What expats really think of the U.S
Although probably one of the most widely commercialized countries in the world thanks to its major exports of Hollywood and music: the United States of America can be a really strange place to visit. This is particularly true for expatriates, whose whole world view can be questioned before they’re even through customs. Whether expats arrive in the U.S as kids or as adults, or they’re in La La Land or the Bible Belt, here’s what shocks them the most about the U.S.A.
How much should you give?
There’s a long tradition of tipping in the US, where greasing palms is both an integral part of the American way of life and a social disease (tippititus), and has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of service. Without tipping the whole economy would grind to a halt, although there’s often a thin line between tips and payoffs, a fact of everyday business life in most cities.
Religious organisations and lifestyles in the US
The US has a tradition of religious tolerance and every resident has total freedom of religion without hindrance from the state or community. The establishment and free exercise of religion is enshrined in the First Amendment of the US constitution. For this reason, prayer isn’t permitted in schools or at the start of sports games and was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.
Structure and organization
There’s no national police force in the US, where policing is organised on a state and local basis. The country has around 500,000 police officers and a total of 40,000 separate police forces, over half of which are simply one or two-man sheriffs’ offices in small towns.
Laws and Courts in the US
The US legal system is based on federal law, augmented by laws enacted by state legislatures and local laws passed by counties and cities. Most rights and freedoms enjoyed by Americans are enshrined in the first ten amendments of the US Constitution and popularly known as the ‘Bill of Rights’.
History and statistics
The purpose of this section isn’t to scare you, but to warn you about the high level of crime and violence in the US, which in the major cities is much higher than in many other countries, especially western Europe.
Traditions and habits
American culture regularly falls victim to stereotyping and belittlement, arguably thanks to its portrayal in Hollywood films and US television serials.