“In Japan, people do not use so many kinds of gestures, so I was surprised that American people move their hands so aggressively when they talk. The only movements Japanese people make in conversations are nodding and shaking the head. So at first I couldn’t focus on the conversations because I was worried that their hands would accidentally hit me.
One more thing that I had to spend some time getting used to about conversations were facial expressions. American people often frown their faces when they say “no” or “I don’t know” or ” excuse me?” in any normal conversation. When I was not yet good at speaking English, I often said “excuse me?” to repeat my word again, and I was scared every time I was said it because I thought the person was angry at my bad English pronunciation.
Another difference in gestures I find is with the beckoning sign. In American culture, people move one or two fingers with their palms up when they want to say “come here,” and move four fingers together with turning the palm down when they want to say “go away”. However, in Japan, both “come here” and “go away” signs are with down-turning palm. When one wants to tell “come here,” he moves the four fingers together from up to down, and when he wants to tell “go away,” he moves his four fingers together from down to up. The American beckoning sign with moving one or two fingers looks impolite to me because it is similar to a Japanese gesture when they order a dog to come. And my Japanese beckoning sign confused my friends many times because I say “come here!” with waving my hand palm down which was a “go away” sign in American culture.” (Akiho Suzuki, Japan)
Getting in Line
In the U.S., people get in line and wait for their turn when buying tickets, shopping, using the restroom, or waiting for a bus, etc.
If you’re not sure whether there is one line or several lines, you should still wait your turn and simply get behind everyone who arrived before you.
Matters of Religion
“The American culture as it relates to religion differs slightly to the culture surrounding religion in the Caribbean. Being a catholic Christian makes it difficult for me to talk about other religions so I’ll speak more about the things I have observed in the churches I have attended in the US and compare them to the Caribbean.
In the Caribbean, the way in which one would dress to attend church is always formal, despite your religion or denomination. The first time I went to church in PA, I realized that most people took a more casual approach as it relates to the way in which they dressed to attend church. Attending church in America was the first time I’ve ever seen someone wear blackpeoplemeet number slippers and shorts to a church service. This doesn’t happen in the Caribbean culture. It was the first time I’ve ever felt overdressed in any church.
It seems to me also that time is the most important thing in America. I was amazed by how short the very same service was in America, compared to the Caribbean. It is almost impossible to find a church in Grenada that would finish in 45 minutes. I was rather surprised when the priest gave the final blessing 40 minutes into the service. The services that I know, last 2 hours minimum. I wasn’t upset, however, because I was happy to come home from church early.