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COMING To America- Ten Tips that nobody tells you...

by Sonal Kulshrestha (An Indian American Take)                                            

 (Photo Credit: Copyright desideewar)

            As fall semester nears here in America, we see an influx of new students from India all set to work hard and earn the American dream. There are also those who come directly to work here. During my 20 years of living in America, I've seen and met many newbies and was of course myself "fresh off the boat" (FOB, actually plane but let's leave it at boat) at one point. While many of us watch, notice and ease into the 'American' way, there are many a people who would do so much better if they have a list of things to "imbibe" as second nature that doesn't quite come as naturally, coming from India. And here is THAT list-

1. Physical space is very important. Coming from India, we're used to having a crowd around us, here if you get too close to others at the water cooler or the coffee maker, you're bound to get a curt 'excuse me'. So keep your distance. Everywhere.

2. Verbal space is just as important. Talk when others are not talking, wait patiently and listen well while they are. I have seen too many Indians at work who need to be told 'let me finish' at meetings. Don't be that person. And while we are on the subject of talking, here's another tip- it helps to talk slowly and coherently. Remember we're the ones with an accent here.

3. 'Please' and 'Thank You' are a must. Use these as often as possible. 'Yes, please', 'Sure, thank you' should be very commonly uttered phrases.

4. Please hold the door open if you see someone coming right behind you. If you're a man, stay behind and hold the door for the 

lady, otherwise move on inside and hold the door, allowing him to take over the door. Thank you!

5. To stare is not normal. If you make an eye contact with someone, but you neither break the eye contact, nor acknowledge the eye contact with a smile, a tight lipped smile ( oh yes, you'll learn to do that) or a simple 'Hi'- then you should know that you're staring! Quick- do one of the four things mentioned in this point.

6. Applying oil on hair is truly good for hair. I agree. But it's a hair care regime that needs to be followed in the privacy of your home, just like any other skin care/ teeth care/ body care routine that you follow in your bathroom.

7. Do know that 'V' and 'W' are two separate letters in English, each with it's own connotation, unlike what we have in Hindi- just a 'व'.  So don't say 'Grapewine' for Grapevine, 'vine' for wine, 'vine' for 'whine', etc as if they all have a 'व' in them.

8. Boys, please don't put your arms around other boy's shoulders every time there's a camera in front of you. Unless you ARE "together". Thank you!

9. A 'no' is a 'no'. Reason if you must, but please don't beg. I had a professor once who had to resort to placing a notice in his office that said "No Begging Allowed'. Btw, that applies everywhere.

10. Please use deodorant. No. Not talcum powder. And no, perfume is not enough, that's to be used on top of the deodorant.

All that said, know that you are perceived as smart and intelligent beings here in America simply by the virtue of being Indian (unless proved otherwise). So hold your head high and carry yourself courteously and confidently! Best of luck for all your endeavors!


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 Shraddha said:

I regularly read your posts on desideewar & find them very informative and interesting. Love the fact that you cover a broad range of topics! Keep up the good work!!

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