Minimizing the Effects of Culture Shock - Part 4

#13. Americans are so impatient!

Americans believe that if things take a long time to do, they won’t be able to do enough of them. Many Americans believe that more and faster is better. They do not like to stand in line and wait, and they originated fast food. Americans believe that getting things done (and doing them quickly) may be more important than other things. Many other cultures believe that slower is better and that building and maintaining relationships takes priority over getting things done at the expense of relationships.

#14. They seem self-centered

Americans are fiercely independent people. This significant cultural value can be at odds with the natural tendencies of most people, which is to be dependent and connected to others. This independence may be hard for many people to understand and achieve, but for Americans, it is very desirable. While it can be perceived as “selfish,” the true nature of this belief is self-reliance. Americans take care of themselves and expect others to do the same. Popular shows and numerous films show heroes, usually ordinary individuals, who save the day (or the world!) by acting on their own; sometimes bypassing rules and authorities and ignoring group opinion.

#15. Their life seems tough

Even when doors are open, people ask before entering. While friendly and helpful, they expect themselves and others to make their own decisions and do their own jobs. They don’t answer other people’s phones at work. Self-help books, groups and do-it-yourself projects are standard. While protective of their children, most US parents treat them like small adults. American children are encouraged to make their own decisions from the earliest age. Young adults move away from home, usually after high school. Most American kids have their own phone, computer, TV set, and car too. So, as they are expected to be self-reliant, Americans have a fairly low and declining level of social welfare, healthcare, and public services. Volunteerism for a good cause is common, but also on the decline.

Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Classroom Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding

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Minimizing the Effects of Culture Shock - Part 3