Studying Stateside: Tipping 101 and Basic Imperial Measures

Monetary tip for services

Monetary tip for services

Going abroad for a few semesters is an exciting prospect. Students not only experience the educational system of another country, but they’re also able to immerse themselves in different cultures and meet new people from various walks of life. It’s an opportunity that most college students would relish taking.

After an academic institution has accepted an application for their exchange program or for admittance into their school,  the aspiring student would still have to navigate the process for studying abroad. Students who wish to study in the United States have a complicated procedure to undergo for student visas. Even after they’ve gotten their visas, foreign students should have reliable health insurance, among other necessary paperwork.

But there are some things that students have to have at least a basic grasp of before their plane touches down.

Tipping 101

Leaving tips is ubiquitous in the United States.  While other countries may have a more relaxed attitude to tips, tipping is like a sign of courtesy and somewhat a necessity in America. If a business can expect customers to leave tips for their employees, this can affect their minimum wages. A business can legally pay their employees as low as $2 an hour if they can expect customers to leave tips to make up the difference. Some foreign exchange students may not be used to tipping wait staff or servers, but this can come across as rude and economically frustrating to Americans.

Just how much is someone expected to tip in a given situation?

It mostly depends on what service was rendered and how well was it accomplished. In restaurants, it’s considered normal and polite to leave a tip equal to 15 percent of the bill for the waiters. If they were very accommodating and provided the diners with wonderful service, they can show their appreciation by adding an extra 5 to 10 percent.  Diners should also find out whether a restaurant automatically adds gratuity to the final bill, to avoid living extraneous tips.

In general, the same percentage, 15 to 20 percent of the bill, is the standard amount to tip someone in the United States.

Crash Course on Imperial Measurements

The United States is one of only three countries that still use the Imperial measuring system, the other two countries being Liberia and Myanmar. Although all commercial products in the US have both metric and imperial measurements on them, some things in the country wholly use inches and pounds. One of them is distance.

Foreigners used to kilometers might get a little confused or end up lost if they don’t get their bearings and their measurements straight before they arrive in the country. Recipes may also call for pounds, and instructions may say inches instead of feet.

Here’s the metric equivalent of some measurements a student may encounter regularly.

    • 1 inch is equal to 25 millimeters
    • 3 feet is slightly shorter than a 1 meter
    • 1 mile is equivalent to 1.6 kilometers
    • 1 pound is equal to 454 grams

Imperial measument system shown in the measuring tape

When someone is already fussing about being in a new school, far from home, they don’t need the stress of thinking that they’ve gotten fatter because their weight in pounds is bigger, or why their American friend calls them out when they don’t leave tips. Mastering these things won’t earn a student any academic degrees,  but they will make adjusting to living in America a little easier.