Travelling to new places can make a person nervous and apprehensive, and more so if you are travelling to a new country. The uncertainty of what to expect in your new environment may occasionally send chills down your spine. For all its glory and popularity, The USA is not immune to this association. Although for the most part people are generally excited and eager to finally land in the United States of America, there is no denying the fact that the prospective of travelling to this glorious land still causes some anxiety to people.
However, there is really nothing to fear about being in the USA. Its people are some of the most diverse and open-minded in the world, and they are generally very welcoming of foreigners. That being said however, there are some aspects of the country that you may find completely unusual, and some may be downright absurd. Here is what to expect when you travel to the United States for the first time, as well as some tips to help you sail through your first days there with ease:
The Country is Vast
You may not intend to cruise through all the fifty states of the union, but the vastness of the country will surprise you all the same. The country is divided into six time zones, which is proof enough of just how big it is. Flights between two states may be as long as flights between the country and some cities in Europe. You should therefore brace yourself for long flights if you have to commute between two states.
As you purchase many things, you should be aware that often, what you will actually pay is different from what the price tags show. And the difference will be to your detriment, because the price is bound to be higher. This is because most of the goods are showcased at untaxed prices, so until you get to the counter to pay for your goods, you can never exactly tell how much you are going to pay for them. The vagueness maybe something of a bother to a first-time traveller to the United States, but unless you are willing to memorize the tax rates of different goods in different states, you have to put up with it.
Before you travel to the United States, it is imperative that you confirm whether or not you need a visa to visit the country. This is because there are people of certain nationalities who are exempted from needing to have a visa so as to be in the country for a given period of time. For others, a visa is an absolute necessity in order to access the country. Fortunately though, you can apply for an online visa. Sites like ESTA make it quite convenient and will save you heaps of time. In addition to the visa, you should also keep all your other travelling documentation intact and within easy reach. It will ease your travel worries a great deal.
Remember to give tips
The tipping culture is one that is deeply ingrained in the American people, and visitors are expected to follow it as well. This means that at hotels and restaurants, you are expected to tip waiters- a tip of about 20% is the norm in the country, although it is not mandatory. The case is the same for any person who renders you some service or other- from the person who delivers food you ordered to your home to the person who helps you park your car.
Respect personal space
Another deep-seated culture among Americans is that of respecting personal space. Handshakes are about as far as body contact between strangers goes in this country, but the customary greeting is a brief and stiff nod of the head. It is also very important that you respect order and queues wherever you find some. Americans do not take too well to cutting queues- you risk getting yelled at, which is nothing short of embarrassing. And if someone asks you how your day is, simply say it is good- that question is generally regarded as a rhetorical question, and not an opportunity to voice all your day’s woes to disinterested strangers.
If you are feeling a bit uneasy about your near- future trip to the United States, there is no need to panic as that is perfectly normal. However, given the broad outlook that many Americans have to life, there is really no need to fear. The country is one of the most metropolitan countries on earth, and you will fit in sooner than you expect.