Learning to Embrace American Culture

Learning to Embrace American Culture

I know I've already discussed the cultural differences between the US and Europe in my previous blogs, but I still keep noticing differences! Below are some guidelines on how to handle and embrace these American habits.


1. Make friendships in restrooms

Yes, toilets. I am still not used to them. I know this must sound very weird, but after I explain this, you’ll understand me. Public toilets, and even the ones at work, have little gaps between the door and the side of the door. So that means that while you’re there, you might make eye contact with the person washing their hands. How convenient! New friendships are born while sitting on the toilet, hooray. Dreams coming true. Honestly though, it still freaks me out every time.


The gap, courtesy of howtoplayhouse.com


2. Be social and open

Life in D.C. and in America is a lot more social than in Belgium. Everyone is up to do something almost every time of the day. People are so incredibly social and friendly around here, which is refreshing since people often tend to be quite grumpy in Belgium (which can probably be explained by the weather). The weather there is SO depressing: it rains more than it doesn’t rain. Wonderful Belgian life…


But here, everyone is happy to meet you and talk to you even when you just met them. Every person I met is just so excited to help you out. As part of the LEAD Colloquium, for example, we have to do two informational interviews with people we never met before. Not knowing how to be social or how to even talk to people, I awkwardly asked colleagues in my office if they knew someone. Every one of them has gladly helped me, and I met 4 professionals in 3 weeks for my interviews, all so happy to talk to me! This just makes the grumpy Belgian in me a really happy girl.


3. Embrace every new opportunity

Even though you may go through a little cultural shock when you first arrive here, embrace these new opportunities to get to know a whole different culture. Yes, some American things are definitely weird in the eyes of Europeans, but a lot of them are also just super awesome! Also, regarding your professional development, say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. This could include work colleagues asking to grab coffee to hear more about your time here, or people trying to connect you with others in the field. Everybody will be glad to help you even when you didn’t ask for it, which is a very American thing but also a very useful and good one. Even though some things keep surprising me, I’m having one of the best experiences I’ve ever had thanks to my internship, a new culture and food and new friendships.


Your Embracing European,



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