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American lifestyle: uses, customs, and habits to orient yourself in the USA

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Usually, when preparing your holidays in the United States, you take care of everything you need: booking flights, hotels, expatriate documents, car rental (if we do an on the road), and much more.

However, among the thousands of preparations, one factor that can make the difference is often overlooked: how well do we know our destination? How is life in the USA? What are the customs, traditions, unwritten rules, habits, and lifestyles that characterize this fascinating overseas land?

Knowing the  American way of life will help us to orient ourselves right away, facilitating our relations with local institutions and citizens, avoiding big wastes of time and some bad figures. Here are some tips:

Rules of conduct of the American way of life

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Mancha: the United States will always give a tip, at least you do not want to do an affront to the waiter, or that his work was really poor (which personally I never happened). Tipping is part of the salary of the waiters, who receive a rather meager fixed amount. How much to tip? From 15% to 20% to waiters and taxi drivers. If you only get a drink at the counter, give at least $ 1 per spin. Give porters at least $ 2 per suitcase. If you want some specific advice, read our article on how to tip in the USA
  • Do not photograph passers-by without permission: it has happened to me more than once to be stopped by a passer-by with a camera in hand who asked me: “You accidentally ended up in one of my photos, do you want me to delete it?” This is because Americans don’t like to end up in photos of strangers without giving their consent.
  • Relationship with alcohol: since the days of Prohibition, Americans have at least had a particular relationship with alcoholic beverages, and still today it is a big problem especially for young people. Alcoholic beverages are only sold to adults over the age of 21 with documentary proof. It is also not a good idea to walk the streets with a beer in hand like at our village festivals. The drink must be enclosed in a wrapper.

The American welcome

American welcome USALet’s say you are on the street with a map in your hand, intent on figuring out which is the right way to the place you are looking for … it won’t be long before someone approaches you and asks you: “Do you need help?” But it does not end here: if even after the detailed information received you continue to show an expression at least perplexed, do not worry, it is likely that the nice passer-by not only does not give up explaining the way but also decides to accompany you to the destination.

These have happened frequently during my travels in America; even once a lady mounted me in the car and took me home! In short, one of the most pleasant aspects of Americans is their welcome, simplicity, and ability not to make you feel like a stranger in their country. So if you get lost, you know how!

American cuisine: much more than it seems

It is often said that American cuisine is very heavy and based mainly on fast food. This is actually only partially true, in the United States you can really eat everything, and even good! Obviously, we need to look for the right places and not stop at the first place we meet.

In the USA you can enjoy good dishes of all kinds: they have excellent meat, delicious fish, gigantic but good salads. You will also find ethnic restaurants of all kinds (Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Greek, etc …) even if for the most part reworked according to local taste; if you take some information before choosing them, you will not be disappointed.

Depending on where you are you can try the regional cuisines typical of the various areas: for example, steaks and meats are characteristic of the cuisine of the Mid-West, while the fish is typical of Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, and New England. In California, refined and classy organic cuisine has long been established, which goes hand in hand with the quality of local food products.

In short, American cuisine is presented as rather varied, especially if we want to explore and research. How to find good restaurants? Two ways: ask for information around (as already said the Americans will not spare themselves), or consult guides and online resources (also on this site you will find many tips!). You will see that it will be a pleasant discovery …

Do you want to shop? Did you know that…

  1. The prices displayed are not inclusive of taxes, so what you are seeing is not the real price.
  2. Have you regretted buying a product? No problem! For many purchases, the goods can be returned (even if you have used them !!) and the money spent will be returned to you. Find out about the return conditions during the purchase phase.
  3. The real price is always the one displayed.  It may seem like a trivial statement but it is not. One evening I accompanied a friend to buy a vacuum cleaner. The department label said $ 100. Arriving at the checkout we discovered that the clerk had placed it wrong and that the real price was actually higher, but if the customer finds it at a given price, that becomes effective (plus taxes of course). Result: sold for $ 100! I swear to you, I’ve seen this scene happen before my eyes!
  4. Sizes for dresses and shoes. In America, the sizes are not the same as ours, and below you can take a look at the comparison table. However in many cases, at least to buy shoes, you won’t need them. In fact, in various shoe shops, you will find a series of footprint figures on the ground. Just compare them with yours to easily know your size. One last thing: in the USA the 40 (7.5) you will often find it among the shoes for boys.
  5. Electric sockets. Do you want to buy an electronic product? Know that you will need a gearbox to make it work in Italy. Power sockets in the United States are different from ours and this also applies to charging cell phones. So, before you leave, buy yourself a nice American adapter.

American coffee: drink to discover or flush?

American coffee in the USAThe coffee is a symbol of US citizens, as are the burgers. To us Italians, this large and hot mash usually does not arouse a really positive impression and I too confess to you that at the beginning I had my difficulties. In the United States, you can also easily find espresso. But it’s not exactly a delicacy: they do it with capsules, single (1 capsule), and double (2).

In reality, American coffee is, as a concept, a completely different drink from our coffee. It is in fact a companion drink, to carry around and sip for most of the day, in the car and at work. Furthermore, the cliche that it would be a sort of long-watered coffee must also be dispelled. This is absolutely not the case, on the contrary, you will easily find really excellent blends. Above all, it is a question of getting used to the new taste and indulging local habits (in short, if you want to try it, you have to take it with you!).

Warning: the American coffee is hot (if you want to drink it immediately, some cold milk will always be available). A 79-year-old lady even got nearly $ 3 million in compensation from McDonald’s for coffee burns! Don’t believe it? A documentary was also shot on this story. Here is the trailer:

America and movies: how far apart are they?

Many tourists who decide to visit the United States do so because in some way they are also fascinated by the imagery transmitted by the world of television and in particular Hollywood. The question is: how far is the world of cinema from reality? The answer is little or nothing. As soon as you arrive, you will be amazed at how faithfully the films reproduce American habits and life.

Transportation to America?

In major American cities, the subway works quite well. But if an area is not well covered by the subway you will have to use the bus, which is much less reliable. The time slots are often reported in a vague way and it can also happen that they are not strictly respected. Also remember that you must have the exact money for the ticket, otherwise no change!

The coach proves to be a better choice for extra-urban trips; Greyhound for example allows you to move between major cities at an affordable price. The train, on the other hand, is a more expensive transport, operated by various companies depending on the area. The most common is the Armtrack which basically covers all the most important areas.

For internal travel, of course, you can also consider the plane. To avoid hitchhiking: there are fewer and fewer states where it is legal to practice it and in any case. You never know who you can meet … if they catch you technically they can even throw you in the cell!

You may also like to read, What Mormons Believe?

Curiosities of Different Cultures

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Despite globalization, it is fascinating to see how there are customs that remain intact. The way in which each culture expresses itself is amazing.

On many occasions, there are actions that have a totally different meaning depending on where they are being done. Furthermore, every culture has those “rituals” that make it so special and different from the others. There is always something that marks us.

Sometimes that special feature is a language, other times a gesture or even a whole ritual. When we talk about culture we include a lot of factors: values ​​of historical knowledge, ways of dressing, beliefs, comity, artistic forms, and many more. At the end of the day, ways to communicate, to express yourself.

There is no doubt that the best way to discover the secrets behind each civilization is to visit them, especially if you are lucky enough to be able to live in their own way at least for a while. Right now we cannot travel but that does not mean that we cannot continue discovering curiosities of different cultures.

FISTS ON THE TABLE – GERMANY

If you go to a conference or a class in Germany, don’t even think of clapping at the end. Applause is reserved for events such as theater or concerts. To celebrate that a presentation has been very cool or to close a meeting, the Germans hit the tables with their fists.

PISOTONES – RUSSIA

In Russia, you can be walking quietly, stepping on someone unintentionally, and … let them stomp you back! Contrary to what you may think, no, it is not for revenge. Rather the complete opposite. There they believe that returning the stomp avoids future conflicts with the other person.

BLACKENING – SCOTLAND

Weddings are a whole world. Each culture has a ritual that differentiates them, we all have a different way of proclaiming our love. In Scotland, for example, they have the tradition of blackening or blackening the bride and groom. To educate the bride and groom that they must be prepared to be together both through thick and thin, the day before the wedding the friends of the bride and groom smear them with mud and make them parade through the whole town (or city).

THROW CHILDREN TO 15 METERS – INDIA

There is a tradition that consists of throwing children from a 15-meter tower, and not trying to kill them. In India, they trust that this act will bring prosperity and intelligence to the little ones. To avoid scares they put a sufficiently resistant cloth where the children fall.

SPIT – GREECE

In this country, it is common to spit three times when they hear bad news. Thus, they believe that they keep misfortunes away, at least for a time! Although they don’t really spit, what they do is make the sound like they’re throwing those three spits on themselves.

You may also like to read, 11 pills of local culture to sell in china

11 pills of local culture to sell in china

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There are many reasons that push a company to evaluate business opportunities in China. In addition to the guarantees offered by an economy that boosts growth and stability, the country’s willingness to open up to international markets emerges, favoring the development of agreements and commercial deals.

Selling in China is an ambitious project, to take this opportunity it is essential to know how to approach your interlocutor. We talk about it in today’s article.

How to sell in China? 11 tips to not be unprepared

Starting a business in China may take more effort than imagined. In addition to the linguistic factor, there are a number of cultural aspects to consider: history, traditions, and values ​​impact commercial collaborations.

To create strategic and lasting relationships, it is advisable to deepen some aspects of the Asian market. We will dedicate the next lines to the discovery of culture in China and to the deepening of some useful tips for starting professional relationships with the locals.

1) Get to know the premises

The first aspect to consider concerns the development of knowledge with the locals. It is not about immediately establishing relationships that have commercial purposes. What is important, in this phase, is to rely on someone to guide you in the knowledge of the reference market, in the discovery of the local population, and in the identification of possible partners.

2) Develop the first network of knowledge

Once the cities and markets of interest have been identified, it is time to develop the first network of knowledge. At this stage, it is important to get to know local entrepreneurs and companies that may be interested in purchasing goods and services. It is essential to remember that to establish professional relationships in China it is crucial to start from the development of personal relationships. Where to start?

3) Attend local fairs and events

What better way to get to know customers and partners interested in your proposal than by participating in trade shows, events, and exhibitions in China? In this article, you can find detailed information on this topic as well as useful tips for organizing your next business trip.

4) Listen to your interlocutor

To cultivate personal relationships that can lead to the development of interesting business opportunities, it is essential to listen to your interlocutor. Before exposing yourself and communicating objectives and strategies, it is essential to take the time to collect data and information. What are the advantages of this modus operandi? In addition to showing respect towards the premises, it is possible to examine in more detail the assessments and considerations that have emerged.

5) Prepare a clear and detailed presentation

Before planning a business trip and getting to know potential partners, it is imperative to prepare the necessary material to use during the meetings.

The presentations, in particular, must be clear and contain detailed information, with a reference also to the results actually achieved that testify to the reliability of the company and the reasons that motivate the interest in the country.

6) Check your body language

A tip to take in any situation that requires physical presence is to control your emotions and body language. It is undoubtedly a demonstration of education and respect, but also of security and trust.

How to behave, then? Better not to gesticulate, raise your voice, or stare at someone for too long, but show yourself calm and composed.

7) Discuss all the details before making your proposal

An important element concerns the practical management of the commercial activity. Before signing an agreement, all the conditions must be clear to the parties involved. Details matured particularities and items worthy of evaluation must be meticulously investigated before reaching an agreement.

It would be a mistake not to consider some aspects and postpone them to a later stage.

8) Use the tools available to sell in China

Entering, now, into the details of commercial affairs, it is good to consider that to start the business it is essential to take advantage of the tools available to the premises. Business cards, information material and promotional brochures must be translated into the language; the same is true if you plan to develop a company website and a customer service team.

9) Social yes or no?

The answer is yes, but with some consideration. Social networks allow you to get in touch with a considerable slice of the public and it is difficult to think of giving up, but the known restrictions applied in terms of use must be respected. There are government-approved platforms in China, such as WeChat, Weibo, and Renren; approaching this new digital world is the only solution to not lose important contacts.

10) Personalize emails and documents

The communication strategy is an aspect on which to focus; even sending a simple email involves attention focused on individual graphic and writing details, which it is good to customize to give due consideration to partners and retain them.

11) Beware of local holidays

Obviously, when planning an off-site trip, first of all, you evaluate your commitments. If you are planning a trip to China, do not forget to check the national and traditional holidays, so as to ensure normal business operations.

As can be seen from the article, starting a commercial activity with the aim of selling in China and approaching the Asian market implies an in-depth preparation on the conduct and modus operandi to be adopted, elements destined to have a positive impact on the business.

You may also like to read: What are the Venezuelan traditions?

What are the Venezuela traditions?

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Venezuela is a country that has an important cultural influence that has made its traditional festivals a spectacle worth seeing. African and European culture and indigenous traditions are mixed in their many celebrations, resulting in popular festivals known worldwide for their beauty. You can find many celebrations in this country. Still, we focus on the most outstanding ones, learn about the traditional festivals of Venezuela, and discover more about this wonderful nation’s culture.

Venezuela traditions: Holy Week

Venezuela is a predominantly Catholic country, so Holy Week is one of the traditional festivals in this country, with characteristic celebrations every day.

The traditional festivals begin on Palm Sunday, a week before Easter Sunday. The faithful come to churches with palms to be blessed. With these palms, crosses will be made that will serve to protect homes throughout the year.

The processions and Via Crucis are characteristic throughout the week, reminding the faithful of the life and work of Jesus and his last days. Easter Sunday is a holiday in which all Catholics celebrate with processions and attending Mass, the salvation of Jesus. It is precisely on this day that you can enjoy the burning of Judas, where believers make Judas dolls that they expose and burn publicly to celebrate that good has triumphed over evil.

Traditional festivals of Venezuela: Dancing Devils of Yare

The Dancing Devils of Yare are, without a doubt, the most famous traditional festival in Venezuela abroad and one of the most important nationally.

Nine weeks after Holy Thursday, Corpus Christi is celebrated, and it is also on this date that the Dancing Devils of the town of Yare, in the state of Miranda, delight all attendees to honor the Blessed Sacrament.

Those who have made promises are in charge of dressing up as devils, respecting certain hierarchies, and dancing to the rhythm of the music. Wearing red costumes and colorful masks, the Dancing Devils of Yare fulfill their purpose of honoring their church while the faithful enjoy the dances, attend Mass and participate in the different religious events to celebrate Corpus Christi. Locals and tourists alike are delighted to participate in this colorful celebration.

Traditional festivals of Venezuela: Cruz de Mayo

The May Cross festival, although in some countries it is celebrated every May 3 to welcome the rainy season that allows the growth of crops, in Venezuela. It can be enjoyed throughout May, being one of the most popular traditional festivals, especially in the east of the country.

The May Cross festival consisted of decorating the crosses with the first flowers of spring, a way of honoring the Christian faith and thanking nature for the flowering. However, over time it was related to crops and rains.

The wake of the May Cross, which takes place in eastern Venezuela, is a great celebration. Not only are the crosses decorated, but there are also dances until dawn and many Catholic and social events to celebrate this party.

Traditional festivals of Venezuela: San Antonio de Padua

Being a Catholic country, in Venezuela, there are countless festivals linked to the church. However, on June 13 the day of San Antonio de Padua is celebrated but what makes this festival truly traditional and outstanding is the dance performed in it: the Tamunangue.

In Lara’s state, the faithful who are keeping promises thanks, San Antonio, for his generosity while dancing to the rhythm of the drums, evidencing the perfect mix between European and African customs in a single ritual.

Traditional festivals of Venezuela: Fiestas de San Juan

The festival of San Juan is popular in many countries. In Venezuela, it is celebrated especially in the coastal areas, where the rhythm of the drums marks this important festival destined especially for the devotees of this saint. On the eve of San Juan, attendees gather on the beaches to dance drums and improvise songs, a ritual that is repeated the next day as devotee’s wave colored handkerchiefs to honor their saint.

Traditional festivals of Venezuela: La Chinita Fair

The Chinita Fair is one of the most popular festivals in Venezuela. It is celebrated between November 15 and 22 to honor the Virgen de la Chiquinquirá, patron saint of Zulia.

The Venezuelan bagpipes are the musical background of this celebration, officially opening the Christmas season, in which this type of music is usually heard. With religious rituals, a musical fair, sports competitions, bullfights, and all kinds of events, the faithful of the Virgen de la Chiquinquirá honor their chinita, as they affectionately call their patron.

Other celebrations

In Venezuela, you can also enjoy other traditional festivals such as the paradura del niño in the Andes on January 1, the Divina Pastora festivities in Lara state on January 14. The Callao Carnival in Bolívar state, the Feria del Sun in Mérida, and the different festivals, honor each town’s virgins and Saints. Each one with particular traditions that are often a mixture of Catholicism inherited by the Spanish and the different African and indigenous rituals, thus revealing the country’s traditions. Whose culture is the product of many influences?

What is Culture, Basic Elements of Culture and Features

General

The term culture has a wide number of meanings: to inhabit, to cultivate, to honor with worship, to protect, and so on. Hence this word is associated with developing or practicing something, as well as the cult of both a religious deity and the body or spirit. Currently, man has managed to express himself through it and although over time it has diversified a bit, the 21st century has left a great mark, a before and after in the world. The man has managed to question the system and his own actions.

What is culture?

You can talk about it as an art, encompassing music, painting, sculpture, clothing, and any talent, but it also exists as knowledge, conduct, belief, and even religion. The latter is based on the way of life of a country’s inhabitants and how they reflect their attitudes to the world, including their language. There is so much cultural diversity worldwide that it would take many years to cover it all.

What primarily characterizes it is the people who are part of it, its activities and traditions, so it can be said that it is dynamic and is constantly changing, adapting to the influence of other cultures outside of it and adopting new trends.

ELEMENTS OF CULTURE

There are many cultural aspects that we often take for granted or are invisible to our perception. However, it is convenient to pause to analyze the elements that make up a culture briefly:

1. Rights

We understand that every human culture has a shared cultural terrain. Here, territorial rules and appropriation processes are studied, not only of property but also symbolic. In addition, the available resources and how those resources are used are taken into account.

For example, the Masais live in the Border Mountains between Kenya and Tanzania and identify with their territory and the resources they obtain from it.

2. Ethnohistory

It refers to the culture of biographical identity. It is necessary to look at the cultural roots of each society to understand its culture and behavior. For example, the history of a community based on its cultural and ideological tradition or the historical events that marked the course of a given society. A possible example would be the African American community, whose identity is marked by its historical memory. We can influence this example later.

3. Beliefs and ideas

The beliefs are interpretive systems that a social group has about reality. They explain the world we live in and therefore create binding behaviors. Furthermore, these come from values.

According to Gasset says, “Ideas have, in the belief it is “. Ideas are easier to change, we form them more rationally, but beliefs are more unconscious. Beliefs do not have an intellectual but a cultural value.

Thus, ideology is an organized set of compromise ideas that have a certain socio-political development. Sometimes ideologies are confused with beliefs and become a creed.

Today there is talk of the end of ideologies, but in reality, there is an ideology: the single thought that, however, is sold as non-ideology. It is the post-industrial technocracy, where it is thought that everything comes down to the market.

But this powerful thought is being answered by new collective groups, which are constituted as social forms, platforms, informal groups, grassroots movements. Some examples are the Squat movement, the landless, the anti-globalization movements, etc. All of this is the foundation of cultures. Therefore, values, beliefs, ideas and ideologies create worldviews, collective representations.

4. Values ​​and norms

Values ​​and norms create the fundamental core of cultures. Every community has shared values, and these can be explicit or implicit. They function as markers of behavior, leading to guilt. Therefore, the character of values ​​is moral and arises from group interaction.

Some examples of cultural values would be education, emotional ties, respect and empathy, patriotism, peace, justice, freedom, beauty and personal fulfillment, among others.

For their part, the rules are external and must be assumed by the group. They can transgress and create no guilt. It is an externalization of values, so the norms vary more than the values.

5. Communication

Communication occurs through Language and Rituals. They are those cultural mechanisms that serve to communicate and inform. When a language disappears, a culture disappears, as we will see in later publications.

When we talk about communication, we must consider two aspects:

Communication: we communicate with someone.

Information: we communicate or report something so that communication has meaning. For example, if they speak to us in a language that we do not master, the message does not make sense.