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Sruthi Sagar Ananthachari
Director - HR
Complete Business Solutions Inc USA.

It was my first day at work and I wanted to drink some water. I asked my American colleague and she enthusiastically gave me directions " Go down the hallway and you will find a water fountain". I went down the hallway looking for a nice looking fountain and never found one. Later I learnt that a water fountain is like a faucet from which you drink water directly. There were a few surprises during my initial settling down. However it is good to know or like the Americans say " Nice to have" some backgrounder about the culture and way of life before landing in the US.

Basics First

After the butterflies in the stomach have died down and you have boarded your flight you start relaxing. If you are flying first time do not get too adventurous drinking alcohol as you may end up very disoriented after a long haul flight. Remember that you may have a client to meet soon after landing and it is better to have a clear head than get in with a big throbbing hang over. I presume that you have your documents in order like passport, visa and the H1 approval document from your employer and you have been briefed correctly on the project you are going to be working and your work location. Recently there had been an incident in Texas where some Indian software engineers working on a project were arrested by the INS as they did not have proper documentation on their work location. You need to know the law of the land and the conditions of employment, as ignorance of law is no excuse. May be as a sequel to this article I will give some useful tips to look for.

At the Airport

When you land in the US you need to go through Immigration check and Customs. Check your I 94 card after clearing immigration to see how long you have been permitted to stay and if there is a mistake, have it corrected immediately by explaining to the officer. This will save you a lot of trouble later. Customs in US will not trouble you as long as you do not carry any meat or agricultural products.

Golden rule in the US is to follow signboards. When you come out of the airport with your baggage look for signs for Ground Transportation. If no one is going to pick you up at the airport, the best way to go to the hotel you are booked is to take a taxi. Take a shuttle if your destination is not close by or you have been instructed to take a shuttle ride. Shuttle service is either a van or a limousine and cost less than taxis, but they may take longer, because they have other passengers to drop off. It is like a share auto if you are familiar with this concept in Bombay and other metros. I know of an employee who was wondering what animal is a shuttle and was delighted to see me at the airport to help him take one to his hotel room.

At the Hotel

At the hotel it is always "check in" or "check out". Never say you want to vacate your room. I have seen the lady in the front desk looking bewildered at this terminology. Make sure you know when the check out time is. It is usually 12 Noon.

Check out Issue #2 -

  • What are the usual norms on tipping?
  • Can I tip the government employees abroad?
  • What do I do to gain acceptance at work?
  • How do I dress for work?

The author has two decades of rich HR experience. He has been
associated with companies like Tata Consultancy Services, the Sanmar
Group and Complete Business Solutions (India) contributing
tremendously in the HR arena. A post graduate in Behavioral Sciences
coupled with a specialised training at NTL Institute USA.
He is also the holder of National Certification from SHRM, USA.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by Mr. Sruthi Sagar Ananthachari are in his individual capacity and do not reflect his organization's views.

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