Immigrants brought to the new continent not only themselves and their families but also pieces of their culture and features of lifestyle. Many of them still live in comparatively closed communities and speak their native languages. Nevertheless with the flow of time they immerge with the dominating American mentality and adopt American way of life.
Otherwise this country would have never been called a melting pot. Some people say that American lifestyle is a set of contradictions. In general etiquette and cultural norms are simplified in order to make people comfortable, rush things as much as possible, and let everyone do whatever he or she wants – and all of this is made with the respect for law and personal security.
Equality of rights is so deeply rooted in the American mentality that some things may even look impolite. Giving a hand to a lady and opening a car door is treated as chivalry but not required in the USA. Women often feel uncomfortable when men pay for them because they accept it as inequality.
The country cares for retired, homeless, and disabled people. Retired people prefer to live the rest of their days in the nursing homes instead of sharing accommodations with their children. Homeless get a special support from the government and they are often granted with social housing. All public places must be equipped for the disabled.
Expensive gifts are not typical for birthdays and weddings. Christmas is an exception. Only wealthy people can afford posh celebrations because most of the expenses are held by the married couple, sometimes with the parental help. Sometimes the couple makes a wish-list of gifts and the guests choose what they can afford and buy it as a present. It is expected to open a gift at once in front of others and thank.
In cafes and restaurants it is accustomed to tip a service staff. The usual tip is about 15% of the sum in your bill. There is an interesting notion called ‘going Dutch’ which means to pay for yourself when you are meeting with somebody in a restaurant.
Americans treat their pets as their kids. They often love them more than they do people. There is a wide network of various shops, barber’s, salons, and even cafes for pets. There is also a law that protects animals from violence.
Americans adore parties. They like getting together with family and friends, making barbeque and picnics, watching movies, and just having fun. It is ok to call and ask if the hostess would like you to bring some dish to a party. Teenagers like clubbing. Smoking is allowed only in certain places and for persons after 18. Drinking alcohol is restricted under 21. You can enter a nightclub only with ID proving your age and containing your photo.