The USA is so huge that it’s difficult to sum up the weather conditions in just a few words. While Alaska is cold with Arctic conditions, the likes of Hawaii and South Florida are totally tropical. There are both snow conditions as well as desert side by side and it depends on where you’re going as to what you’ll experience.
Keep an eye on the tornado and hurricane seasons – these intense and dangerous storms are responsible for an horrific number of fatalities in the USA, so steer clear.
Most Americans speak English – although there’s a few dialects for every state. The USA has the fifth largest Spanish speaking population in the world and it’s the primary second language in almost the whole country. Where the USA borders with Quebec a substantial amount of Americans will also speak French.
ATM - cash point/cash machine
chips - crisps
cookies - biscuits
diaper - nappy
elevator - life
expressway or freeway - motorway
flashlight - torch
fries - chips
gasoline - petrol
line - queue
liquor store - off licence/off sales
movie theatre - cinema
pants - trousers
restroom/bathroom/lavatory - toilet/loo
round-trip ticket - return ticket
to-go (in ordering food) - take-away
truck - lorry
The official currency in the USA is the US Dollar ($). This is known colloquially as a ‘buck’. Nearly all the ATMs will be able to handle your international banking cards and Visa and Mastercard are widely used and accepted.
The United States is a federation of 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Each state has considerable autonomy within the federation: each has its own state government, and laws differ in different states.
The Federal Government consists of the President and his administration acting as the executive body, with the US Congress acting as the legislative body. The President is elected indirectly by the people via an electoral college, and serves as both the Head of Government and Head of State.
Getting a visa to work in the USA on your gap year is a long and arduous process. You’ll need to read up carefully before your visit and consult the US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Check out our USA Travel Guide for more tips and advice on where to go and what to do.