Culture Shocks in the USA - 2023
Updated: Feb 9
No matter how aware you are of American Culture through films and TV shows, you’re never fully prepared to assimilate into a new culture. And that’s not just for the US, it can be said for any country in the world.
Culture Shocks are a part of the entire Immigration process and rather than being afraid of it we should just embrace it and think of the initial phase of culture shocks as a learning of the entire settling down process.
The US is a place where people from all over the world have settled down over the years and with them, they’ve brought their own cultures. So, when someone talks about Culture in the US, it is not just about the US, it is about a mix of multiple cultures from across the world and that’s one of the most unique aspects of this country.
However, for someone who is new to the country, there are multiple things that can be disorienting for them. From small talk, to huge food portions to openly available guns.
Culture Shocks Indians face in the US
In this Guide, we discuss some of the most common and not so common Culture Shocks that Indians face when they move to the US.
Small Talk is an essential part of the American culture. No matter what the main topic of a meeting is, the initial few minutes is always spend in exchanging pleasantries and general small talk about the weather or anything else that everyone is interested in. The reason behind this is that most Americans consider directly coming to the point as impolite.
Spoilt for Choices
It is very easy to be shocked when an Indian enters an American supermarket like the Costco or Walmart for the first time. The sheer number of choices available for cereals or for that matter even milk can be quite disorienting for someone who’s come to the US for the first time.
Check out this video where an Immigrant describes her shock on the number of choices there in a store.
While a lot of people now know that American Football is different from the Football that we’ve grown up watching or playing, for some who aren’t quite aware of it, find it extremely amusing when they see people carrying the ball in their hands.
The football that we know or have played is called Soccer here.
This is probably the best and the happiest culture shock according to us. Anybody that lives in America is considered an American. Asians are Americans, blacks are Americans, Indians are Americans, whites are Americans, Arabs are Americans, Italians are Americans. People can retain their home culture, but they dissolve into the large American society and are considered a part of it, not strangers or outsiders. And this happy coincidence can lead to some disorientation who've only seen brown people around their entire life.
America’s Gun Problem
Most Indians will never see a gun store in India. But out here in the US, you can get it even in Walmart. That’s how easily accessible a gun here is in the US. And for newcomers it is not just shocking but also scary, considering the number of gun violence crimes have been in the news in the recent past.
A small daily thing that tends to wreak havoc in an Immigrant’s life is the US measurement System. For some reason, America still uses the Imperial system of measurement. This means that weight is measure in pounds instead of kgs, liquid is measure in gallons and not in liters, so on and so forth. Not just this, the way they write their dates is also different. American follow the MM/DD method over the universally accepted DD/MM method to write their dates. This has resulted in many hilarious situations.
The Cheeseburger here has a beef patty. There have been times when vegetarians have unintentionally ordered a Cheeseburger only to be later told by someone that it has meat in it. Imagine their horror
The Toilet Paper (of course)
Ok. We all know about this. But this blog would have been incomplete without mentioning it. Imagine this, there’s a section of people in the world who’ve never experienced jet spray 😊
Strangers Smiling at you
Americans are very cordial and friendly. Most Americans tend to smile at strangers on the road. New Immigrants might find it awkward initially, but we think it is a good practice and one eventually warms up to it.
Individuality & Independence
America is an individualistic society whereas India is more of collectivist society. That’s why there’s bound to be some culture shock when you first move here. Americans are fiercely protective about their independence and individuality. So don’t feel bad if you ask them a personal question and they respond with “None of your business”.
You can also watch this video that we’ve made highlighting The Cultural Shocks that people face when they initially move here. We hope you like it.
Please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and you can share the cultural shocks that you faced when you moved here for the first time.