Im very used now to people greeting me "hi how are you?" And of course thats how I greet too. Im an expat and in my home country, we dont really ask that, just "Hi"
I've met this French guy and i noticed that he doesn't really ask how are you. Is French greeting different from other EU countries? Brits do greet how are you and i think Americans too.
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I come from Switzerland and we usually do a mix of the American way and what @93stepsawayfromhome said about Belgium. It depends on the formality of the situation. If your talking in the polite form to somebody (strangers, people of authority etc.), it's considered appropriate to only say "Grüezi" (Hello) or "Guäte Tag" (Good day) and wait for the response. Only then you should ask the follow-up question "How are you?". However, if you're meeting a friend for example, it's totally okay to hang the two things together and say something like "Hey, how are you?" or "Hello! What's rollin'?"
One thing that's very different in Switzerland than in America is however, that the question "How are you?" or its alternations "How have you been?" etc. are considered real questions and not just empty phrases. When I lived in the US, I've made the experience that many people don't even say "Hi, how are you?" anymore, they actually say "how are you?" as a form of a greeting. The other person then sometimes doesn't even say "oh, good, thanks!" back anymore but rather, they would also just say "How are YOU?". Both question don't actually receive an answer. And an answer is usually not expected in the US because the question has become a standard phrase so to speak. Especially negative answers are not desired. I think people would look at you quite strangely in America if you'd actually have the guts to say "Uhm... to be honest, I feel really terrible at the moment. I've had a really bad day" etc.. This might work among very close friends but even if you're just buddies or even more formal, you can't do that. In Switzerland, we tend to regard the "how are you?"-question more as a real question. So if you ask somebody in Switzerland this question after greeting them, they might say "very good, thank you", but they might also say something like "arrrgh really crappy, so much stress at work". We can we really straight forward in this kind of situations and I've heard that some expats and other foreigners struggle a lot with this in the beginning ;-). Also, another difference is that Americans tend to use more big words like "I'm great, thanks!" or even "I'm awesome, thanks!" and Swiss people often just say "I'm okay". The interesting thing about this is that both don't mean it literally. Americans tend to exaggerate. They're not actually "awesome", they just say it. We tend to do the opposite. Even if we're pretty good, we just say "alright". Kinda funny I think ;-).3