What questions might you have about American culture?
For many, moving to America has brought the realization of how much of an anomaly the country is. Being in America presents a new challenge for everyone choosing to start a life there because of how isolated and distinct the culture is in comparison to everywhere else. The America people see in the media and on television cause many to end up having a skewed vision of what life and culture in America really is.
Throw your expectations out the door. Life in America is nothing like you’ve experienced before. Many fantasize of a magical foreign land where the ‘American Dream’ is everyone’s beautiful and painless reality, but unfortunately, it’s more of a hodgepodge of individuals climbing over each other to grab the few free resources. It will be hard, and most of the time it will seem awry. Assimilating to American culture is hard, but it isn’t impossible. Knowing more about what you are getting yourself into will help the situation greatly. There are always questions about what America is like, and hopefully, these answers can help.
Do High Schools Really Look Like Glee?
What you see on TV has to be based on something, right? Yea, wrong. The hallways may be lined with brightly colored lockers and the social strata may be similar, but no one is breaking out in song. Also, the social mobility of Glee is a pipe dream. No one is getting slammed into lockers (not that WE ever saw). Students do actually go to class and learn something with the help of more than two teachers.
This extends far beyond high school, too. Much of what you see on TV in the depiction of America is falsified and exaggerated, just like it is for almost any other country. The ‘American Dream’ isn’t so easily attained, Chicago streets don’t run red every day, and not as many parents as you think are leaving their teenage children home alone for the weekends. Everything you see can be taken in stride. It’s TV, not real-life.
What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving celebrates a treaty made with the Native Americans by the British aboard the MayFlower. Or at least that is what the history books tell us. Many speculate that the dinner marked the eradication of the Natives for the British to start their “New World”. Who knows what the actual story is.
In modern times, Thanksgiving celebrates family and giving thanks. It’s usually a time for families to get together and have an exorbitant meal with a whole turkey and lots of other food.
Does everyone eat McDonald’s?
The infamous McDonald’s is exactly that – infamous – and is not as common as many think. Coupled with being unnaturally healthy and simply unnatural, the average American hardly consumes McDonald’s more than a few times a month, if that much. McDonald’s are usually synonymous with more poverty-stricken areas, which sheds light on the socioeconomic strata of the United States. Communities with large populations of color lie lower on the economic totem pole. And McDonald’s is there to provide the quick $10 meal that can feed the entire family. You won’t find a McDonald’s in Beverly Hills, but you’ll find multiple in Crenshaw.
What is a state and why are the rules all different?
Americans are, at their core, individualistic to a fault. At the round table with the Founding Fathers, the biggest point of contention was ensuring that everyone would return to their respective homes and still be able to live as they had been before. Looking at it through this lens, America is a lawless lawful country and states were born out of that need for individual freedoms. Years later, the Civil War solidified the factions and there was no turning back. A good way to view it is like a large extended family with 50 siblings, who all have their own spouses and children, coming together and living on a large estate. Everyone has their own way of doing things and heads are bound to clash.
Are all Americans loud?
The short answer is yes, with heed. Americans live colorfully and without apology. It can be disconcerting and glaringly different for expats, immigrants, and even tourists. A walk down an Orlando street is nothing like a countryside stroll, nor is it anything like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Nowhere in America is the same, but they are all alike in that regard. Americans are expressive and take their own opinions seriously, too seriously at times. Americans are loud about life. Everything is an adventure and an extension of who they are and what they believe. As a result of that, oftentimes they’re seen as excessive – take it for what it is, life in America is far from boring.
Even with the made-up holidays, the TV-like life, and the strange government organization, the simplest truth is – America is a nice place to live. Often dubbed the land of opportunity, there are endless possibilities and upwards mobility. It is impossible to be bored here or to be satisfied. America lives with a pressure pumping through her veins that motivates anyone. She was built on the conglomeration of cultures and would love for you to add yours to the mix.
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