Welcome to the USA – Part 11

A survey of the Hancock International College staff and faculty returned some interesting results that might surprise our ESL students. It seemed everyone’s American parents or grandparents had words of wisdom that revolved around three major subjects: Safety, Time and Cleanliness. Americans are in some ways different than other countries because of their values in this regard. Let’s look at how this is true.

According to harrisburg.psu.edu,

Usage of First Name, Last Name, and Title

  • Most Americans, even in a business setting, will prefer to be called by their first name. However, it is good principle to address them by their title (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., or Professor) and last name unless you are invited to do otherwise.

  • Americans may call you by your first name once they’re introduced to you. This is not considered rude, but may reflect a casual style.

  • In general, it is polite to initially call a woman Miss (Ms.) until you’re invited to do otherwise.

  • Using ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’ are not common

‘First of all, the first name is the given name, while the last name is the family name. In America, people write their first name before their last name. This is very different from the custom in Eastern countries. For example, Chinese people always write their name last name first.

The First name is used very often in American daily life. When you hang out with your friends, they will only call you by your first name. However, in many other countries, people call others by saying both the first and last name together. Here is a story that happened to one of my Chinese friends. He called his American roommate by using his given name and family name together. This made the roommate feel uncomfortable and think that this Chinese boy was rude.

Another tip is to try to say sorry and explain culture differences when you did something wrong because of misunderstanding about customs. People here are friendly and open. They will understand and forgive you after your explanation. Do not be shy!

The last names always come with titles. Of course, titles are used before the family names. You will use Prof. or Professor XXX as the title before the family to call teachers in college. Doctor or Doc may also be used for your professors based on the actual situations. Nonetheless, some professors prefer students call them by their first name. Professors will explain which way to call them is prefer during the introduction in first class. Hence, be careful to when you in the class. Another thing is about Mrs. / Mr./ Ms. You should use Mr. when you call a man. The other three are used for female. Miss is used for an unmarried female. Whereas, Mrs. should be used if the female is married. In situations which you do not know if the female is married or not, please use Ms.’ (Yu “Ellie” Fu, China)

‘Some professors do prefer to be called by their title like “Dr.” but many of the professors we have met at Penn State Harrisburg do allow you to call them by their first name. It just depends on the person and the environment. I was raised to always show respect where it is due, which includes referring to people by their title and using their last name. At my internship, every single person that I have been introduced to and work for prefers that I call them by their first name or nickname (even the President of the Company). This honestly is slightly uncomfortable for me because my parents are big on respect.

Although it may be uncomfortable at first, I think using first names with people allows you to build a closer relationship. But like I mentioned before, it all depends if the person allows you as well as your environment.’ (Marlene Castillo, Mexico)

‘Coming to the USA from the Anglo-oriental cultural background in Pakistan where it is customary to call the seniors or professors in a formal and official way as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’, It took me quite some time in adjusting to the prevalent norm here in the USA. For instance, in Pakistan I could never think of addressing my professor as ‘Dr. Vasavada’ or ‘Professor Vasavada’ as I do here in the USA. In my culture, this way of addressing is considered disrespectful and way too informal. Similarly, in my culture, it is a norm to bend the head a bit while greeting a senior. But when I was new to the USA, whenever I did this gesture, I felt a visible astonishment on the face of my professors.’ (Shahinshah Faisal Azim, Pakistan)”

Full Article: http://harrisburg.psu.edu/international-student-support-services/guide-american-culture-etiquette

Idiom of the Day

Gold Standard

Meaning: By extension, a well-established and widely accepted model or paradigm of excellence by which similar things are judged or measured.

Example: Her research methodology in the late 1960s has since become the gold standard for drug trials today.