CULTURAL FACTS ABOUT THE U.S.

q As most American families do not have a maid, they need to hire a baby-sitter, a person who will look after their children when they want to go out. Baby-sitting is one of the most common things young people in America do in order to supplement their weekly allowance.

q Donít be surprised if Americans do not shake hands when being introduced to people. Generally a casual "hi" or "How do you do?" takes the place of a formal handshake. They also tend to answer with a mere "OK", "Sure" or "Nope" but they donít mean to be rude with their brevity.

q Many American teenagers earn their own spending money working in stores, gas stations or in supermarkets while others prefer to work in restaurants waiting on tables or even delivering pizza. By working part-time jobs, they gain experience, learn work habits and get a sense of responsibility at an early age.

q In the US each state has its own set of rules for getting a driverís license. In some rural states, the minimum age can be as low as fifteen, but generally it is sixteen or seventeen. In some states a driverís training course is required. Usually you have to pass an eye test, a traffic law test and a physical test.

q At one time in the US a young woman would never invite a young man to come into her house or apartment without a friend around. However, customs have been changing a great deal and today she may invite the man in if she likes him or trusts him.

q Did you know that we have a comfort zone which regulates the distance we stand up from someone we are talking to? Studies have found that Americans normally avoid standing too close to someone when they talk. They feel more comfortable at about 21 inches apart.

q Did you know that more than 42% of all jobs in America are filled by women? And their influx into the job market continues at a rapid rate. Most are still employed in jobs traditionally filled by women, but many are moving into professions once reserved only for men.

q The university plays an important role among American teenagers. At about the age of 16 or 17 they leave home, getting into one of thousands of students dormitories (collectively called dorms) at the university campus, and it is at university life that most of them experience sex, night life, alcoholic beverages and the advantages and disadvantages of living by their own, making their own mess and going to bed at the time that best suits them.

VOCABULARY BUILD-UP

1. Do you thing baby-sitting is a safe occupation in your country? Would you leave home with your companion, letting your child with someone you donít really know? Explain your point of view.

2. The text says that Americans usually donít shake hands when introduced to strangers. Make a list of social greeting habits around the world (eg.: kissing in the mouth, in the cheek etc.)

3. Some jobs may be considered low-ranking or even lousy. Brick layers are frequently listed among those low-ranking or dirty professions. In the US, most immigrants are forced to work in these lousy jobs because higher-ranked positions are taken by Americans. Make a list of ten dirty jobs in your country.

4. Are you for or against people driving at the age of sixteen? As you read in the text, in some American states the driving license can be achieved at the age of fifteen. Which are the negative and positive points of letting teens drive at an early age?

5. Universities are world-known as being the cultural centers of modern societies. But there are other underground facts which hide this global concept. Complete the chart below with your own ideas. An example was given to make it easier for you (home-dwelling students refer to those who go to university but live with their parents).

Facts

Dorm students

Home-dwelling students

sleeping time limit

there isnít any; students decide for themselves when to sleep and wake

depends on the studentsí parents; they set limits for their sons and daughters