I asked international students about some of the strangest or most surprising traditions, ways of communication and cultural differences they’ve noticed while at school in the United States. Here are their responses:

Shoaib Ansari, India: Something I find quite funny is that “How are you doing?” is used as a simple “hi” here. When someone asks me that, my first response is always to say “I’m good,” and then ask how they’re doing. A lot of people don’t expect to be asked back, so they ignore it. Some others are left slightly confused. And this is everywhere in Indiana. I think it’s just funny because I’ve heard it’s a Midwestern thing that everyone is nice to each other and engages in small talk. 

Pedro Scattolon, Argentina: High school prom, tailgating and Black Friday.

Peace Muhagachi, Tanzania: The weird half-smile that people do when you pass by them. I get they’re trying to be polite, but it feels forced. Also, saying “just gonna squeeze past ya” or any variation of that — it’s so awkward! Lastly, wearing pajamas outside. 

Saif Ansari, India: One thing I’ve noticed is that no one uses their horns while driving. I’ll be walking back home and a bloody Prius will pull up right behind me, and I won’t know they’re there. They don’t honk their horn, and the car is silent because of the hybrid engine. I find it funny because I don’t know how long they’ve been behind me and I’ve just been holding them up, you know? I also remember one time when I honked at someone for cutting me off, and they showed me a middle finger in return. I was very tempted to throw my drink at them but decided to be a Good Samaritan and let it slide. 

Zachary Shields, Canada: Guns in Walmart — for wholesale!