Worldwide Influences. No one survey can do justice to the vast sweep of American culture. The United States is a dynamic country, covering the breadth of a continent. Many cultural currents exist and coexist within American life. The sections that follow do not attempt to cover every aspect of American culture, but instead zero in on some phenomena, like television, films and American music, that newcomers can study in order to learn more about American life.
The United States is both an old country and a new country. American values have developed over several centuries, affecting (and often being enriched by) successive waves of immigrants. The trend continues: old ways blending with new ideas. The best way to look at it is to realize that while Americans are often open to new ways of thinking, they have a deep culture, and a deep sense of being American, one that is not always that easy to describe. Those who disagree, who believe the country has no true culture compared to the “older” civilizations of Europe, Asia and elsewhere, do not truly understand the United States.
The United States offers its residents and newcomers alike a bewildering array of goods, from food shopping to baby clothing, and services, from rug cleaning to shoe repair.
For some goods and services, a few large “category killer” chains control the market. This is so in hardware and home improvement goods, as an example. Even in this area, however, smaller entrepreneurs and even “Mom and Pop” operations fill their own particular market niches. Competition for customers brings great variety to the marketplace, which means it is not always easy to choose where or how to acquire a product or arrange for a service.
If you want any product or service in the United States, you will have to do some work to familiarize yourself with the choices. Products and services vary greatly in quality, accessibility, price and suitability. Because America is so free, and because, in many respects, it has an unplanned, market economy, you will have to become an informed consumer to get the greatest value out of the American system.
Any study of the American people must take into account how complicated that subject is. The United States is a large country encompassing more than 300 million people. Indigenous people (today called Native Americans) make up at most 2% of the American population today. The other 98% are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants.
Many people came to the United States to seek economic opportunity or religious freedom. Others came as slaves. Some groups, including many from the British Isles, became well established by the time of American independence from Great Britain in 1776. Others, like the Irish and many Germans, came in waves during the 19th century.
Asians came in their own waves, especially over the past half century. So-called Hispanic people (actually a very varied group) could be descendants of 17th century settlers from Spain, or they could have arrived in the United States last week (or any time span in between).
These are not the commandments from the book by the same name. These are commandments formed by the immigrant community with years of experience. They’ve made mistakes and learnt from them and they don’t want any other fellow Indian to go through what they had to. What they can wish is if only someone had told them about these implicit rules when they moved here. Nevertheless, here you go.
There’s no instant Intimacy: In India it was relatively easier to make friends. People would have school friends, colony friends, college friends, bus friends and so on. Out here, it is relatively difficult to make friends on the go. American culture tends to be closed. A vast majority of Americans build their social circles in high school and elsewhere in college. It's hard to get into this social framework smoothly after college. Americans entering the job market tend to be more self-contained, busier and less inclined towards making new friends. So, when you feel that you click with an American, don't automatically think of him as a friend. Take it slow. Let him initiate
Know When to Trust: Many times, Americans will use phrases that may sound enthusiastic or supportive, but in practice they are only polite. For example, when an American tells you "it sounds interesting" or "it can work" he actually means: "I hear you but can't guarantee I'm for it”. So how do you distinguish between a polite gesture and an agreement? When the American talks to you about concrete dates and times (when it comes to work meetings, planned projects and even social gatherings and dates) or when the American signs you a contract - know that he accepts your offer.
It’s not personal, It's just business: One of the virtues of American culture (or a low point, depending on how you look at it) is the separation of personal and professional. On the good side of it, you can be almost sure that you won’t be asked to stay back and work after 6 pm. So much so, that it is considered rude to call your boss on the his/her cellphone because a cellphone I s considered as personal space. You can reach out to them through e-mail though. On the bad side of it, a positive experience you have had with an American will not at all guarantee that he will cooperate with you. For example: An Indian startup founder meets with an American investor, they go out, have a drink and grab dinner and the next day the investor may not invest. Why? Because in the US it's not personal, it's just business. So - know to separate the two!
Questions instead of commands: Us Indians are more used to direct delegation of work from our superior. We don’t mind it and don’t feel bad about it. It is our way of life. But in the United States it is considered rude. Out here, a boss will ask an employee if he/she would be able to send them the presentation or anything else by next week instead of just telling them to do something. We might prefer the more direct approach but that doesn’t seem to be appreciated here. Make no mistake, demonstrating a refusal at the boss's request is also rude. The best way to overcome the difficulty is to show motivation, explain to the boss the constraints if any, and offer a new deadline for yourself. They will appreciate your willingness to dialogue.
Bureaucracy is queen, planning is the King: We all hate it, but in the United States it is imperative. Without dealing with bureaucracy, you can't beat the race to find an apartment, get a driver's license, pay bills and more. In some places, bureaucracy is more moderate because of technology, but as far as Social Security and driver's license are concerned, we're still stuck in the last decade, with faxes and everything. Instead of being alarmed, it's worth remembering that American bureaucracy is a big, confusing world. Similarly, you should look at the American tendency to plan events of all kinds many months and even a year in advance. In a busy work culture, long-term planning relieves many pressures. Don't feel embarrassed about coordinating a vacation with the boss six months in advance, writing yourself a work plan one year in advance, or start studying for a test right after the lecturer declares that there is one. That's the only way to succeed here without losing your head.
Avoid American Political Conversations early on: (except you are too much into it). Avoid at all costs initiating a conversation about politics with new people. Beyond penetrating the private space at an early stage of recognition, the contemporary political atmosphere creates an unparalleled polarization between conservatives and liberals, Trump supporters and opponents. Saying phrases that might be interpreted as supporting Trump (even if you don't really support him) can burn you socially and the ones against staunch opposition to Trump is also not a smart move when it comes to the business sector (he has a surprising amount of supporters there). It’s like, we won’t want anyone to come in and say anything about our political atmosphere. Just imagine someone speaking negatively about Modi in front of a Modi Supporter or vice versa.
Being Politically Correct: Yes, it is difficult for a lot of Indians. But these are sensitive times. Issues and phrases related to race, religion, sex, gender etc. are considered explosive and one off the hook remark can land you in a lot of trouble. Just be aware of your surroundings before speaking out mind out. It can get annoying at times but trust us, it helps. American racial and political history has brought us to this point, and in some ways it is an evolving experience.
Self - marketing is not shameless: Don’t be afraid to market yourself. Capitalism and competition are the bread and butter of Americans and they live in a culture of 24/7 Marketing. Create a business card (and if relevant, website or blog) at any networking session don’t be shy to showcase your startup or activities (of course after being interested on the other side, which increases the chances of you being heard too). Self-marketing indicates self-confidence and belief in the product (even if the product is you).
Friend Brings a Friend: Ironically, the best way to know more Americans is to know more Indians. Yes, it’s confusing. But when you think about it, you’ll understand. There are Indians who’ve been here before you and already know a few Americans. If these Indians were to introduce you to their American friends in a natural setting, chances are better for you to hit it off well with them and form a great friendship.
The Horror of Dating in this App Culture: Chances are you’ve used those dating apps in India too. I once sat with an American in a bar. We looked at a few couples sitting there, and some spent considerable time on their cell phones. The American looked at me again, smiled, and said, "Today all these couples know Tinder and Hinge." It's sad, but the spontaneous "how do we know this person" stories are less common because dating apps save a lot of the initial embarrassment in the beginning. Use them wisely, it's a good opportunity to get acquainted with American dating culture and learn more about yourself.
Want to study in the US and don’t know where to start? Here’s a comprehensive guide, from registration to admission.
USA has the world’s largest international student population, with more than 1,000,000 students choosing to broaden their education and life experience in the United States. Nearly 5% of all students enrolled in higher-level education in the USA are international students, and the numbers are growing. From the mid-1950’s, when international student enrollment was only just reaching 35,000, international education in the USA has come a long way. We look forward to helping students like you who are considering continuing education in the United States through this guide. You will find all the tools you need to compile your necessary research in deciding if the United States is the best place for you — we have gathered valuable information on educational, social, cultural and economic aspects of studying in the U.S.
Step 1 – Choosing your academic subject
So, as an aspiring student in USA you need to first ask yourself what is it that interests you and most likely you will find a great school offering that subject.
While most Indians prefer studying STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), there are plenty of other subjects and fields that you can choose to do your studies here.
Some of the most sought-after subjects in the U.S after Technology is Information Systems, Business and Management Studies, Medicine, Economics, Law, Arts & Humanities, Accounting & Finance & Social Sciences. It is always a good idea to research about the upcoming demand for a subject and figure out if that interests you. This will also help in eliminating a lot of options that you may have in your mind.
Once you’ve have settled on a subject, the next step is to identity the university/universities that offers that subject, select the one that you like the most and then gather more information about the university.
Step 2 – Learning about the institutions
This is often a complicated task, because you need to know a lot of information to make a good choice. If you have no idea about how to do this, you may consider contacting the closest academic advising center sponsored by your government or by the United States government. Each of these offices can provide excellent advice about schools that you should consider.
Remember that no official ranking system exists for colleges and universities in the United States. The best college or university is the one that is best for you and meets your requirements—academic, financial, and personal.
At least 12 to 18 months prior to the academic year in which you hope to attend a U.S. college or university, you should begin your research. Start by answering these basic questions and looking at the more specific 'define your priorities' pages under each level of study in this section:
Which colleges or universities will meet your needs?
Will you need financial assistance?
What are the application and financial aid deadlines?
Where do you want to live in the United States?
Choose your level of study (e.g. undergraduate, graduate, etc.) to learn more about researching your options. Keep in mind that the schools you apply to must be certified by the Student Exchange Visitor Program. You can find a searchable list of certified schools on the Department of Homeland Security's Study in the State's website.
Step 3: Financial Planning
Invest in yourself! The cost of living and studying varies across the United States. With the right amount of planning and research, pursuing a U.S. higher education can be made affordable with high returns on your investment.
Start your financial planning as early as possible. Each year international students receive significant amounts of financial assistance for their studies. However, competition is high. Applications for financial aid go together with applications for admission. When looking into studying in the United States, evaluating your finances should be one of the first things you do. As with any investment, you need to evaluate what's best for your educational and career goals and what you are willing to spend.
Step 4 – Registration and admission requirements
Once you’ve figured out the subject and university / universities you want to apply to, comes the time to actually start the long and tedious task of registration and applications.
Here’s the common eligibility criteria and the application process followed by most universities.
Good Academics: A solid GPA is a must in order to study in the US. A limited number of backlogs is also desirable (ideally, no backlogs if you are aiming top universities), and some other requirements that can be asked by the universities for specific courses
Standardized Tests: Students who are looking at to study Bachelors in the US, must appear for TOEFL or IELTS. If you are aiming for the top 100/200 colleges in the US along with financial aid, you should also opt for the SAT or ACT. For the most selective schools like Ivy League schools and top 25 – 50 colleges, you should also appear for SAT Subject Tests and/or AP exams. For graduate studies, you must appear for GRE or GMAT, along with IELTS/TOEFL
Essays/SoP and Letters of Recommendation: Apart from academic transcripts and test scores, you are also required to submit college essays, a statement of purpose (SoP) outlining your reasons to apply to a particular college or university and recommendation letters (LoR) from you ex-teachers or managers.
Step 5 – The academic process
The application process for USA will change for different universities, however, most of them follow the process of online application. Most of the documents like the scanned copy of your passport, academic transcripts, essays, etc. must be uploaded to the online application portal of the particular universities.
Tests: The Graduate courses will require the GRE, and management courses (like MBA or MS Finance, MS Business Analytics) will require GMAT scores. The undergraduate courses will require SATs and LSAT (for Law courses), MCAT (Medical Courses). The other major requirement is English Language Proficiency Test scores such as IELTS and TOEFL scores. All these scores must be reported officially through the conducting bodies.
Finances: As an international student, you would be looking at an overall expense (fees & living expenses) of INR 80 Lacs to 1.5 Crore for an undergraduate degree or INR 45 Lacs to 85 Lacs for a Masters (MS) program. MBA programs will cost you INR 70 Lacs to 1.5 Crore. There are many scholarship and financial aid schemes are out there for international students.
U.S. institutions offer a wide array of programs with a wide array of tuition and fees. Find information about special opportunities and financial aid provisions that U.S. higher education institutions offer international students, such as scholarships, in-state tuition benefits, waived application fees and deadlines, and similar provisions. Keep in mind that the United States is a large country and the cost of living varies greatly from place to place. You need to assess your funding and what you can spend on your education and living expenses.
There are two main intakes in the USA – fall and spring. The Fall Intake starts in August, and it has the most number of courses available. The Fall Intake in USA is the most favorite among the international students.
The Spring (or Winter) Intake starts in January, and the students who might have missed the fall intake in USA can choose to study in Winter Intake, though not every course that is available in fall would be available in winter. There is a Summer Intake (May), too, however, it has a very limited number of courses on offer.
Once you’ve completed the entire application process, you start the waiting process and wait for the university to let you know that you are accepted. Once accepted, you need to then apply for a U.S Student Visa.
This guide is meant to provide you with a comprehensive gist with the purpose of giving you an idea as to what it takes to study in USA! Right from deciding what to study and where to study, you also need to sort out the finances, complete a lengthy application process involving SOPs, Letter of Recommendation, Transcripts and even appearing for English Proficiency Tests like the TOEFEL and finally applying for a student visa once you’ve been accepted by the university.
We hope that this guide helps you in your process of Applying for your Study in USA.
Below are links to a few other guides that are important for a student studying in the USA
To be able to do an internship in the United States is a huge opportunity for many students. However, you might ask, how can one actually get an internship in the United States?
In this article we are going to present several options to you on how to best get into an OPT program.
Networking is not a dirty word
It's never too early to start networking in the United States. Even if you still can't work, even if you're only in the first year and even if you don't know where you want to work. Building relationships is the key to long-term survival in this place. In the end, the person who will give you an internship will actually give you a chance. It would be very helpful if this person would know you personally or hear about you from the right people.
Go out there, make local and international friends, join events, sport groups, or any other activity you like doing which involves other people. The goal is to build professional or personal relationships, not only to get a job. Although it might seem like you are in it for yourself, networking will also open yourself up to people who are interested in learning about your culture. We go back to the importance of being genuine and making sure you are as authentic as possible. Just being friends with someone in order to get a good job, doesn’t make any sense and is rude. People will notice if you are only using them, so network carefully!. The goal here is to actually make friends who will get to know you so that they can then help you out in the long run. Building long-term friendships during your time abroad is the most effective way to set yourself up for success in your internship hunt. Just get out there, make friends, and have fun! The same way you would do at home.
The American networking world is very developed. Learning a profession? Look for industry events, organizations, guilds and workers ' unions. You're done studying? Look for networking events for your school in the United States.
Do you have a Linkedin account? No? Then go make one right now! It is super easy to make and is the networking gold mine for those looking for jobs and opportunities in the United States. Linkedin is the manifestation of networking through an online platform. Start requesting connections in your Linkedin profile as soon as you start meeting people at your university. Someone’s connection might one day post a job opportunity on their wall and you will be that much closer to securing an OPT in the United States. Build a strong profile and start sharing and posting on the site to make a name for yourself online. In this digital marketing age, even your skills need to be marketed online. So make sure you are growing your Linkedin network during your time at university.
Publish an ad on homeis:
Take advantage of this platform as much as possible. Here’s you’ll come in contact with people from your community. Not only will they help you out with opportunities, at least they’ll help you connect to the right people and you may just learn a lot from their experiences.
Contact your college Career centre:
Many university have “career centers” or online platforms where recruiters go to to find the best talent from universities in the United States. This could prove to be helpful for you and an easy way to see internship opportunities from university recruiters. Universities also have tons of networking events like job and career fairs that can be super useful for your networking goals. Some universities even have “internship” fairs so make sure you are aware of all the networking opportunities available to you at your university. This type of networking is a little less natural and requires you to have an elevator pitch ready about what you are looking for in an internship and how you can add value to a business. Practice these things and make sure to have a well-polished resume on hand to show off to the recruiters when they come visit you.
Get ahead of the train:
According to the data, about 80% of international students intend to work in the United States after school, while less than 30% succeed in finding specialization or work. It's a frightening thing, but it's important-don't be complacent. If you are really going to work here after school or during it, it's never too early to start building Ties and plan the next few years to come.