The United States is a diverse country with people from many parts of the world. For people of any age and background, being in a new country combines a sense of excitement and anticipation with some fears, loneliness and doubts. Culture is a pattern of beliefs, values, and behaviors shared by groups of people. Cultural differences among groups can be sources of interest, pleasure, and growth. Learning about new and different languages, music, foods, and social customs will enhance your experience. Differences, however, can also lead to confusion about how to behave in different situations and the meaning of others’ behavior. Understanding some common cultural patterns in the United States can ease the transition and help students feel more at ease and a part of things. Understanding another culture does not mean, however, that a person must abandon his or her own ways. Getting acquainted with social and cultural differences is a very important process because it will help you build successful relationships with Americans. The following are some common American customs you will probably encounter.