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Mines For International Students

A guide for prospective and current international students at the Colorado School of Mines on adjusting to life on campus.

American Food

American Food

Most Americans eat three meals a day (with snacks in between). Dinner, frequently eaten around 18:00, is typically the largest meal of the day.

Americans like convenience, so a multitude of processed, ready-to-eat foods and fast food restaurants are available here. However, that's not all we have to offer. Look into trying these American classics while you're here:

  • Burgers
  • Hot dogs
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches
  • Sub sandwiches
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches (made with American cheese)
  • American breakfast (pancake, bacon, eggs, sausage)
  • Thanksgiving dinner
  • S'mores (pictured below)
  • and more!

At Restaurants


Portion sizes in America might be larger than what you're used to. If you order more food than you can eat, don't worry about finishing it all. It is common for Americans to ask their waiter for a box to take their leftovers home in.


Almost all restaurants expect that you will pay a tip in addition to the price of your order.  A standard tip is between 15% and 20% of your total bill. The better the service, the higher you should tip, but 15% is a polite minimum. At fast food restaurants/picking up food to-go, tips are usually not necessary. At coffee shops and bars, a tip of $1-$2 per drink is standard. 

Wait Staff

To get a waiter's attention, make eye contact and raise your hand or finger; no snapping, whistling, etc. It is typical for your waiter/waitress to use the card for your bill away from your field of vision and then give it back to you, so don't be alarmed if your waiter/waitress walks off with your card!

Special Circumstances

Unless you request otherwise, most drinks (think water, soda, lemonade, etc.) come with ice, which is safe to drink. Still water is also the default over sparkling water. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate to your dietary restrictions (gluten free, vegan, etc.). Let your server know if you have a food allergy, so extra precautions can be taken not to contaminate your food.

Grocery Shopping

  • Eggs and milk are meant to be refrigerated in the U.S, and are not safe to consume if not kept cold. If an item is refrigerated at the store, it should also be refrigerated in your home.
  • Be aware that sales tax is not included on the listed price of items in stores. Instead, it is added on to the price of each item when you check out. 

​Notes on Eating Etiquette 

  • Unless previously discussed, do not expect to share food with the other people you are eating with.
  • Before going out to eat, it is a good idea to discuss who will pay for the food. It is polite to expect to pay for your own dish, unless someone has already volunteered to pay.
  • Most Americans chew their food quietly, with their mouth closed, and loud noises when eating (such as burping) are considered rude. 
  • Most foods are eaten with utensils. Foods commonly eaten with the hands include burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and most snack foods.
  • It is generally polite to wait until everyone is served their meal before you begin eating.
  • Napkins are placed in the lap throughout the duration of the meal.
  • If there are several dishes to be shared around a table, take the desired portion and pass the dish on to the next person. If you don't want a dish, simply pass it on without taking any for yourself.
  • There is no standard seating arrangement for eating in groups in United States. 

American Holidays and Festivals


Click on the holidays below to read's brief summaries of celebrations in the United States.

Major Holidays in the United States

Annual Date

New Year's Eve 


New Year's Day

December 31st and January 1st
Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day Third Monday in January
Valentine's Day February 14th
President's Day February 17th
St Patrick's Day March 17th
April Fools' Day April 1st
Easter Varies
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day/Fourth of July July 4th
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day October 12th
Halloween October 31st

Veterans Day

November 11th
Thanksgiving  Fourth Thursday in November
Hanukkah Varies

Christmas Eve 


Christmas Day

December 24th and 25th
Kwanzaa December 26th - January 1st

*There are also some month-long celebrations in the United States, notably Black History Month in February and LGBT Pride Month in June

Dates and Time

Dates are commonly written in the following format:


The typical American work/school week is Monday through Friday.

Saturday and Sunday (the weekend) are typically used to relax, do homework, socialize, work on house projects, etc.