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1

TWENTY
YEARS FROM
NOW YOU WILL
BE MORE
DISAPPOINTED
BY THE
THINGS YOU
D I D N T D O
THAN BY THE
ONES YOU DID.
SO THROW
OFF THE
BOWLINES,
S A I L AW AY
FROM THE
SAFE HARBOR,
C AT C H T H E
TRADE WINDS
IN YOUR
SAILS.
EXPLORE.
DREAM.
DISCOVER.
M AR K T WAI N
mikebaird

ARE YOU CONFUSED AND


OVERWHELMED?
Starting a new life in a foreign
country can be scary! Do you
feel confused?
Are you unsure of how to
communicate in English or
unable to understand American
culture?
What about your family? How
can you help them adjust to
their new life here?
This guide will answer your
questions and get you off to a
good start with your new life in
Boston!

nanny snowflake

Lindsay McMahon, Founder


English and Culture
Boston, MA and New York, NY

Hi, my name is Lindsay. My passion is helping international


professionals succeed in the U.S.
I have lived in Asia, Latin America, and Europe. During my
time abroad, I encountered many of the challenges that you
are dealing with right now!
I know what it feels like to live in a new country, so I created
this book to help you. Please contact me if you need more
help or have any other questions about life in Boston.
Sincerely,

ABOUT
THE
AUTHOR

We live in a
wonderful
world that is
f u l l o f b e a u t y,
charm and
adventure.
There is no
end to the
adventures we
can have if
only we seek
them with our
eyes open.

- J a w ahar i al
Nehru
4

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1) Welcome to Boston!.............................................................8
2) Living in Boston ...............13
3) How to Get Around Boston .............................23
4) How to Speak English in Boston: 5 Lessons ......35
5) Five Strategies to Improve your English in Boston ..59
6) How to Manage the Cultural Transition ..83
7) How to Succeed in American Culture ..91
8) Four Steps to Success in the American Workplace ....109
9) How to Help your Family Adjust to American Culture ...121
Final Words from Lindsay ...140
5

LEGAL STUFF
T h e i n f o r m a t i o n c o n t a i n e d i n t h i s g u i d e i s f o r i n f o r m a t i o n a l p u r p o s e s o n l y.
The material in this guide may include information, products or services by third parties.
T h i r d P a r t y Ma t e r i a l s a r e c o m p r i s e d o f t h e p r o d u c t s a n d o p i n i o n s e x p r e s s e d b y t h e i r
owners. As such, English and Culture does not assume responsibility or liability for any
Third Party material.
S o m e o f t h e l i n k s c o n t a i n e d i n t h i s g u i d e a r e a ff i l i a t e l i n k s , a n d a t n o a d d i t i o n a l c o s t t o
you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. Please understand that
I have experience with some of these products but not all. Only make a purchase if you
feel that it is right for you. English and Culture shall not be held responsible if you are
not satisfied with a product purchased through a link from this guide.
No part of this publication shall be reproduced, transmitted, or sold in whole or in part in
any form, without the prior written consent of English and Culture. All trademarks and
registered trademarks appearing in this guide are the property of their respective
owners.
Users of this guide are advised to do their own research when it comes to making
decisions. All information, products, and services that have been provided should be
independently verified by your own qualified professionals. By reading this guide, you
agree that English and Culture is not responsible or liable for any outcome resulting from
information presented in this guide.

English and Culture, All Rights Reser ved.

TRAVEL
AND
CHANGE
OF PLACE
IMPART
NEW
VIGOR TO
THE MIND.
-SENECA

CHAPTER 1
WELCOME TO
BOSTON!

In Boston
they ask, how
much does he
know? In New
York, how
much is he
worth? In
Philadelphia,
who were his
parents?
-Mark Twain

A FEW FACTS ABOUT BOSTON


The population of Greater
Boston is 4.5 million.
Boston was founded by
Puritan Colonists from
England in 1630.

20 million tourists visit


Boston every year.
The hottest day recorded
in Boston was on July 4th,
1911 and it was 104
degrees Fahrenheit.
Mesaba, jeffgun

EDUCATION
IN BOSTON
There are 52
colleges and
universities
in the Boston
area.

Boston
University

Berklee College of
Music

Harvard
University

MIT

Madeleine_H,
opencontent,
Ryusuke Seto,
petrr

10

FOODS YOU SHOULD TRY IN


BOSTON
Clam
Chowder

Fenway
Franks
Lobster

11

Simon Shek, joyosity

MOVIES SET IN BOSTON

Good Will Hunting (1997)


with Matt Damon
The Departed (2006) with
Leonardo Dicaprio
The Town (2010) with Ben
Affleck

12

BostonPhotoSphere

CHAPTER 2
LIVING IN BOSTON

13

4 PLACES
TO SPEND
YOUR
TIME IN
BOSTON

walknboston

14

#1
HARVARD
SQUARE

Bruce Berrien

15

6 THINGS TO DO IN HARVARD
SQUARE
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

Ian Lamont

Take a tour of Harvard


Yard
Walk along the Charles
River
Visit the Harvard Coop
Bookstore
See a show at Club
Passim
Sip coffee at Caf
Pamplona
See a free lecture on any
topic through the Harvard
Lecture Series
16

#2

THE
PUBLIC
GARDENS

chase_elliot

17

4 THINGS TO DO IN THE PUBLIC


GARDENS
Take a ride on the famous
Swan Boats
Take photos and admire the
fall foliage or spring flowers
Bring a book and relax on the
grass in the summertime
Break up your work day with
a walk through the Public
Gardens at lunchtime
18

Bostonphotosphere, ReneS

#3
BOSTON
COMMON

kmohman

19

FACTS ABOUT BOSTON COMMON


Boston Common is located in
the center of Boston. It is used
for picnics and weekend
gatherings and ice skating in
the winter.

During the summer, you can


attend Shakespeare on the
Common and view
Shakespearean plays for free
while sitting in the park.

Michael Karshis, *clairity*

20

#4
FENWAY
PARK

eviltomthai

21

6 REASONS TO VISIT FENWAY PARK


Baseball is a big part of
American culture
Fenway has many years of
history
There is a lot of energy and
excitement
You will hear real Boston
accents
You can try Fenway Franks
(hot dogs)
You will see enthusiastic and
dedicated fans
MDG26

22

CHAPTER 3
HOW TO GET
AROUND BOSTON

23

Bostons
freeway
system is
insane. It
was clearly
designed by
a person
who had
spent his
childhood
crashing toy
trains.
-Bill Bryson

Bruce Berrien

24

FO U R TI PS O N
TRANSPORTATION

walknboston

25

TIP # 1: TAKE THE T


The public transit system in
Boston is useful. It runs until
about 12:30am and starts
around 5:00am
A single ride costs $2.50 and
a monthly pass costs $70 (as
of January 2013)
To save money on the
subway and bus, get a
Charlie Card
Get more information on the
Boston public transit system

Cirofono

26

TIP # 2: HAIL A CAB


To hail (verb): To attract the
attention of something by
shouting or gesturing.

If the light is on, the cab


driver is on duty
Cabs can fit up to 4 people
Do not sit in the front unless
you have more than 3 people
in your group

Dont forget to tip your driver


(10-20%)
Luke Wisely

27

TIP # 3: GET A BIKE


There are a lot of bike lanes
in the city of Boston.
Boston just began a new
program called Hubway
where you can rent a bike
and drop it off in many
different locations.

If you are feeling ambitious


on weekends, you can try the
Minuteman Bikeway. Click
here to get more information.

28

faster panda, Global jet

TIP # 4: JUST WALK IT!


Boston is a walking city!
During rush hour, it often
makes more sense to walk,
especially if your destination
is only a few T stops away
There are also great
neighborhoods that can be
explored on foot like Beacon
Hill, Cambridge, The North
End, and The South End

29

Wolfrage

WANT TO LEARN MORE?


It would be impossible for us to
include everything you need to
know about your new life in
Boston within this guide.
If you would like more
information about the city of
Boston, you can try some of the
books that I have listed in this
section.

Betsssssy

30

JUST FOR LOCALS!


It can be hard to find a guide that
is meant for local people, not
travelers . This guide is what you
need if you are living in Boston
long-term. Its small enough that
you can take it everywhere in your
purse or back pocket!
Maps of each neighborhood
Information about where to eat
Local places to go out for the
evening
Where to find a bank, buy
groceries, get a haircut, and
more

Click here to get the Not for


Tourists Guide to Boston
31

THE LONELY PLANET GUIDE TO


BOSTON
If you are interested in seeing
all of the famous spots in the
city and would like to connect
with the younger (20s and
30s) age group of travelers
and international professionals
who are passing through
Boston, this is a great resource
for you!
Top 10 places to see in
Boston
A monthly guide of what to do
in the area
Detailed neighborhood maps
Information about hostels and
accommodations
Click here to get the Lonely
Planet Guide to Boston

32

ARE YOU CURIOUS ABOUT


HARVARD?
Have you ever wondered what
its like to be a student at
Harvard?
Get insight into the history of
the University
Learn about the culture and
daily life of the students
Get random, fun facts about
Harvard University and the
city of Cambridge, MA.

Click here to get Inside


Harvard
33

A GUIDE ESPECIALLY FOR


RELOCATING EXPATS
This book was written by an
experienced colleague of mine
and it is a trusted and valuable
resource for international
newcomers in Boston.
Find a place to live and learn
about neighborhoods
Learn about schools for your
children
Find out where to shop
Get information on tipping
and other American
customs

Click here to get Welcome to


Boston: A Guide for
International New comers
34

CHAPTER 4
HOW TO SPEAK
ENGLISH IN BOSTON

Everyday
Survival
English Skills

35

English is a
funny
language;
that explains
why we park
our car on
the driveway
and drive
our car on
the
parkway.

Lachlan Hardy

36

LESSON 1
HOW TO
ORDER A
COFFEE IN
ENGLISH

Six Phrases
You Should
Know

Selma90

37

6 WAYS TO ORDER COFFEE


I would like a small, hot coffee.
Ill have a medium, black
coffee.
Can I get a large decaf coffee?
Could I have a cappuccino for
here?
Ill take a caf latte with skim
milk.

Could I try an espresso to go?

Phil Monger

38

CAN VS. COULD

There is not a huge difference


between can and could in
everyday speech. The only
difference is that could is
often slightly more polite than
can.
Could I have a small, regular
coffee? = more polite, less
direct
Can I have a small, regular
coffee? = slightly less polite,
more direct
Alfonso Salgueiro

39

ADJECTIVE ORDER
#1: Size
#2: Temperature
#3: Additional requests
Examples:
Ill have a tall, hot coffee
with no sugar.
Can I get a large, iced coffee
with skim milk?

Irargerich

40

LESSON 2
ENGLISH
IDIOMS
AND THE
WEATHER
6 Phrases to
Use in
Conversation

Horia Varlan

41

THE FIRST 3.

#1: When it rains, it pours.


When one thing goes wrong,
everything goes wrong

#2: The game is on, rain or


shine.
The game or event will take
place regardless of the weather
#3: He has his head in the
clouds.
He is unaware of reality or
what is happening in real life.
42

princedd

AND 3 MORE
#4: This new job is a breath
of fresh air.
A refreshing experience,
something new and different
#5: He is a little under the
w eather.
He is sick, he has a cold
#6: I cant make it to your
show tonight. Can I take a
rain check?
To promise to do something
later
dospaz

43

LESSON 3
5 WAYS TO
ASK FOR
DIRECTIONS
IN ENGLISH

Bruce Berrien

44

ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS IN


BOSTON
#1: Excuse me, can you tell
me how to get to Harvard
Square?

#2: Hi, do you know where


Park Street is?
#3: Could you please tell me
the quickest way to get to
Boston Common?
#4: Can I ask you a quick
question? How do I get to the
Boston Public Library?
#5: Whats the best way to get
from MIT to the South End?
Muffet vobios

45

LESSON 4
HOW TO
MAKE
SMALL
TALK IN
ENGLISH

familymwr

46

6 PHRASES TO BEGIN SMALL TALK

Hi, how are you?


Hows it going? (casual)
Hi, Im Lindsay.
How have you been? (if you
already know the person )

Hey, whats up? (casual)


How is everything?
Official GDC

47

COMMON TOPICS FOR SMALL TALK


The weather
Shared experiences (a
movie that you both just
watched, an event that you
are attending)
Traffic conditions
Sports
Fashion and appearancegiving compliments (more
common for women)
Janineomg, Extra Zebra

48

4 TOPICS TO AVOID DURING SMALL


TALK
Sex or sexual orientation
Religion, religious views or
religious affiliations

Politics, political views,


voting preferences
Money issues including your
income, your monthly rent or
mortgage, or your bank
account balance
49

purpleapple428

LESSON 5

HOW TO
BUY FOOD
AT THE
GROCERY
STORE

qmnonic

50

HOW TO ORDER MEAT & CHEESE AT


THE COUNTER
When you want to order meat
or cheese at the counter, you
should ask for a specific
amount in pounds.
Examples:
I would like two pounds of
American cheese, please.
Could I have a quarter of a
pound of salmon?
I would like a half of a
pound of cod.
goosmurf

In the United States, we use pounds


(lbs.) To translate from your system
to pounds, check the conversion
rates here.
51

LESSON 6
FOOD
VOCABULARY
YOU SHOULD
KNOW

qmnonic

52

FRUIT

A bunch of bananas
A few bunches of
bananas

A bunch of grapes

Two bunches of grapes


Photos: tribp, jessica mullen

53

VEGETABLES

A bunch of tomatoes

A head of cabbage
Two heads of
cabbage
Photos: TinyApartmentCrafts, Ajith_chatie

54

BREAD AND CEREALS


A box of cereal
Two boxes of cereal

A loaf of bread
Five loaves of bread
Photos: Teuobk, lloydcrew

55

EGGS AND CHEESE


A block of cheese
Three blocks of
cheese

A carton of eggs
A few cartons of eggs56
Photo: jules:stonesoup, blisl

SPAGHETTI SAUCE

A can of soup
Two cans of soup
Robert Couse-Baker, Nina Matthews Photography

A jar of spaghetti
sauce
Five jars of spaghetti
57
sauce

ICE CREAM AND MILK


A tub of ice cream
Two tubs of ice cream

A gallon of milk

A few gallons of milk


58

Photos: David Guo Master, snowpea&bokchoi

CHAPTER 5
HOW TO IMPROVE
YOUR ENGLISH IN
BOSTON

59

5 STRATEGIES
TO IMPROVE
YOUR ENGLISH
IN BOSTON

LEARNING IS A
TREASURE
THAT W ILL
FOLLOW ITS
OW NER
EVERYW HERE.
-CHINESE
PROVERB

kristyhall

60

STRATEGY 1
MASTER
ENGLISH
WITH
IMMERSION
AT HOME

Everyone
and
everything
around you is
your teacher.
-Ken Keyes

1000heads

61

WHY ENGLISH IMMERSION AT HOME


IS IMPORTANT
If you plan to take English
classes or work with a private
English tutor while you are
living in Boston, thats great.
However, you must practice the
things you learn in your class
in your daily life.

Lindsays Pro Tip

The most successful students


of English find a way to
practice English at home. You
should set goals for yourself to
speak English for a certain
amount of time each week. It
could be 3 hours, 5 hours or 10
hours. Set your goal.

62

A FEW TIPS ON ENGLISH IMMERSION


AT HOME
Find a home with native
English speakers or with
other international
professionals who want to
practice English
Share dinners, chat with them
in the evening

Speak with the people in your


neighborhood to hear
different accents as much as
possible

63

STRATEGY 2

CHOOSE
THE RIGHT
ENGLISH
TEACHER

Highways Agency

64

STEP 1 : DETERMINE YOUR GOALS


What is important to you?
Do you need a flexible
schedule?
Do you need a convenient
location for your lessons?
Do you want to be able to
make a presentation in
English at work two months
from now?

lautsu

Do you need the lessons to be


completely customized based on
your needs?

65

STEP 2: DECIDE ON YOUR BUDGET

How much are you w illing to


pay?
Keep in mind that customized
lessons, scheduled based on
your availability with an
experienced tutor will be priced
on the high end. However, if
you are serious about reaching
your goals, it may be worth it to
make the investment.

Tax Credits

66

STEP 3: GET RECOMMENDATIONS

Do your friends or colleagues


know an experienced English
teacher?
Start by asking other
international professionals
who they have worked with
and whether or not they
would recommend the
person.
Search online. A good teacher should
have a professional website with plenty of
testimonials and student success stories.
67

STEP 4: ASK FOR A FREE


CONSULTATION
During your consultation, you
should ask these questions:
What qualifications does the
teacher have?

Has the teacher ever studied


a foreign language?
Does the teacher s
experience align with your
needs and goals? (business
English, medical English,
etc.)
68

6 MORE QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING


YOUR CONSULTATION
Has the teacher taught
English outside of the United
States?

Does the teacher speak


clearly without a heavy
regional accent?

Is the teacher flexible in


terms of curriculum and
lesson day and time?

Can the teacher motivate


you?

Is the teacher a native


speaker of English?

Do you enjoy being around


the teacher? Do you feel
comfortable?

69

STEP 5: TAKE A FEW LESSONS AND


EVALUATE
After your second or third
lesson, ask yourself:
Are you looking forward to
each class?
Is your teacher always
prepared for the lessons?
Does your teacher select
material that is appropriate
for your level?
Can your tutor help you
understand difficult parts of
the language and how to use
them correctly?
70

OPTIONS FOR LEARNING ENGLISH IN


BOSTON
YMCA International Learning
Center
Boston Life
Berlitz
Boston Language Institute
Education First
English and Culture
71

Shane Global Language Centers

STRATEGY 3
FIND A
LANGUAGE
EXCHANGE
PARTNER

72

WHAT IS A LANGUAGE EXCHANGE?

A language exchange is an
opportunity for you to practice
English conversation with a
native English speaker on a
regular basis.
In exchange for your time
speaking English, your partner
will be trying to learn your
native language and you will
need to spend half of the time
speaking in your native
language and correcting your
partner s mistakes.
chichacha

73

HOW TO CHOOSE A LANGUAGE


EXCHANGE PARTNER
Look for someone w ho:
Is reliable and can meet
regularly (weekly is best)
Is fun to speak with
Is willing to share the
speaking time (your language
and theirs)
Is a native English speaker
Is willing and able to correct
your mistakes
seafaringwomen

74

WHERE TO FIND A LANGUAGE


EXCHANGE PARTNER
Attend Meetup events in
Boston such as World
Travelers or a Meetup that
focuses on your native
language (there will be native
English speakers there who
want to learn your language)
Ask your friends or
colleagues if they know
anyone who might be
interested
Try My Language Exchange
or Craigslist. You can also
post your own ad on these
sites.

Rusty Clark

75

TWO WARNINGS!
#1) Safety first!
Always meet your language
exchange partner in a public
place such as a caf or library
if you dont know the person.

Steve A Johnson

#2) A language exchange is


not an English class!
Use your language exchange
as a way to practice what you
have learned in your English
class, not to replace your
class. Your partner will not be a
teacher. Dont expect him or
her to prepare exercises for
you or to be able to explain
difficult grammar points.

76

STRATEGY 4

BECOME A
VOLUNTEER

U.S. Army Alaska

77

WHY SHOULD I VOLUNTEER?

Your biggest challenge as an


international professional in
Boston will be finding
opportunities to practice your
English.
When you volunteer your time
at a soup kitchen, a charity, or
another community event, you
will meet and interact with local
people.
You will learn English in a
natural, everyday environment.

mydphotos

If you combine volunteer work with


a weekly English class, you will see
fast improvement with your English.
78

WHERE CAN I VOLUNTEER?


Boston Charity Work:
Through this M eetup group,
you will receive notices about
volunteer opportunities such as
serving food, running in a 5K
race, or handing out sleeping
bags to homeless people .
Haley House:
You can volunteer to do a street
clean-up or to work at a soup
kitchen with this organization.
79

Fort Meade

STRATEGY 5

PREPARE
FOR A
CHALLENGE
TO YOUR
IDENTITY

80

WHATS THE CHALLENGE?


Many of our students tell us
that they feel uncomfortable
speaking English because they
cant express themselves in the
same way that they can in their
native language.
Maybe back home you are
funny or caring, but you dont
know how to be that way in
English and in your new life in
the U.S. because you dont
know the correct vocabulary
words or phrases to use.
Roberto Bouza

81

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Let go of who you are in your


native language
Make space for the new
English-speaking you
Remember that the
connections you make with
people in English will be
different, not better or worse
than the connections you
have made with people in
your native language
82

@MSG

CHAPTER 6
HOW TO MANAGE
THE TRANSITION TO
LIFE IN A NEW
CULTURE

Move to a new
country and you
quickly see that
visiting a place
as a tourist, and
actually moving
there for good,
are two very
different
things.
Tahir Shah

83

THE 3
STAGES OF
CULTURAL
TRANSITION
To m y m i n d ,
t h e g r e a te st
reward and
l u x u ry o f
t r a ve l i s t o b e
able to
e x p e ri ence
e v e r yday
t h i n gs a s i f for
the first time,
to be in a
p o s i ti on i n
wh i c h a l m o s t
n o t h in g i s s o
f a m i l i ar i t i s
t a k en f o r
g r a n ted.
robertotostes

- Bi l l Br y s on 84

WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT WHEN


YOU MOVE ABROAD?
If you have moved or are
planning to move from your
home country to the United
States to study or for your job,
you might be struggling with
feelings of stress and anxiety
but also excitement and a
sense of anticipation !
To make this time of change
easier, it's good to know what
feelings to expect before,
during, and after your move . In
this section, I will help you with
this.
robertotostes

85

THE 3 STAGES OF CULTURAL


TRANSITION

Leaving
home

Neutral
zone

Life in the
new culture

Bridges, William. "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes".

86

STAGE #1 LEAVING HOME


When you find out that you will
be moving to the United States,
you might be really enthusiastic
about the change .
You might start to imagine your
new life in Boston, think about
learning English and about
meeting new people or getting
to know a new city.

You will be optimistic about


your new life and you will start
to disengage and maybe
become bored with your old life
in your home culture.

ohmil

87

STAGE # 2: NEUTRAL ZONE


This is the most challenging
part of the transition. You might
feel a sense of emptiness,
chaos and confusion or
loneliness.
You will be exploring your new
culture and your new city.
Tasks that were simple in your
home country, like opening a
bank account, might be really
difficult and frustrating in
Boston.
At the same time, you are
gaining a new perspective on
life and you are seeing how
people live in a new culture. So
you are growing and stretching
your limits!
Stock Monkeys

88

WAIT! STAGE #2 IS IMPORTANT!


The key to success in your new
life in the United States is getting
comfortable with this awkward
stage. At this point, you will want
to build your cultural intelligence.
Patience and a positive attitude
will make a big difference at this
stage.
Just remember, you might feel
stressed, but it will eventually
pass and you will become a
stronger and more interesting
person after you have gone
through the transition. I promise!

John Loo

89

STAGE #3: BEGINNING LIFE IN A NEW


CULTURE
The final stage is beginning
your new life in the United
States. At this point you will
start to feel at home in your
new city. You will regain your
sense of motivation and clarity.
You will be able to understand
yourself and your own feelings
more clearly. You will have an
easier time focusing at work
and you will be ready to get
started on new projects, like
improving your English.

EoinGardiner

90

CHAPTER 7
HOW TO SUCCEED IN
AMERICAN CULTURE

Culture is the
collective
programming
of the mind,
which
distinguishes
the members
of one group
from another.
-Geert
Hofstede

91

13 THINGS
YOU SHOULD
KNOW ABOUT
AMERICANS

America is so
vast that
almost
everything
said about it is
likely to be
true, and the
opposite is
probably
equally true .
~James T.
Farrell
stuartpilbrow

92

WOULD YOU TAKE A ROAD TRIP


WITHOUT DIRECTIONS?
Would you take a road trip to a
new city without a map or
directions to know where you
are heading? Would you bake a
cake without having any idea
what ingredients you should
use?
If not, then why would you try to
do business or get an education
in the United States without
understanding the people ?!
Are you working closely with
Americans at your job or in
group projects for your graduate
school courses but not quite
understanding the way they
communicate, solve problems,
and view life?
Larry1732

93

ARE THESE JUST STEREOTYPES?


Warning! These are
generalizations. But in this
case, a generalization is a
pattern that is rooted in data
and research. Generalizations
only become stereotypes if you
assume that each and every
American you meet will follow
these patterns. They won't! So
take note of these trends but
also take the time to get to
know people as individuals.
Intercultural trainer and
researcher, Robert Kohls
discovered that there are 13
core values that many
Americans hold as important.
Can you guess what they are?
Nestor Blurrylife

94

#1: THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE IN


CONTROL OF THEIR OWN SUCCESS
In some countries, people
place a lot of weight on luck,
fate, a higher power or the
universe.
In U.S. culture, people hold a
very strong sense that they can
create their own success
through hard work and
dedication.
This also means that some
people in the U.S. will often try
to manipulate the natural
environment around them to
suit their needs.

95

#2: THEY EMBRACE CHANGE


While some cultures remain
centered on tradition and
stability, American culture
embraces change and
considers it natural.
Progress and innovation are
important and many Americans
are often looking for the next
best thing.
I think this is one of the
reasons that the U.S. has
always been a good place for
entrepreneurs with big ideas.
96

#3: THEY VIEW TIME AS A


COMMODITY
Time is valuable in the U.S.
and it shouldn't be wasted. Just
take a look at the expressions
we use in American English
and you will understand that
Americans are constantly
thinking about how to save, not
waste, gain, plan or fill their
time.
Some cultures attend an event
until it comes to a natural end .
Americans attend an event
such as a meeting, until the
clock indicates that the meeting
is over and they move on to the
next thing.
Dawn Huczek

97

#4: THEY VALUE EQUALITY AND


FAIRNESS
This is a bit ironic. Although
the U.S. has more than its
share of problems with racism,
homophobia, and sexism, the
U.S. is a society that does not
recognize hierarchies as much
as other countries .
If you are a member of the
upper class in your home
country and you visit the U.S.,
you will most likely be spoken
to just like everyone else by
waiters in a restaurant, taxi
drivers or hotel staff. Fairness
is a core value that is very
important to many Americans.

Any kind of special treatment


for certain people because
they are wealthier or of a
higher status goes against
core value systems in the U.S.

98

#5: THEY WANT TO BE UNIQUE,


DIFFERENT, AND INDIVIDUAL
From a young age, Americans
from my generation (Generation
Y) have been told that they are
special and different from
everyone else. Americans
believe that it is important to be
unique and stand out from the
group.

stevendepolo

Some will express their


opinions even if they disagree
with the rest of the group.
Having a unique idea or doing
things differently is praised.
Conformity is looked down
upon.
Because Americans value
individualism, they also value
their privacy. At your
workplace, you may view your
American colleagues as "cold"
when they do not invite you for
a coffee or to go out on the
weekends. In reality, they might
be respecting your privacy,
something they consider
extremely important and they
may assume that its equally
important to you.
99

#6: THEY BELIEVE THEY CAN


IMPROVE THEMSELVES
Robert Kohls noted that there
are 100 words that begin with
the word "self" as a prefix in
the English dictionary.
These include self improvement, self -aware, selfconscious, etc.
Americans believe that they
can and will make themselves
successful by working on their
skills and abilities and by
improving their knowledge .
Being born into a wealthy
family and remaining in the
same place is not as admirable
as being born into a poor family
and working your way up the
ladder to achieve success.
Mostafa Saeednejad

Just look at the narrative in so many


American movies. There is often a
"rags to riches" story. Americans love
to see this kind of story because this
is what they aspire to and value.
100

# 7: THEY ARE COMPETITIVE


With the free market system,
there is intense competition in
every aspect of American life
including education, athletics,
business, art, and even
hobbies. Kids' sporting events
often become extremely
competitive as parents can get
heavily involved.

It is relatively easy to start a


business as an entrepreneur in
the United States. With the
internet today, the barriers to
entry have been lowered and
this has only increased
competition as anyone with an
idea can compete with large
corporations .
indywriter

101

#8: THEY ARE MORE INTERESTED IN


THE FUTURE THAN THE PAST
Many Americans tend to be
constantly working toward the
future. For this reason, they
sometimes miss what is
happening in the present and
they place little value on the
past.
These days, parents start
investing in their child's college
savings funds before the child
is even born.
Kids are taught that they need
to achieve high grades as
young as elementary school
because college is down the
road. For Americans, it's all
about the future.
102

#9: THEY LIKE TO TAKE ACTION


In the United States, taking any
action is seen as better than
doing nothing. It is common for
American kids to take part in
tons of different hobbies and
after-school activities like
sports, music, dance or drama .
Because Americans value
action, the American society
has become very oriented
toward "work." A typical work
week in many professions
exceeds 40 hours. Many
professionals become
workaholics" and identify
themselves based on their
career or the company that
they work for.
103

#10: THEY ARE CASUAL AND


INFORMAL
In the workplace, many bosses
or managers like to be
addressed by their first name.
However, you should wait until
you are invited to do this .
The informality that is so
common in American culture is
probably related to the sense
of equality, fairness, and belief
in treating everyone the same
way. Americans are also quite
informal in the way they dress.
In large U.S. cities, you might
see Americans attending a
famous play in blue jeans
whereas in Europe, this might
be unacceptable.

tobyotter

104

#11: THEY ARE DIRECT


While some cultures will avoid
telling you exactly what they
think in order to "save face," in
the United States, many
Americans believe that it is
important to offer an honest
opinion and to communicate
your point directly and openly.
Are you from a country where
there are very specific ways of
delivering negative feedback to
avoid offending someone? If
so, try not to be surprised if the
Americans around you do not
make an effort to "tone down"
their feedback. Be prepared to
get direct feedback from your
colleagues or supervisors in
the United States.
105

#12: THEY ARE PRACTICAL


In American culture, there is
sometimes a rejection of things
that are "overly theoretical" and
are not immediately applicable
or useful.
Academic fields like philosophy
are not as valued as
engineering. Social sciences
like anthropology are looked at
as being less valuable than a
medical or law degree .
Being objective and less
emotional is encouraged when
forming an opinion about
something.
106

#13: THEY LIKE TO ACQUIRE


MATERIAL THINGS
Although this might be
changing in U.S. culture today
due to the recent recession,
the U.S., which values hard
work, also values acquisition of
material things as a reward for
the hard work.
People buy cars every two to
three years. Intercultural
trainer, Robert Kohls argued
that Americans place a higher
priority on acquiring material
wealth than on building
interpersonal relationships and
bonds with other people.

dno1967b

107

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR


YOU?
It is so easy to misunderstand
people when we are living in a
new culture. As I mentioned
above, an American's attempt
to respect your privacy, which
is a core value in the U.S .,
could appear to you as "cold"
or "impersonal. This is only
one example. There are many
more that you probably
encounter in your everyday life .

Now that you know the 13 core


values of American people, see
if you can use this knowledge
to make your everyday life a
little bit easier and perhaps
more satisfying in the United
States.
THRILLHO

108

CHAPTER 8
4 STEPS TO SUCCESS
IN THE AMERICAN
WORKPLACE

109

STEP 1
I NTERPRET
N O N VER BAL
C O M M U N I C ATION

W hat you do
speaks so
loud that I
cannot hear
what you
say.
-Ralph Waldo
Emerson

Think London

110

STEP 2

MASTER THE
HANDSHAKE

buddawiggi

111

6 CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD
HANDSHAKE
To make a good impression in a
business or academic
environment, your handshake
should be:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

CeBIT

Firm but not too hard


Gentle
Professional
Web of both hands touching
2 or 3 pumps
Includes eye contact

112

WHY DOES THE HANDSHAKE


MATTER?
People in the U.S. will make judgments about your character based
on your handshake. If you are from a culture where handshakes are
not a custom, be aware that they are important here!
Common handshake mistakes:
A weak handshake shows that you are unsure of yourself and
lacking in self confidence.
A handshake that is too strong shows that you are trying to get
too close too quickly and that you want to make something
happen or that you are aggressive.

113

STEP 3

UNDERSTAND
EYE
CONTACT IN
AMERICAN
CULTURE

orangeacid

114

WHY SHOULD YOU MAKE DIRECT


EYE CONTACT?
In U.S. culture, direct eye
contact show s:
1. Confidence
2. Interest
3. Attentiveness
4. Honesty
5. Acknowledging the
presence of the other
person: I see you

Think London

115

STEP 4

NOTICE HOW
TIME IS USED
DIFFERENTLY
IN THE U.S.
Time is money

116

HOW DO PEOPLE USE TIME IN YOUR


CULTURE?
Before you read this section,
take a minute to think about
your own cultural assumptions
about time.
Do you use a specific block of
time to accomplish many things
like building relationships while
working on a project or would
you rather build relationships
with colleagues when the
project is finished?
Take a look at the chart on the
next page for more examples.
117

Nina Matthews Photography

WHICH DESCRIBES YOUR HOME


CULTURE?
Mono-chronic Cultures
Tasks are accomplished one
at a time
Deadlines are fixed
Working relationships are
often short-term

Poly-chronic Cultures
Many tasks can be
accomplished at the same
time
Deadlines are flexible
Good working relationships
must be built over a long
period of time

Cultures include:
Cultures include :

United States, Canada,


Northern European cultures

Latin American cultures, Middle


Eastern cultures, African
cultures
118

TIME ORIENTATION IN THE UNITED


STATES
The concept of time in
American culture:

Time is rigid, not flexible


We are schedule oriented
We prefer to do one thing at
a time
Punctuality shows respect

roland

119

AMERICAN ENGLISH AND TIME!


To be out of time
The project deadline is
tomorrow so I am out of time.
To have spare time
Sunday is the only day that I
have spare time.

To happen in the nick of time


I arrived at the airport just in the nick
of time.
graymalkn

To be on time
I was glad to see that the
client was on time for our
meeting.

120

CHAPTER 9
HOW TO HELP YOUR
FAMILY ADJUST TO
AMERICAN CULTURE

121

There are
no seven
wonders of
the world
in the eyes
of a child.
There are
seven
million.
-Walt
Streightiff

photoloni

122

IS YOUR CHILD EXPERIENCING


LANGUAGE SHOCK?
As an international
professional living and
working in the United States,
one of the first things on your
mind is probably your family.

Perhaps you have brought them


here to the United States for
your international work
assignment. You have enrolled
them in school and you have
joined a few play groups with
American kids in your
neighborhood.
When you arrived in the U.S.
you said to yourself, "They are
just kids. Kids are pretty
strong. They adapt quickly. It
should be easier for them than
it will be for us, as adults .
But then you start to notice
some strange things happening
with your child.

Knowles Gallery

123

YOUR CHILD AND LANGUAGE SHOCK

You should know the ways in


which language shock might be
affecting your child's
adjustment to life and school in
the U.S.
This section will help you to
navigate the process of cultural
adjustment with your child.

KellBaily

124

YOUR
CHILD AND
LANGUAGE
SHOCK
5 THINGS
YOU
SHOULD
KNOW

fiskfisk

125

#1 STRESS GETS IN THE WAY

Linguist Stephen Krashen


called it the "affective filter."
Your child has a lot of barriers
standing between him and
mastery of the English
language.
Most of those barriers have
more to do with feelings of
stress, self -consciousness and
fear of standing out than the
actual language.

miamism

126

#2: ANXIETY MAY CREATE A LACK OF


MOTIVATION
Would you feel comfortable
walking into a class where no
one speaks your native
language and where you are
confused 95% of the time?
This is what your child is going
through every day. It makes it
hard to stay motivated to learn
English.

USFWS/Southeast

127

#3 OTHER STUDENTS MIGHT BE


IGNORANT
The parents of your child's
friends or even your child's
teacher might make comments
that to them, seem innocent,
but for your child, could further
derail his progress .

Other kids in the class might


make fun of your child. A lot of
them may not have traveled
abroad and will not understand
why your child speaks English
with a different accent.

Zalouk webdesign

128

#4 YOUR CHILD MIGHT PRETEND TO


UNDERSTAND WHEN SHE DOESNT
It is common for English
learners of any age to pretend
they understand what is going
on when they actually do not .
If adults do this, you can
imagine that kids do it even
more. As a child, it is often
painful to stand out. So they
pretend to "get it" when they
don't.

SteFou

129

#5 YOUR CHILD MAY FEEL TORN


BETWEEN HIS NATIVE LANGUAGE AND
ENGLISH
At school, she undergoes
teasing and ridicule because
she doesn't speak English. At
home, she hears her native
language (Polish, Italian,
Japanese) and is told she must
not lose touch with her home
culture.
How does your child deal with
this? She might reject her
native language and take on
English (verbal and non -verbal
communication) as her new
way of communicating.
shawnzrossi

130

6 WAYS TO
HELP YOUR
CHILD
SUCCEED
IN THE U.S .

Jenn Durfie

131

#1: TEAM UP WITH A TEACHER


"You, as the parent, are the bridge
between your child and the school",
said Dr. McMahon, an Early
Childhood Development
professional. Look for signs of
distress in your child at home and
ask her about her days at school.

Try to sense what is behind the


words. Your child's teacher
might not be aware of how
different your home culture is
from U.S. culture. "How can
your child's teacher motivate
him to learn if the teacher
doesn't have any knowledge
about his home culture?" Dr.
McMahon added.
Suggest to your child's teacher
that culture might be part of
what is making the adjustment
difficult and encourage the
teacher to learn a bit more.

I_Believe_

132

#2: REMEMBER THAT AGE AND


PERSONALITY MATTER
"The younger the child, the
more adaptable, but a sociable
and flexible personality would
have a positive influence no
matter the age of the child",
said Dr. McMahon.
Has your child ever lived
abroad in the past? Many kids
who have already adapted to a
second culture are likely to
understand the feelings that
they are experiencing more
than those who haven't.

limaoscarjuliet

133

#3: BE VOCAL AND TALK TO SCHOOL


ADMINISTRATORS
Your child has grown up in a
very different educational
system with different norms,
values and communication
styles.
She is now in a whole new
system, where the curriculum
and teaching methods might
not feel natural to her. Schools
need to start taking cultural
backgrounds of the kids into
account when they design
textbooks. Speak with the
school leaders to make sure
this becomes a priority.
familymwr

134

#4: HELP OTHER PARENTS WHO


HAVE RECENTLY ARRIVED
If you have been here for a
little while and you have
learned a lot, why not pass that
knowledge down to other
parents who have recently
relocated to the U.S.?
Team up to approach the
administration and the teachers
in order to be heard more
clearly and to let them know
that your child is coming from a
different culture and has
different needs when it comes
to learning.
135

RDECOM

#5: EDUCATE YOURSELF


You observe your child every day
and you know that he is
struggling with the adjustment.
Did you know that there is an
entire field of research on this
topic? There are also
professionals who can help you.
Browse around the web for
studies that have been written on
"Third Culture Kids" or "Expat
Kids".
Check out International Family
Transitions for some helpful
information.

Jason Riedy

136

#6: WORK WITH AN EXPERT


As mentioned above, there are
professional cross -cultural
trainers who specialize in
helping children transition to
life in a new culture. Contrary
to popular belief, the skills that
are needed to cross cultures
successfully are not intuitive .
Consider working with a
specialist to help your child
navigate this exciting but
stressful time.
Here at English and Culture,
we do not specialize in working
with kids but feel free to
contact us and we will give you
some ideas about how to get in
touch with the right person
.

Mish Bradley

137

BUILDING SKILLS TO COMPETE IN AN


INTERCONNECTED WORLD
Most importantly, try to help
you child relax into the chaos.
Remember that he is building
skills that will become crucial
in his personal and
professional life in the 21 st
century including:

Tolerance of ambiguity
Language proficiency
In-depth cultural knowledge
Cross-cultural communication
skills
Empathy
Curiosity
maveric2003

138

Life is
either a
daring
adventure
or nothing.
-Helen
Keller

139

FINAL THOUGHTS
I would like to thank you for
using this guide. I truly hope
that we have given you the
information, confidence, and
inspiration that you need to
succeed in your new life in
Boston.
As you begin your new life
here, remember that while
every day will have its
challenges, you have a chance
to learn and grow immensely
during your time in a new
country. When you return
home, you will remember the
challenges and the discoveries
with fondness.

Good luck and feel free to reach out if


you have any other questions or
suggestions for this book!
Sincerely,
140

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Jason A. Howie

141

I FEEL VERY
AD VEN TU R O U S.
TH ER E AR E SO
M ANY DOORS
TO B E O PEN ED ,
AN D I M N O T
AFR AI D TO
L O O K BEH I N D
TH EM .

EL I ZABETH
TAYL O R

muffintinmom

142

CREDITS
Kohls, Robert. Guide To American Values,
http://interculturalcomm.wikispaces.com/Kohl%27s+Guide+to+Am
erican+Values
Bridges, William. "Transitions : Making Sense of Life's Changes.
Miller, P.C. and Endo, H. (2004). Understanding and meeting the
needs of ESL learners. Phi Delta Kappan, 786-791.
All photos are being used under a Creative Commons Commercial
license. Links and credits can be found at the bottom of each
individual page.

143