Comparing Pakistani and American Cultures
Exchange student from Pakistan poses with her host mom and host sister in beautiful Southwestern landscape

A few observations from Arizona

It felt appropriate to share the understanding, learning, observations, and experience that I gathered from my classmates and host sisters regarding a few characteristics of the rich culture of the U.S.                             

I am trying to make comparisons to better understand our two different cultures. I think it will help other students. It is quite interesting to learn about cultures. I wanted to share some things about U.S. culture and compare them to the culture of Pakistan.

Pakistan is a developing country in South Asia while the United States of America is a developed country on the other side of the world. They have two different cultures and very few similarities.

First of all, in the United States of America people are more individualistic and independent whereas in Pakistan, society is more collectivist and interdependent. In Pakistan when you are making a decision, you take into consideration your family, friends, and community. You might make the best decision in your self-interest, but if your family or close friends are not happy with the decision, you might give up. However, in the United States, you can go for what you think is best for you.

In Pakistan when you are making a decision, you take into consideration your family, friends, and community.

Meal etiquette is also different. In America, people use forks, knives, and spoons during meals. People use dining tables. In Pakistan using fingers is common and usually, all family members or friends sit together on the floor for a meal. Although this trend is changing in the major cities, laying a tablecloth (Dastarkhwan) on the floor for a meal is common in towns and villages.

Time is highly valued in America. One is supposed to meet deadlines and schedule routine matters. In Pakistan, people take life easy in general. It is OK if you are 10-15 minutes late for a meeting, ceremony, or party. People are more direct and timely when it comes to communication in the United States, while in Pakistan people are context-oriented and search for clues.

Dating is a part of U.S. culture. If a man likes a woman, they may start dating and may get into a relationship. This relationship can lead to romance and marriage. In Pakistan, dating is considered taboo due to social disapproval as well as religious restrictions. The decision to marry is made after consulting parents. The approval of family and close relatives is a major step for a couple to get married.

There are a few similarities between U.S. culture and Pakistani culture. The people of both nations love music. People listen to music and dance in both countries. The same is the case with sports. In America, young people are very enthusiastic about sports like baseball, basketball, and cross country. In Pakistan, people get excited about cricket, hockey, and football (soccer).

Both in America and Pakistan, people respect their elders. It is considered rude to interrupt while they are talking to each other. Hugging each other is common among friends in both countries. In Pakistan, men hug and handshake while women kiss each other on the cheeks.

The cultures of America and Pakistan are quite different but there are similarities. The information I shared is not based on extensive research or for any academic purpose. It is a general observation of everyday life in the United States. With the support of my host parents, I am trying to learn more about U.S. culture during my stay here.

—Amna (YES, Pakistan), hosted by the Bliss family (AZ)