Social etiquette for foreign exchange student?

I am friends with a foreign exchange student and I'm trying to come up with a list of social etiquette that's specific to American culture. For instance, I explained the "N" word to her and its historical context and that she might hear Black students at school use it, but she herself should never use it. Can anyone help me come up with others that might not be obvious? It doesn't have to be just about race but things in society in general. Thanks.

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Since I don't know where she is from, I can only be general.

    I would caution her against criticizing Americans, the US, American culture, etc. directly to Americans. Being critical in other cultures is considered acceptable and a sign that you are an independent thinker, but in the US, we just find it rude and are offended that a guest would say these things to us.

    We "queue" in this country. This means we place great emphasis on lining up and respecting your place in line. Anyone who just barges to the front has committed a huge social blunder.

    You will need to explain about tipping. I have traveled a lot internationally, and the US has the highest tipping percentage of anywhere I have been. Please help her to understand that tipping isn't really optional, only the amount is.

    If she is a smoker, you will have to explain that Americans are more anti-smoking than other countries and that she needs to be a bit more aware of where she is and who she is around when she wants to light up.

    Americans also place emphasis on personal hygiene. We might be sloppy dressers compared to other cultures, but we do not tolerate body odor, or body hair, like they do in other parts of the world. We're not that concerned with saving water, and everyone is expected to use anti-perspirant. But, she should go easy on the perfume. Americans don't love perfume--especially heavily applied--like they do in Europe, for example.

    As far as Western countries go, we're a bit prudish. She can expect to get some strange looks if she decides to change her clothes in public (without the aid of a friend and a beach towel), for example, even if the only thing people see is her bra and underwear. She'll probably understand from that comment, that going topless on the beach is not done unless you're laying face down.

    Also, I would tell her never to ask someone how much money they make. In other countries salaries are more regulated/standard and people can pretty much guess how much you earn, so they're more open about it. Similarly, she shouldn't ask how much someone spent on a home, etc.

    I think armed with that information, she'll do better than most newcomers. Hope this helps.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Sounds like you're really trying to help your friend. If she has any problems check the Committee for Safety of Foreign exchange Students for help. lots of students end up in poor host families because no fingerprint-based background checks are done and the students end up in trouble.

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  • 3 years ago

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  • 1 decade ago

    I go to ediplomat for questions like these. Here's what they have on US culture:

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    as long as she sleeps with the local lads she be fine

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