Personal experience: what is better not to do in the USA, so as not to get into an awkward position
A native of Russia Karina, known on Instagram as @karina_kudinova, has been living in the USA for 5 years. Especially for publication AdMe.ru she shared information about what is best not to do in the US if you do not want to get into an awkward situation, get a significant fine, or even deal with the police.
Next - from the first person.
My name is Karina. I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, got an education there and got married. And in 2014, my husband and I moved to Seattle (Washington), where we are both working in the IT industry. Today's my story is about why tourists in the States often fall into the trap.
12. Think twice about what to bring with you to the USA
Before traveling, be sure to check out Online US Customs and Border Guard with a list of what needs to be declared upon entering the country and what cannot be transported at all. The second item, in particular, includes sausage, dairy products, seeds, plants and much more. But canned products of industrial production, with the exception of products containing meat or chicken, can be imported for personal use.
It is clear that if you are flying simply as a tourist, then you probably do not plan to take any of this, but if you are going to visit, you can unknowingly capture something.
My friend once carried some exotic spices, which actually were seeds. All this was seized in the control and made a note in the personal file. At the next such violation, she faces a fine of $ 300. Why, there, once my parents laid seeds with them for a friend of theirs who could not find a certain variety of tomatoes. Now every time on the border with addiction, they inspect all my things.
11. Tipping in the USA is not 10%, but 15 – 20%
Moreover, 15% is if you are dissatisfied with the service, and 20% is the standard if you liked everything. And, to be honest, I and my friends have more than once faced with the fact that the waiter can come up and ask if there are any mistakes if the tip does not meet this standard. Now you can often see that tips are already included in the bill, so be careful when paying.
On the subject: 'Russian mainland': what affects our people who moved to the USA
It is also important to know that it is customary to leave a tip here for all services, and not just in restaurants. Haircut, manicure, car wash - wherever you have been provided a service.
10. Restaurants must be booked in advance.
I can’t say what this is connected with, but waiting lists and long lines at restaurants are a normal thing for the USA. This applies even to inexpensive establishments. Therefore, if you value your time, then book a table in advance.
9. Purchase taxes not shown on price tags
In addition, each state has its own tax (most often the spread is + 5 – 10% of the purchase price). And we, in the state of Washington, generally have different taxes in different cities. Therefore, when at the checkout you see another, higher cost of goods, do not be alarmed, this is not a mistake, this is the same tax.
8. Prepare a trifle to travel by bus
If you are going to move around the city by public transport, be prepared for the fact that they don’t give change there. Payment is made through a special terminal, which is simply not equipped for this. Cards are also not accepted for payment. So, once a trip to a distance of just 2 stops cost me $ 10 because I was late.
7. Not All America Is Equally Safe
As elsewhere, the US is full of contrasts. In the same Seattle, where I live, there are areas where you can leave a full car of things open - no one will take anything, but somewhere they just will not be afraid to break the glass in a guarded parking lot. Both this and that happened to me.
Most areas are really as safe as possible, and tourists often forget about the basic safety rules. Last year, with a difference of about 2, 2 weeks of my friends were robbed in San Francisco. “We just got out of the car for a second to take a photo, and things remained in the back seat.” Then they had to fly to another state to recover documents for leaving the country.
Separately, I note the Tenderloin area in San Francisco, which you just need to bypass. It is dangerous there, while the area is located in the heart of the city and borders on prestigious neighborhoods. I wandered into it somehow by accident and I’m very glad that nothing happened to me. But my girlfriend pulled out a phone right in the afternoon.
6. If something happens to you on a trip, do not run to Emergency
It's funny, but even many locals do not know about it. The fact is that in the USA there are 2 types of institutions where you can get emergency medical care: Emergency и Urgent Care.
What is the difference? Emergency is an emergency medical care, and you should only go there if your condition is life threatening. They are involved in serious injuries and saving lives, and bills from there amount to thousands of dollars.
For minor illnesses and injuries, you should contact Urgent Care (ambulance). Prices there are not the most pleasant, but much lower than in Emergency. In general, as much as the appointment of a specialist - several hundred dollars.
5. Absurd laws still exist in some states.
Probably, some US romance lies in the fact that each of them lives his own life, but this must be taken into account while traveling. Some states have strange laws that really need to be respected. For example, in Oregon, you can’t refuel a car yourself - there are special people at gas stations for this. For violation of this law a fine is provided.
4. Parking is not an easy task
If you rented a car, then be careful when parking - here it is very seriously checked whether you have parked your car correctly.
Do not try to leave the car opposite the fire hydrant or too close to it. Not only is a fine imposed for this, but if firemen need this hydrant, they can simply break the windows in the car to gain access to it. Also, you cannot leave the car in one place for more than 72 hours - it can be taken to a parking lot. And it will fly a pretty penny.
And in general, be sure to look at the signs on the sidelines. Somewhere you can park only for an hour, somewhere at 2, somewhere parking is allowed only at certain hours.
3. What you need to know about bank cards
Be prepared for the fact that Russian cards do not always “pass through” in American stores and restaurants. Be sure to bring cash with you just in case, if you do not want to part with the tidy amount of commission for withdrawing money from local ATMs.
Not everywhere there is PayPass and ApplePay, so before complaining about a broken terminal, check if it is equipped with these wonderful inventions of mankind.
2. There are topics to avoid when dealing with Americans.
Many of the topics that we often discuss are considered inappropriate or even offensive in the United States. This, in particular, racial and gender issues, religious preferences, overweight. Naturally, you can not use the words in the letter H in relation to black Americans.
It is also worth refraining from exclamations such as “Oh God!”, “Lord!”: They can be negatively perceived by religious people, of whom there are many. After each “My God” that flies out, I peer with horror at the face of the interlocutor to see if he considers me a fiend of hell.
In addition, Americans are very law abiding. And this is awesome. But once, with a colleague, I blurted out that in Russia I downloaded one of the torrents. She looked at me as if I had cleaned a piggy piggy bank for a disabled orphaned child with an incurable disease. I’m not joking anymore about such a thing.
1. Turning to red is normal
The right turn to the red light is a standard situation in the USA, it is allowed by law. If there is no separate sign that this place is prohibited. I single this out as a separate point, because even smiling and good-natured Americans often begin to flaunt frantically if you are standing on that very turn and blocking the passage.
Bonus: do not forget that you can get into an awkward situation in the USA with your compatriots
In the USA, you quickly realize that you have a superpower, which is that you understand the whole speech, and your Russian is nobody. Our neighbor Bryan, for example, knows for sure that if I spoke in a company in Russian, then this is no coincidence, and I will most likely with a sweet smile complain about something. But this superpower has a downside - you can still get into trouble, especially in tourist places.
Once we arrived at the observation deck to the famous Hollywood sign to take a photo. At some point, the turn comes to 6 young guys. And away we go - they took pictures together, individually, in pairs, together again, but with bare torsos. Her husband already bursts out of indignation, “How can such $ @ *; '# be something ?!” Immediately one of them came up to him and in pure Russian wondered if he could take a picture of them. I burst into tears of laughter with laughter. They apparently heard and decided to revenge him so wittily.
And one of my friends in the mountains on a narrow path ran into a chubby woman, who couldn’t get around. Without thinking twice, he told his friend something from the American-Weight-Burger series. The woman turned around and said: “Come in, if in such a hurry.” Oh, he was ashamed. I would die on the spot.
Here, perhaps, are all the main points that I would like to draw attention to. The United States is an amazing country where you can spend unforgettable time and love her forever, but, of course, you must go prepared so that all emotions are not blurred by some unpleasant event.
Have you ever happened to be in awkward situations when you were abroad?
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