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Cultural differences between living in the USA and UK

When you have decided that you are moving to another country, you will want to be able to fit in as soon as you possibly can once you get there. However, if you are making the move from the UK to the USA, you will need to consider all of the cultural differences that are present between the two countries – or you run the risk doing something seriously wrong once you get there. This article will take you through some of the key (and some light hearted) cultural differences between the UK and USA that you really need to know.

Holidays
If you are used to the English holiday system, including their bank holidays, then you may be confused when you realise that holidays aren’t celebrated at the same time. In the USA, you will have things like Labor Day, which is the first Monday in September, and Thanksgiving, which is the last Thursday of November – and has a similar festive meal to England’s Christmas. You are likely to find that US holidays are much more patriotic than the UK’s, with parties being thrown for almost all of them.

Inquisitive and open
In the USA, you are much more likely to encounter people who wish to know a lot about your personal life – and who are much happier to share everything about themselves, too. This openness is common in the USA, and while you may well be a little shocked at first, you will soon come to learn that they are not being intrusive, and that they simply enjoy getting to know people, and hearing about their backgrounds.

Consuming alcohol
If you are a young person, or you have teenage children who are moving with you, you need to be aware of the laws regarding alcohol consumption. In the UK the legal age is 18, whereas in the USA it is 21, which means that you will need to wait a few years before starting to drink. Also be aware that penalties for underage drinking can be severe – so it is important to explain this to your children who may be underage.

Sense of humour
If you’re from the UK, then there is every chance that the majority of your humour is centred around sarcasm – but this is something that Americans struggle to understand. In fact, they may feel as though you are simply being offensive rather than having a joke, so it is important that you explain what you meant if you inadvertently cause offence at any point.

Leaving a tip
In the UK, a tip is not compulsory, but in the US it is expected that you will tip your server anything between 15-20% depending on the service that they have provided. If you don’t do this then you will be considered rude – and it is important for workers to receive tips, as it makes up a huge portion of their wage, which many come to rely upon.

Punctuality
If you are late to anything in the USA, you will be frowned upon. There is not as much of a relaxed atmosphere here as there is in the UK, so it is important to try and be on time. If something is scheduled for a particular time, then it is very much expected that it should happen at that time.

Ultimately, although there are differences between the UK and USA, you should find that by getting as much information about these differences as possible, you have the best possible chance of fitting in with the culture once you arrive. This means that you will settle in quickly and enjoy your new lifestyle, so it is certainly more than worth taking the time to read about what might be different about the two cultures.

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