ELC Los Angeles’ 700-level Grammar students spent a week studying American friendships and relationships. At the end of the week, they wrote blog posts to help foreigners coming to the U.S. for the first time. The students wrote about American relationships, food, transportation, and the CVS Walk-In clinics. Here are a few excerpts from those blogs to help new students learn a little more about American culture.
LA 360: Relationships between American people
While in some countries friendships between neighbors are not so important and developed, and sometimes you don’t know the person who lives next to you, in Los Angeles this doesn’t exist in some areas. In Culver City for example, neighbors share community meetings, keep an eye on your house, warn you of trouble in the neighborhood, and greet when they see you. Americans have a smile for each other every day, but it’s also true that this kind of relationship is not deep and often based on opportunism and superficiality. In fact, for American people it is unusual to turn to a friend while having a problem or need help, like in other countries people usually do. This is because of their limited intimacy. Americans are known to have numerous relationships, but not the same kind of relationships as in other countries. In general, they choose their friends outside of work and social context, giving them a specific role in their life. They have “dinner friends”, “gym friends,” or friends who have their children in the same school as yours, but they keep everything separated and those relations are not going to last forever.
By Jessica, Aurelie, Inas and Justus. Edited by Jaehee and Haitong.
American Interactions with Friends
When making friends in the United States, Americans tend to make friends in almost any place. They usually have perfunctory interactions with people in parties, on school campus, the gym, library and school activities. Americans mostly talk about everyday topics such as work, school, weather, or news. When people chat for the first time Americans consider asking personal questions is rude such as asking about personal income, marital status, age and private information. These conversations should be brief and fun instead of feeling pressured to answer unwanted questions. Also, it is common to have friends for certain activities. For instance, a shopping or a hiking friend. In the beginning, you shouldn’t do extreme activities with people you just met. Instead, it is better to get to know them first and connect with them, find out what they are interested in and what they are good at. A big majority of international students have difficulty making friends in the United States. It is very common because the process needs time and patience. One good way to make friends faster and easier is to enroll with a specific group. For example, register at a web page such as meetup.com. You can find a school that teaches something you are interested in or find a team of some sort that works on, or performs something you are interested in. Also, try to attend social events to meet different types of people. You may also ask a friend to introduce you to people they know. Last but not least, once you get out and start exploring, you will realize how easy and fun it is!
By Maria and Raghad. Edited by Raghad, Maissa and Aaron.
One thing that you will notice about Americans right away is their love of food. You will see huge rows of restaurants standing right next to each other on the streets. Most of them are cheap fast food restaurants where you can pick up your food and drive home or stay there to eat. If you like to eat hamburgers and junk food , there are some places you will have to try out when visiting Los Angeles. The two famous and “better” versions of McDonalds on the west coast are the restaurants In ’n Out and Five Guys. For little money you will get tasty burgers on which you can put any ingredients you like for free. If you want to have an even more special experience, you should ask for the “secret meal” that not many people know about. If you want to try out a bit more expensive and unusual burger, you should go to Umami Burger in Santa Monica. Other places you should really go to are Diddy Riese and Yogurtland. There you get ice-cream which you can use with cookies as a kind of sandwich or, the healthier version, choose whichever yogurt you like and put toppings like fruits, cookies, chocolate, etc on it. Moreover, if you enjoy eating pizza, you have to try out California Pizza Kitchen or 800 Degrees. They have really fresh ingredients and a great selection of different types of pizza you can choose from. Last but not least, you have to try out the Cheesecake Factory. Try one of their fantastic cheesecakes! The food there is definitely worth the money. Also, keep in mind that tips are a “golden rule” in the US. You are supposed to leave a tip about 15-20% when eating at a restaurant. For more detailed information, go to http://usatravel.about.com/od/Plan-Your-Trip/tp/Dos-And-Donts-For-USA-Travel.htm.
By Lena, Yewon, Maria, and Eduardo