American culture, somewhat shocking | Sow there! – Chico Enterprise-Record
Lots and lots of moments in the last few weeks have been spent “showing off” in front of my new friends from 15 countries. They are teachers. They are here to learn how education is going in the United States. Along the way, I can show them what I love about my hometown and beyond.
I love our city and would love to travel, but I’m damn proud to call Chico home. However, in recent weeks I can understand why some things seem strange to visitors.
When October arrived, it was obvious that I needed to explain America’s “thing” with pumpkins. We walked into a grocery store and almost came across the huge cardboard box overflowing with oversized orange fruit.
Without someone like me to explain, our international visitors might have assumed that Americans really, really like to eat pumpkins.
“How do you cook them,” one of the Fulbright teachers asked when we were forced to walk through the giant pumpkin junkyard.
“You can cook them and add butter and brown sugar,” I explained. “But most of the time, we put them on the porch or on the tables for decorations.”
If they were wondering how many pumpkins are used for decorations, it soon became clear.
Pumpkins are everywhere. Pumpkins draped in fake cobwebs. Pumpkins and fake plastic cauldrons. Mini pumpkins in the bank. Pumpkins on the porches.
My bet is that very few of them will ever come close to a fork.
Pumpkin earrings and scarves, socks.
Then there are the scarecrows, the witches hanging from the trees and the cardboard gravestones.
I can only imagine how this appears to someone who lives on the edge of a rainforest or in a predominantly desert country.
Until all of our teachers received clean COVID test results, we brought them hotel meals. They could barely cope with all the food, and when they could finally do their shopping, they wanted vegetables.
“Americans certainly eat a lot of meat,” noted one African.
Another woman from South Africa said: “I notice a lot of places are named ‘Mike’. “
I also started noticing: Mountain Mike’s Pizza, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Mike Friend RVs, and a Mike Knight Customs. There is a Mike who is a mechanic, another Mike who works in collision repair and several Mike who work in real estate. Well done Mike.
In the parking lot of a grocery store, a woman noted that California is a “laid back” place. You can read it clearly on our license plates, where the word “California” is written in casual cursive font.
On one of our campus walks, I thought I would point out the Presidents Mansion, which was designed by the famous architect Julia morgan. I explained that the presidents of our university now live elsewhere.
“What is it for now?” someone asked.
“They organize special events in this building. But most of the time, it is empty, ”one explained.
“But you have homeless people all over town. This empty house could accommodate a lot of people, ”said our friend from Ghana.
When we visited the state capital in Sacramento, we learned that the capital will soon be closed for a massive remodel.
“I don’t understand that at all,” said the same woman from Ghana. “This place is beautiful. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Some other cool observations:
- You can take pictures of trees all day long and never get bored of them.
- You see people walking around downtown, but you don’t see people who seem to be walking to find a place.
- Much of our food is frozen.
- The floors of the houses are carpeted, but no one takes off their shoes when entering. “Nobody seems to care if you bring in dirt.”
One visitor found the purchase of bread confusing – wheat bread, whole wheat, thin sliced, sourdough, rustic sourdough, black rye, Russian rye, white, “well done white”, wheat with potato and at least two dozen more.
“In my country, we have five choices of bread, and that’s more than enough. “
“You never see people cleaning. In my school, the housekeepers empty the trash cans and sweep the floors all day. We see them. We know their names.
“Here, the cleaning ladies all work the night.
Our friend from Bangladesh found it nice that when you visit someone’s house for dinner, you can choose to eat only what you want. In his country there are many, many dishes and it is rude not to try them all. “You don’t insist or feed people until they’re too full.”
“The strangest thing is the way people open and close the door. They don’t pay attention to the noise.
One day we decided to talk more directly about culture shock and walk around the room to share some particularly weird things about America. Our visitors had visited the State of Chico as well as the local schools. When they arrived in September it was still very hot.
“The young people here, especially the girls, seem to wear nothing at all.”