagues NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL or competitions in college sports – sport plays an important role in American society. Many Americans spend a large amount of their free time doing exercise. You are active in sports clubs or attend sporting competitions as a spectator.
Numerous sporting events in the USA are associated with rituals. For example, so-called tailgate parties often take place before football games. Before kick-off, fans meet to eat and drink in the parking lots of the venues. In many cases they are equipped with a grill and camping chairs. The Americans celebrate the Super Bowl, which is now an unofficial holiday, particularly exuberantly. Family and friends watch the spectacle together in front of the television. Super Bowl parties can be found on every corner.
Sports competitions are about values such as fairness and team play. Sport has such a high priority in the USA because it has long served as a connecting element between the many cultural groups. Since sport can overcome differences such as ethnic or social affiliations, it is an important means of integration.
Open and direct: communication behavior in the USA
Americans are seen as extroverted and direct compared to Germans. In a café or retail shop, waitresses or salespeople introduce themselves by name. At colleges and universities in the USA, it is also common to address lecturers and professors by first name.
You come across empty phrases like “ How are you ?” Or “ How’re u doin ‘?” In the USA during your studies and in your free time. These questions are not meant literally, they are a sign of courtesy. Hence, nobody expects a serious answer to it.
Small talk is common in the United States, even with strangers. This type of communication is strange to non-Americans and the reason for the persistent stereotype of the superficial American. In fact, small talk aims to get into conversation with other people and to create a pleasant conversation atmosphere. Many Americans find it uncomfortable to keep silent about one another, so they tend to small talk. It is mainly about uncomplicated topics such as the weather, sports or cars, but more personal questions about family or hobbies can also arise.
Many Americans enjoy going out with other people. That is why international students often have the impression that it is easier for them to make new contacts in the USA. However, the interest signaled at the beginning should not be misinterpreted and interpreted directly as a sign of friendship.