Living in the United States
As an international student you will enjoy and profit by many new and exciting experiences while you study in the U.S. If you do not know already, you will soon discover that we are a country of immigrants, probably the most culturally and ethnically diverse country in the world. We believe that our diversity is what makes us a great nation. Our values and belief systems come from virtually every part of the world. As you travel from one part of the country to another, you will notice the diversity and that it varies from one part of the country to the other.
You undoubtedly already know that Americans enjoy their freedom and independence. That characteristic may at times make us appear to be not interested in you and your needs. If you don't ask for help, we may assume that you don't need or want any. Therefore, if you need help or if you don't understand something, don't hesitate to ask. You will find us glad to help you in any way we can. A tip: In order to meet new people and make new friends, you may have to take the initiative.
U.S. Holidays and Customs
One fun way to learn about a culture is to participate in its traditions. Here are a few holidays that Americans celebrate throughout the country:
- 1 January: New Year's Day. Welcome the new year with parties starting the night before (New Year's Eve on 31 December).
- 3rd Monday in January: Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Commemorate the birthday of this African-American civil rights leader, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
- 14 February: Valentine's Day. Celebrate love and romance by exchanging tokens of love (usually cards, candy or gifts).
- 3rd Monday of February: President's Day. Honor past presidents like George Washington (the nation's first leader), and Abraham Lincoln (Civil War hero who helped abolish slavery).
- 17 March: Saint Patrick's Day. Celebrate the patron saint of Ireland with parades and parties decorated in Irish green.
- 1 April: April Fool's Day. Play a clever (but harmless) trick or tell a joke to someone with a good sense of humor.
- Last Monday of May: Memorial Day. Remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
- 4 July: Independence Day. View public displays of fireworks as Americans mark the date in 1776 when thirteen U.S. states declared their independence from England.
- 1st Monday in September: Labor Day. Honor the contributions and efforts of hard workers throughout the country.
- 2nd Monday in October: Columbus Day. Pay tribute to Christopher Columbus, who is traditionally thought of as the discoverer of the Americas in 1492.
- Last Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day. Feast on a traditional meal that commemorates the dinner of Pilgrims (first settlers of the thirteen colonies) and the Native Americans.
- 25 December: Christmas Day. Celebrate the birth of Christ, leader of the Christian faith, by exchanging gifts with family and friends.