Hi! I am Cassandra Grimm, a Placement Coordinator here at Worldwide internships. I’ve been living in Mexico City for the last 2 years but I’m originally from a tiny town of 5,000 people in Central Illinois. Today, I’m excited to share with you some tips for Unexpected Things to Expect on your Internship in the USA.
Moving to a new country usually presents culture shock in some way, shape, or form. In fact, this is a perfectly normal set of emotions to feel when you move abroad. See the graphic for a little more detail about how culture shock works. One great way to manage your culture shock is to set appropriate expectations, so I’m excited to present you with this list of tips.
Americans tend to be very straightforward, we don’t sugarcoat things. If your boss tells you that you’ve done something wrong, don’t get upset! He/she is simply giving you feedback in the moment so you can improve.
We use a lot of funny expressions, idioms, and metaphors… some examples include:
(To) Hit the books – “to study”
(To) Hit the sack – “to go to sleep”
(To) Twist someone’s arm – “convincing someone to do something”
(To be) Up in the air – “to be undecided”
(To) Stab someone in the back – “to betray someone close to us”
Many people get around primarily by car (not as common to use a bus, metro, bike, walking, or train). We also drive on the right side of the road – and can turn right on red lights.
The legal drinking age is 21, even if you’re allowed to drink in your home country. Be expected to show identification every time you make a purchase, especially if you look like you’re younger than 40.
Prices are displayed before tax. That means, your final purchase price will be higher than stated in the aisles of the store.
Waiters will come to check on you every few minutes and you most likely won’t need to directly ask for the bill. It will be brought to you once the waiter observes that you are finished eating. Also, get used to free refills on drinks pretty much anywhere.
Smiling at strangers. We tend to be pretty friendly people, so don’t be surprised if people randomly smile or wave.
Cops are not to be bribed, whatsoever. In the USA, you will most certainly be arrested if you try to bribe a cop, and they are usually pretty unforgiving. Please, follow the rules!
Payments are a little more relaxed in the USA. People worry less about credit card security and banks usually good with fulfilling promises, while stores often accept returns and exchanges, no questions asked. The customer is always right!
We are opinionated and not afraid to share controversial opinions. I suppose you could say we are not very conflict-averse in general.
I hope this short guide clears up a few unusual situations you might find yourself in when you’re on your internship in the USA. If you have any doubts, feel free to shoot us a message at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to help you out.