Tag Archives: friends

Navigating American Service Culture: to tip or not to tip?

By Tara Khan

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[2.5 minute read]

When you walk into a store in the United States, you are usually met with a friendly greeting such as, “Welcome!” or “Hi, how are you today?”. Typically, these greetings tend to be followed by a question such as “How can I help you?” or “What would you like?”. Employees will ask these questions to give you a more positive shopping or dining experience. In exchange for their friendly service, service industry workers usually receive some type of extra compensation in addition to their standard pay. This compensation either comes directly from you, the consumer, in the form of a tip, or from the business in the form of commission. It can be confusing to know when and where you’re expected to tip in the U.S., so here are some helpful examples of when tipping is recommended or not recommended.

clear glass jar
Photo by Sam Dan Truong on Unsplash

Add a tip! The following are situations where tipping is strongly recommended or encouraged:

  1. Restaurants: When dining in at full-service restaurants, tipping is customary. The amount you tip your waiter/waitress is usually proportional to how much your check is and how good the service was. If you thought the service was good, the general rule is to tip 15-20% of your check, pre-tax. A tip of 10% or below usually indicates that the service was poor, while a tip of 25% or more indicates the service was excellent. You can leave your tip in cash, but if you want to pay with a card, there is usually a place to add a tip on the receipt that you sign. Not tipping at a dine-in restaurant is typically considered to be rude, so always factor in the tip into your eating out budget!
  2. Counter service/fast food: Unlike at dine-in restaurants, counter service establishments, such as fast-food restaurants or coffee shops, typically make tipping optional. Usually, you can find a tip jar next to the cashier for cash tips. There might also be an option to add a tip on the credit card machine if you pay by card. If you are getting a $5-$10 item, a tip of $1-2 is usually acceptable, and is by no means required. Tipping at counter service establishments is an added bonus for the employees, and just something nice to do if you really enjoyed the service!
  3. Hair salons/nail salons: Tipping at beauty salons, such as hair and nail salons, is also optional. However, it is highly encouraged if you like the final product. The tip is usually 18-20%, but it can vary depending on how much time was taken to do the service as well as the number of services performed.
  4. Rideshare: Depending on the length of your ride, tipping on rideshare services, such as Uber or Lyft, may be appropriate. Generally, tipping about 10% of your ride price is acceptable, but not something you have to do all the time.
green coupe scale model
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Friendships, Fun, and Funny Situations: MY FAVORITE SITCOMS

By Matthew Kim

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

When I need a good laugh or a moment to escape the hardships of reality, I always rely on sitcoms to cheer me up. A sitcom is a comedic TV show that typically focuses on the funny day-to-day interactions of a group of characters. With most episodes being around 20 minutes in length, it’s very easy to mindlessly continue watching your favorite characters and enter their universe. Sitcoms are usually packed with ensemble casts with diverse personalities that create relatable content. With good chemistry, a sitcom show can gain popularity for their loveable characters or for just being straight-out funny. For a non-native speaker, watching sitcoms is also a great way to improve your English as they typically contain jokes with references to American culture or customs. Over the years, I’ve seen a countless number of sitcoms and wanted to share two of my favorites with you all!

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

New Girl

The premise of New Girl begins when Jessica Day, played by Zooey Deschanel, goes through a bad breakup with her ex-boyfriend, Spencer. In the pilot episode, she moves out of her shared home with Spencer and moves in with new roommates Nick, Schmidt, and Coach. Thus, she is the “new girl” in the apartment. Jess, is a quirky, offbeat teacher who is seen as a dork by most. The show mainly follows her life adventure of relationships and work. Nick Miller is one of Jess’ roommates who dropped out of law school so he could work as a bartender but he has aspirations to be a writer. He’s apathetic, socially awkward at times, very sarcastic, and struggles to share his emotions. I consider him to be the rock of the group because he provides stability for the craziness around him. Schmidt is another roommate who lived with Nick in college. He’s a funny character and in my opinion has amazing character development throughout the show. The third roommate is Ernie but he is better known by his nickname: Coach. He leaves after the pilot for undisclosed reasons but makes recurring appearances throughout the show. Due to this, his character lacks a bit of depth but he’s generally a force of good in the show. Following the pilot, Coach is replaced by Winston Bishop who is Nick’s childhood friend from Chicago. His facial expressions and love for his cat are some of the most entertaining moments on the show. In my opinion, the on-screen chemistry between Nick, Schmidt, and Winston is one of the key factors to the funniness of the show. The last member of the core gang is Cece: Jess’ best friend from childhood. Her character seems a bit stuck-up in the beginning but as the show progresses, she becomes more and more loveable. All in all, this hilarious, feel-good show features a cast of characters that’ll show you what real friends look like.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother is one of my favorite shows ever and actually the first sitcom I finished from beginning to end. It is packed with comedic content but is a deeper show than most initially anticipate. The show follows Ted Mosby as he tells his children the story of how he met their mother. Ted Mosby is an architect who believes that he will eventually find “the one”. He is a romantic and constantly entangled in all sorts of drama in his love life. His best friend is Marshall, who he roomed with in college. Ted and Marshall’s friendship is something that I really admire in the show because they are always there for each other. Marshall’s wife, Lily, is a kindergarten teacher who can be the most loveable in the gang but also the most aggravating at times. The last character in the group is Barney Stinson, who is a wealthy serial playboy. He is another one of Ted’s best friends and has numerous catchphrases. Initially, he’s the most “immature” out of the gang but he transforms into a character that is loving and caring. He is my personal favorite out of all of them. This is a another great show to watch if you like shows focusing on groups of friends. It is packed with a lot of relatable content: first cars, relationship problems, financial hardships, childhood traumas, embarrassing situations, etc. All of these components make me feel more connected to the show.

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On Being An International Student During The Lunar New Year

By Hannah Teoh

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

Recently, the Lunar New Year passed and celebrations were happening everywhere. If you aren’t familiar with the holiday, the Lunar New Year is celebrated every year to mark the beginning of the Lunar calendar. It originates from China and is celebrated widely by Asian diasporas all around the world. As an ethnic Chinese person from Malaysia, Lunar New Year has always been an important event to my family. On the eve of Lunar New Year, everyone gathers at the ancestral home to have a big traditional feast, followed by a grand ritual at midnight to commemorate the new year. The festivities typically last for a week. We usually clear our schedules for the week for visiting relatives and for going to temples to pray for the upcoming year. The Lunar New Year was always my favorite time of the year, purely because it is a time of unity, reflection, connection, and remembrance. 

The Lunar New Year has looked very different the past few years. For me, the Lunar New Year lost its usual vibrant vitality and character during the pandemic, as lockdowns and social gathering restrictions discouraged visits to temples and seeing relatives and friends— but with good reason, I must add. Many of my relatives are quite a bit older and were part of the population that was highly vulnerable to the air-borne infection. We also did not have a vaccine roll-out at that time, so it was a more precarious situation to navigate. While I understood why such restrictions were put in place, it also made our Lunar New Year celebrations humbler. Streets were quiet when they normally would have abounded with cars and people on their way to different celebrations. The night sky remained calm when it would have been painted in splatters of fireworks.

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2020 was the last year I had a Lunar New Year celebration with my family back home in Malaysia. I left for the U.S. the following year in 2021, right before the New Year. I stayed with my sister in Boston and we had a small Lunar New Year’s eve dinner with Korean take-out food. We called our parents and our grandmother to give well wishes, and they in turn gave us virtual red packets (packets of money traditionally given out by elders during Lunar New Year). A grand celebration that usually takes place over the course of a week was relegated to a modest dinner. 

For the first time, I spent the Lunar New Year alone this year. Between finishing schoolwork, attending class, and going to work, I never really prioritized celebrating the holiday. Plans to have a dinner for Lunar New Year were mentioned in passing but never brought up again as people got busy (myself included). The dumplings that I usually make were stored for an extra day because it was time-consuming to make them. I called my parents late, with the 15-hour time difference throwing off my frame of time. My Lunar New Year celebration started and ended with a bowl of glutinous rice sesame balls in Alhambra.

Photo by Olivia Colacicco on Unsplash
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