Sometimes I wonder if ESL teachers don't exaggerate on the cultural differences between Americans and other cultures.
Yes, when I came to America I took a class on American culture as part of my training as an au pair. However sometimes I hear teachers (Foreign and Americans alike) emphasizing aspects of the American cultures that even the Americans don't seem to know it exists.
"Unless there is something wrong with me, this is how I act on a regular basis," I was told by an American friend of mine when I mentioned a supposedly no-no in American culture, but standard in Puerto-Rican culture. This particular friend of mine is of Scottish-Irish ancestry.
Now, honestly, friends, let's talk about American culture. America has 50 states.
Heck, Brazil has 26 states and we have several different Brazilian cultures. So talking about Brazilian culture has to be either a very short set of general guidelines that defines the majority of the Brazilian population across the states, or it will be a very prejudiced or elitist (only this group of Brazilians determine which one is the Brazilian culture) definition of the Brazilian culture.
The same goes for the US. 50 states. 5 official regions. How can we define American culture without either giving very few and general guidelines or without being extremely elitist to the point of saying that these people here in this area are the true representatives of American culture, and everyone else is just not doing it right?
50 states, 5 regions, about 20 different ancestries which came from different economic and religious sects of their original countries. Each of these categories make a different culture.
The American culture is a mix and match of all these. It takes quite a bit of effort to find so many definite American cultural traits. Yes, they exist, mas they are not as many as one would like to believe they are.
We are more the same than we are different.