Have you read the Part One about what not to talk about with Americans? Want to know what topics are usually chosen? Molly would like to give you advice on talking with Americans.
Now that you know some of the things you shouldn’t talk about, you might be wondering how to start a conversation with an American. What are some things you can talk about?
An easy one to start with is hometown. Ask where they are from. Most people like to talk about their hometown. Don’t you? Hopefully they will also ask you about your hometown and you can tell them about it. Talk about the weather, the food, and the landscape. And be sure to ask them about these things as well.
Speaking of food, food is a good topic of conversation as well. Ask what kind of food they like, where they like to eat in Oxford, if they miss the food from their hometown, etc. Be sure to tell them about the food you like as well. I think many Americans would be fascinated by some of the things people like to eat in China!
Another easy topic of conversation is hobbies. What do you like to do for fun? What do they like to do? Hopefully you can find something in common. This can even lead to the possibility of doing something together, like going to the Rec or getting together to watch a movie or TV show. But don’t be surprised if an American doesn’t follow through on getting together with you the first time you mention it. For Americans, hanging out with someone outside of class is a big step in a friendship, and it can take some time to reach that level. (My hair stylist and I have been talking about getting together for lunch for months, but neither of us has taken the initiative to actually do it. Americans are slow and cautious about making new friends.)
Other good topics are sports, movies, music, video games, etc. And if you can’t think of anything else, talk about the weather! Americans love to talk about the weather. I’m not joking. Whether it’s too hot, too cold, rainy, snowy, windy, or beautiful outside, we love to talk about it. We can easily spend several minutes talking about the current weather, the forecast for tomorrow, and how the weather has been lately.
The next time you want to start a conversation with an American, try saying something about the weather.
After you finish discussing the weather, try talking about how the weather compares to the weather in your hometown.
Then ask the American where they are from. Discuss your hometowns a bit, including the food, and let that segue into what kind of foods you like in general and where you like to eat in Oxford.
This can lead easily into what other things you like to do in Oxford. Oh, you both like to play basketball? What teams do you follow? Want to get together and shoot some hoops at the Rec sometime?