Settling into an American Neighborhood, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
American Community
Housing

Settling into a Neighborhood
Americans Are Neighborly. There are some exceptions, of course, but Americans are basically friendly people, who want to get to know you and who will welcome you as a neighbor, even in large cities. When you move into a neighborhood or into an apartment building, it is perfectly all right to introduce yourself to your new neighbors by knocking on their doors, sending them notes about who you are and where you come from, or even inviting them to an informal party (called a “House-Warming”).

Learn your way around when you move to a new neighborhood, using a map of the area if necessary. Learn where all the community and public services are. Try to make friends with the clerks at the local stores, restaurants and banks and learn their names. People who work all day behind a store counter will appreciate it if you can make “small talk” about their families or their other concerns. They'll be more likely to go out of their way to help you when you need special information or assistance.

Becoming Part of the Community. All neighborhoods have community activities like block parties, fund-raising activities for charities, and civic associations. If you have school-age children you should try to become active in school-related activities, like the PTA (Parent Teacher Association). Look at notices on bulletin boards in supermarkets and laundromats or scan community newspapers for opportunities to get involved in activities that will make you an active part of the community.

Service Clubs (like Lions, Kiwanis, and Rotary) are important resources for community involvement. You usually have to be sponsored by a member to join these organizations, but you should investigate them, since they will give you a real entry into the community and give you many contacts in vital areas. Another organization that anyone can join is Toastmasters. Toastmaster clubs exist in every American community and give people the opportunity to speak in public, a great American tradition. You'll be welcome to visit a meeting as a guest at no charge. To find the location of the club nearest you, see www.toastmasters.org.


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