When I was in college, the privilege of studying abroad also meant the luxury of sitting through several cultural awareness classes before heading to a new country. I suppose my attention span was even shorter than it already is back then, because the below was pretty much all I took from these workshops –
- Americans think they know everything about the United States.
- Lesson #1 is false. Everyone except Americans actually knows everything about the United States.
- Lessons #1 and #2 are the reason why people outside of the United States don’t seem to like Americans.
Since returning stateside, I’ve been employed in an industry that allows me to meet people from all over the globe, who remind me daily of the challenges of adapting to a new culture. Folks, the struggle is real.
- “Why are people speaking English so slowly to me? I’ve had to learn this language since I was 5. That and French, German, and Italian.”
- “Is there anywhere I don’t need to tip? If it’s not required, why do I have to tip at all? What is WRONG with 10%?”
- “How the hell am I supposed to ‘dress for the weather’? WHAT THE FUCK IS FAHRENHEIT!?”
On the other hand, there are also those that are looking to passionately embrace our culture of Springsteen, Starbucks, and no soccer. In my grandfather’s most recent visit here, we were stopped at a traffic light when he began a solemn speech.
My grandfather: “‘Give me liberty, or give me death!’ Sandy, Abraham Lincoln said that, you know.”
Me: “Abraham Lincoln did not say that. Patrick Hen–”
My grandfather: “I DON’T CARE! Four scores and seven years ago…! Sandy, this is American HISTORY, okay? Lincoln ALSO said this.”