Tanya's Tips: Survival Guide to America

There are a few things that Americans do differently. If you don’t know what they are, you may end up wearing a winter coat on a hot summer day or have no battery in your phone. Don't worry, I've got you covered!

Stay plugged in with the right adaptor

You're texting a friend, and you realize that your phone battery is super low...

Make sure you have the right adaptor! U.S. power outlets are different.

Stop by our Culture Desk to get an adaptor, or buy one at the airport, local pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens, and stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart.

Fahrenheit, not Celsius

You’ll think your American friends are crazy when they say it’s 75° outside. And they’ll think you’re nuts when you say it’s 32° in mid-July!

Don’t forget that Americans tell temperature in Fahrenheit, not Celsius. 32 °F = 0 °C

If you’re like me and just don't get Fahrenheit, check your weather app in °C and then switch to °F for a quick look.

How far?

How far is it from your apartment to your job?

You might say 1.5 kilometers. Your American friends will say 1 mile or 15 minutes walking.

Americans use miles instead of kilometers. 1 mile = 1.6 kilometers

How heavy?

How heavy is a pound of cheese? You can also ask for a half a pound or a quarter pound of cheese at your local deli.

Americans use pounds instead of kilograms. 1 pound = 0.45 kilograms

Shop like a pro: know your American money

Americans say: “A penny saved is a penny earned!”

Here is a cheat sheet to count all your American bills and coins and not just pennies.

Now that you’re a pro, answer me this: how many dollars do you get for three quarters + one dime + 2 nickels + 5 pennies?

Don’t be late for work! AM vs. PM

If you tell your American friends to meet you at 18:30, they’ll have no idea what time to show up.

Americans don’t use the 24-hour clock to tell time, but instead they use AM (the morning) and PM (the afternoon/evening).

So, 18:30 = 6:30 PM

Travel smart! Know your timezones

The U.S. operates on 4 time zones:

  • Eastern (think: NYC time)
  • Central (-1 hour)
  • Mountain (-2 hours)
  • Pacific (-3 hours)

If it’s 4:00 PM in New York... ...then it’s 1:00 PM in LA!

So when you’re planning your travels around the U.S., don’t forget to check those time zones!

Wsup! lmk what you think! brb!

Translation: What’s up! Let me know what you think! I’ll be right back!

Most Americans like to use the regular phone app to text. Some of your friends may be into Whatsapp or Facebook messenger , so just ask them how they prefer to stay in touch.

Stay Connected

You can pick up a free U.S. SIM Card at our Culture Desk in NYC.

If you buy one at a local store, make sure you ask for a pay-as-you-go plan and not an annual contract.

Most coffee shops in the U.S. have free wi-fi so save your data when you can

Tanya Burovtseva

An international exchange alumna originally from Ukraine, Tanya started her career at InterExchange in 2011. Tanya is passionate about travel and cultural exchange and enjoys meeting J-1 exchange participants at InterExchange events.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation