One of the best ways to understand how culture affects our daily life in the US is to spend time living outside the US. Why I say it is the best way is because all of the norms and values we take for granted are not necessarily represented. Communication is different, the importance (or value) of time is different and courtesies are different.
In the US we are told we should stand tall and look a person in the eyes when speaking. In some cultures that would make the person you are speaking to uncomfortable because it seems aggressive. My grandfather always told me that if you are 5 minutes early you are 10 min late. In Brazil however; they judge the value of time differently and meetings are expected to start late. Another example of differing courtesies, in Thailand pointing your toes at or showing the bottom of your feet to someone can be considered an insult. Also in Thailand describing someone as “black” is also an insult. Ethnicity in some countries may be divided into dozens of different subgroups but their traditions, languages, and cultures differ only slightly so there is a strong sense of national culture and national identity. The biggest difference I have seen, and it is what makes “culture” in the US great is that we really don’t have a deep culture. What culture we do have is borrowed, our language is borrowed and a large portion of our people are borrowed. In a country like Thailand a “farang” is noticed almost immediately as different even in a diverse city like Bangkok. Here in America however; in most cities a Thai tourist would go unnoticed.
These immigrants, i.e. the borrowed people I spoke of,