Americans like their personal space a lot. Do not be overly physical when you meet someone. Keeping arms-length distance, except in the most crowded urban circumstances, is a good rule of thumb. Most Americans prefer a firm handshake as a first greeting. Hugging is reserved for close family members and friends. Kissing people in greeting is a more intimate affair, usually done only in the context of relatives, lovers and close friends.
Americans usually talk to each other from a distance of about two feet (.6 meters) Getting any closer is viewed as uncomfortable. Refrain from touching people during conversation unless you know them well.
Common gestures considered friendly:
Waving: (It is done by moving the entire hand from left to right, with the palm facing outward) Waving can indicate both greeting someone and saying goodbye.
Thumbs up: (with one or both hands) The "OK" sign or the "thumbs up" sign indicate approval.
Peace sign: It is used in America sometimes as a goodbye gesture or to convey happiness or that somebody would like two of something. If it is done behind somebody's head when they are not looking it is meant as a practical joke (especially in photographs) and implies "bunny ears."
Devil horns: In American Sign Language, it is a shorthand sign meaning, "I love you" as it incorporates the signs for I, L, and Y when the thumb is turned out. Among the hearing, it is a common symbol for American football fans at the University of Texas at Austin where the school mascot is a Texas longhorn steer, known for having huge, sharp, wide horns. The hand gesture resembles a bull's horns. This symbol is also seen rock concerts as a sign of someone enjoying the music.
Shaka: (It is done by folding over all the fingers except the thumb and pinky, with the back of the hand facing the person being greeted) This sign, meaning “hang loose” is commonly used by surfers or Hawaiians.
Smile: Some people think Americans are phony or stupid because they smile so much. This is really not the case. The smile is just a sign of a genuinely happy person and otherwise it is the one gesture that is understood around the world as friendly.
Vacations, Holidays & Leisure Time:
Vacations are important to Americans and they really go all-out to celebrate! Most have to do with sharing good times with family and friends, and eating traditional foods. Aside from Christmas, New Years and Easter which are celebrated throughout the world, American’s celebrate Independence Day with parades, picnics and fireworks on the 4th of July. Halloween is also another big one where children dress up and ‘trick or treat’ around their neighborhood to get candy. Thanksgiving is celebrated to give thanks for close friends and family they have in their lives. Families celebrate with a traditional meal of turkey, dressing (also called stuffing), sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie.
In America, whether you are a student, working person or stay-at-home parent, time is made for leisure activities both on weekdays and weekends. During the week Americans spend their leisure time walking, jogging, bicycling, playing tennis, playing racquetball, bowling, watching movies, reading and volunteering. On the weekend, they enjoy even more freedom, by going to sports events, camping and doing many things together as a family.
Women do not go topless in swimming pools nor do they sunbathe topless. It is perfectly safe to swim in the water, including lakes, rivers and oceans. Stories like the ones seen in Jaws are complete fiction, told entirely to scare people.