Cultural Difference

Differences in Desi and US English Language 
Linguistically, a lot of the things can be very different when you come from Pakistan to the US. In fact if you do not use the appropriate terms in the US, you might find yourself in an embarrassing situation. For example, rubber in the US is a slang term for condoms, but is often used to refer to a pencil eraser in Pakistan.. In order to avoid getting into those situations, here's some terminology and context, which is in NO way exhaustive. If you do find something different in addition to this while you're here, we encourage you to let us know at psa@iastate.edu
Food-related terminology (what you say in Pakistan → what it is in the US)

  • Coriander → Cilantro. Cilantro is usually the leaves, and coriander usually refers to the seeds of the coriander plant.
  • Cold drink → Soda pop, or just pop. This is a very midwestern term.
  • Milk powder (like Nestlé Everyday) → Cream or half-n-half are equivalent substitute for this.
  • Hotel → Restaurant
  • Jelly → Gelatin or Jell-O (may be sourced from pigs or cows just in case you cared. It may be hard to trace the actual source so we encourage you to err on the side of caution, if you care for the source).
  • Garam masala → Curry masala. This isn't always the case though. Turmeric powder is often sold as curry. Visiting a genuine Indian/Pakistani grocery store is probably a better idea to cater to what you exactly need.
  • Lady-fingers → Okra
  • Thin pastries → Lady-fingers
  • Toffee → Hard candy
  • Brinjal → Eggplant
  • Biscuits → Cookies/Wafers
  • Bun → Biscuit
  • Finger chips or chips → French fries

Educational

  • Public school has no tuition.  Private school charges tuition.
  • School  → High school
  • College  → School
  • University  → School. Lots of people talk about college and university as school. For example, "I go to school at Iowa State University," where it is not necessarily clear if it's grad school or just college, and this may depend on context of situation (for example, the age of the person).
  • Intermediate/FA/FSc/A Level/IB → High school
  • To take a class is to "teach a class" in the US. In Pakistan, taking a class would mean being a student.
  • 2nd class means 2nd grade in the US, and so on.
  • High marks refers to good grades/scores.
  • Invigilating is the same as proctoring.
  • Canteen → Cafeteria
  • When you say rubber in Pakistan, you're referring to what is termed eraser in the US. Rubber in the US implies condoms. You're henceforth warned, for the second time!

Clothes

  • Vest → Undershirt
  • Waistcoat → Vest
  • Half-pants or knickers (or often misspelled nickers) means shorts.
  • Purse → Wallet. Purse implies a handbag.
  • Swim trunks → Swimsuit
  • Swim costume → Swimsuit

Transportation-related (what you say in Pakistan → what it is in the US)

  • Traffic signal  → Traffic light
  • Boot, diky → Trunk of a car
  • Bonnet → Hood of a car
  • Petrol pump → Gas station.
  • Petrol  → Gas (short for gasoline)
  • Diesel  → Fuel
  • Pavement → Sidewalk
  • Footpath → Sidewalk
  • Zebra Crossing → Crosswalk
  • Take a lift  → Get a ride
  • Motorcycle → Motorbike
  • Cycle → Bike
  • Push the accelerator → Step on the gas
  • Give the car some race → Speed up the car
  • Get down (from a bus) → Get off (of a bus)
  • A place to park → Driveway
  • A place to drive → Parkway

Miscellaneous (what you call it in Pakistan → what it is in the US)

  • Football → Soccer
  • American football (or somewhat of a rugby equivalent) → Football 
  • Tissues → Napkin. Toilet Paper (TP) is small tissue roll in US. Paper towel is available in most (less green) restrooms (bathrooms) to dry your hands after washing them. You can also buy roll of paper towels for kitchen or for your restroom.
  • Muslim shower → Portable shower. An alternative is a bidet, which isn't available in 99% of restrooms. However, you can buy it from Amazon though as things you can install on most toilet seats.
  • Lota → Vessel (you may want to consider bringing your own).
  • Orange Juice → O.J.
  • Nail-cutter → (Fingernail) Clippers
  • Solid → Substantial
  • Ltd. → Inc.​
  • Toilet/Latrine/Bathroom → Restroom
  • Guest house → Motel
  • Current → Electricity
  • Load-shedding → Power outage. Though you will hardly ever experience it in the US, and it is usually announced.
  • $20 Note → $20 Bill
  • Cell → Battery. AA and AAA etc notations remain the same as Pakistan.
  • Torch → Flashlight
  • Snap → Picture
  • Photograph → Picture
  • Dustbin → Trash can
  • Beggar → Panhandler
  • IBM-Compatible → IBM-Clone
  • Inflammable → Flammable
  • Mess → Dorm/Dining Hall
  • Restaurant bill → Restaurant check
  • Picture → Movie
  • Lift → Elevator
  • To fix → To install
  • To repair → To fix
  • Pram → Stroller

Idioms

  • To post (a letter) → To mail (a letter)
  • To submit → To turn in
  • To be out of station → To be out of town
  • Straight-away → Right away
  • Anticlockwise → Counterclockwise
  • Bunk school → Skip class
  • Passed out → Graduated
  • Fainted → Passed out
  • Ring up (someone) → Call up (someone)
  • The line is engaged → It's busy / I got a busy tone​
  • Let's push off → Let's go
  • Let's make a move → Let's go
  • Convince someone → Talk someone into
  • Black money → Tax free, undeclared income
  • Standing from a Constituency → Running for an election
  • Issue a book → Checkout a book
  • How are you? → How are you doing?
  • How is everything? → How is it going?
  • To intimate → To inform
  • Very Close Relations → Intimate relations
  • Too good → ​Cool