“One Hundred Questions and Answers About Americans” is part of the Michigan State University School of Journalism series in cultural competence. This guide to understanding Americans and American culture has sections on social behavior, education, race, religion, money, culture, health, food, family, relationships and language. It also includes a glossary of American slang and idioms. This guide is intended for anyone visiting, studying or planning on living in America.
We began by asking international students for questions they had about America and Americans. We learned that perceptions of Americans are very different from one person or culture to the next. After whittling the questions down to 100 that we thought were best, we placed the questions into categories such as social behavior, education and race. We then researched the questions and consulted with experts. The result? This guide, which uses studies and surveys, generalities and ranges of possibilities to explain U.S. culture.
Not all parts of the United States are alike — and neither are all Americans. There can be greater differences within one country than there are between two countries. Even brothers and sisters from the same family can be quite different.
- How big is the United States?
- How does a typical college classroom function in the United States?
- Why is it acceptable for students to speak out and challenge professors?
- Is it emotionally hard for American families to send their children away to college?
- Is it financially hard for American families to send their children away to college?
- Why is racism such an issue in America?
- Americans seem to have many religions. What are the main ones?
- Why are Americans so fascinated with religion?
- How much do Americans work?
- Why don’t Americans take more days off?
- Why are a lot of Americans so willing to work overtime?
- Is success at work important to Americans?
- Why do Americans eat so quickly?
- How often do Americans eat?
- Why are the meal portions so large?
- Are family members in America close?
- How much time do Americans spend with their families?
- Why is every person in a family treated like an individual?
We then set out to answer those questions. Finally, we sorted the questions into chapters and asked members of the community to check our work.
Individuals from several Michigan State University departments helped produce this guide. They include:
Paulette Granberry Russell, senior advisor to the president for diversity, and director of the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, who proposed this subject, D. Venice Smith, consultant for multicultural issues, education and development, MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, Peter Briggs, director of the MSU Office for International Students and Scholars, Joy Walter, international student advisor/community outreach coordinator, OISS, Bess Carey, MSU Office of Study Abroad, Kathy M. Collins, director of MSU Residence Education and Housing Services, Eduardo Olivo of the Residence Education Team, Lawrence Zwier, associate director of curriculum at the MSU English Language Center, Patricia Walters, associate director and student advisor at the MSU English Language Center, Geraldine Alumit Zeldes, associate professor, MSU School of Journalism, John Golaszewski, director, Business & Community Affairs at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
The authors are MSU students Michelle Armstead, Gabrielle Austin, Celeste Bott, Marlee Delaney, Stephanie Dippoliti, Max Gun, Emily Jaslove, Aaron Jordan, Alexandra McNeill, Katherine Miller, Ashiyr Pierson, Marissa Russo, Merinda Valley, Jessica Warfield, Jasmine Watts and Danielle Woodward.
Joe Grimm is the series editor.