Saturday, September 23, 2023

Traveling to the US: this is how you start a conversation with an American

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

When you go to a new place, it is crucial to learn the manners of the people you will find there. And that is true for many reasons.

For your safety, entertainment, understanding with locals and ultimately for your purpose of visiting.

In this post, we’ll look at a crucial aspect of your visit to the US: how to talk to people you meet.

As you know, American society is multicultural a. There are people here from all walks of life. Learning to talk to everyone can be a bit of a challenge. The good news, however, is that learning to talk to an American is the same as learning to talk to others, as everyone here lives and tells the American way.

Introducing ESTA: The Fastest Travel Permits to Enter the US

Are you traveling to the US? How do you enter the country? I assume you have applied for a US visa. That must have taken forever to process. Request one next time ESTA instead of. It takes 72 hours to process a US ESTA and the permit is valid for two years, during which time you can visit the US and stay in the US for up to 90 days.

ESTA is not part of today’s topic of conversation. I just felt compelled to share this wonderful secret with you. I know that many American travelers have no idea about the existence of the ESTA.

So what is the ESTA?

Known as Electronic System for Travel Authorization, ESTA is an automated authorization system that grants travelers access to the US for up to 90 days.

A typical ESTA application costs less than $20, which is relatively inexpensive compared to the regular US visa application fee. Once approved, you can also use an ESTA USA authorization for one of the three purposes below:

The only downside of the ESTA USA is that not everyone can apply. Only citizens of countries covered by the US Visa Waiver Program can apply. Currently there are 40 of these countries. You can follow this ESTA Status Check to see if your country is among them. After opening the link, check the menu in the top pane of the site. You will find a list of options including Home, Contact, ESTA IN TIMES OF COVID19 and VWP COUNTRIES. Click on the VWP COUNTRIES to see the list of countries in the ESTA USA program. If you are qualified to enter the US with ESTA USA, you will know.

How do you start a conversation with an American?

Ooooh, that’s a great distraction. I’m sure it was worth it. Now someone know about ESTA USA† I’m glad I finally got the chance to pass on the knowledge.

Now, back to the topic of the day: how to strike up a conversation with Americans. How do you do that?

  1. Ask about their day† “So how was your day today” is always a great conversation starter everywhere. And even more so in the US, where people are responding positively to the demand.

Whether you bump into someone at the store, run into a co-worker at work, or get on the bus from home with your neighbor, asking about their day is always a good way to loosen them up.

This question can be extended to other times of the day. Different variations include how your night was, how your day is going, how your evening is going, how your day is so far, etc.

In other parts of the world, asking someone how their day went might be answered with an answer like, “Fine. My day was okay.’ In the US, however, this is not the case. When you ask someone how their day was, they like to believe that you are genuinely interested in the details. So they start to spill. From the moment they log off from work to the kid who stared at them at the cafe, Americans will share every detail of their day with you. Please don’t blame them. That’s just who they are.

  1. Seek help or seem to need help

Americans want nothing more than a chance to help, especially when they realize you’re new. It seems that they get joy and satisfaction from helping others.

When you arrive in a place in the country and it seems like you don’t know how to start a conversation, walk up to someone and ask them something that shows that you need their help. You might say, “Hey, sorry to bother you. Where can I find a decent restaurant around here?’ You can also ask someone for directions to a place, the location of a place, or help with something trivial (e.g. taking a picture of yourself).

  1. Ask about their origin

The great thing about the US is that almost everyone is not what they seem. Just because someone looks like a US citizen doesn’t mean they are actually a citizen. The United States is a multicultural space. And as such, there has been a lot of blood mixing over the years.

When in doubt about what to say to someone, ask about their background. Everyone knows that the US is full of people from different cultures, so people usually don’t take offense when people ask about their background.

What part of the US are you from?” you can say, “So, where are you from?” “Are you from here? [name of the city you are in]†

Indeed, if someone is interested in talking to you, you can expect this simple question to open a floodgate of conversation.

Hypothetical example:

You: So, Harry, are you from here (as in, Santa Clara)?

Harry: Oh, no. My grandfather moved to the US from Ireland in the 1970s. That’s how my family ended up here.

  1. Put yourself in the shoes of the weatherman

Snowy, windy, cloudy and stormy conditions feel normal to Americans. It’s what they grew up to know.

Talking about the strange weather can be a good conversation starter for you. As a foreigner, however, you may think differently. And that’s okay.

You can ask simple questions like, “I felt freezing when I took a bath this morning. Was it cold with you too? “Is it right to snow at this time of year?” “It doesn’t snow where I come from; how long does the snow season last here in the usa?

  1. Ask for weekend plans

Americans almost always have weekend plans. Ask someone about their plans for Saturday or Sunday and see how much they have to tell you.

“So, what’s there to do here on Saturday?” “Hey Violet, do you have plans for the weekend?”

  1. Mode of transport:

You can start a convo with an American by talking about their mode of transport or mode of transport. “So, Brady, where did you come to work/school? “Did you take Trax to work?” “I took Uber last week, I really liked their service. Do you taste them too?

How not to start a conversation with an American

  1. don’t look scary

Being creepy is when you stare at people for a long time without talking to them. Don’t stare at people for long if you know you’re not willing to greet or speak to them. Don’t do that in the US.

  1. Don’t ask about the value of items

Americans may find it offensive that someone asks about their purchasing power. Don’t say, “how much does your shoe cost” unless you are that close to the person.

  1. Talking in jargon

Forget the things you see in Hollywood. Americans frown at people who talk to them in slang (unless you’re acquaintances).

“Yo, Whazzup my G?” That may not go down well with everyone.

  1. Using the wrong words

Familiarize yourself with words Americans find offensive before you get there. For example, telling someone that “you look tired” can be an insult. To them, that’s more or less like saying they don’t look great or terrible.

  1. Asking a favor from someone you just met

You can ask for small favors, like directions (as we noted earlier), but asking for money from someone you just met is a big no-no.

  1. Ask someone you just met personal questions

When you meet someone for the first time, keep the rapport informal/formal and don’t start asking, “So, where do you work?”

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