Monday, March 29, 2010

SERIES Cultural ambassadors: USA (Cross-culture email connection)

Today we'll get a personal insight into life in the US aside from the popular media. This contribution is from the north east of the USA. I again added some pics as illustration in the end.

Hey!  I'm a 19 year old college student in the United States.  I hope you enjoy reading my answers!

a description of what you eat for breakfast
I’m not very in to breakfast- when I eat it it’s usually a bagel on the run.  When I’m home my mom will sometimes make a big breakfast for my family.  We’ll have biscuits, eggs easy over, and bacon.  My dad usually makes orange juice, but I’ll always have a glass of Cranberry Pomegranate juice (slightly addicted…)  Either that or my father will make pancakes.  Depending on the season he’ll put blueberries inside of them, or we’ll make a peach topping for them.  So fantastic!

a short description of a typical work day
I’m a full time student.  I will, however, describe my most stressful day of the week- Monday.  I wake up at 8am to get ready for my 9am Psychology class.  After class I walk to a nearby elementary school to do observations for my Education class.  Straight after that I walk back to campus to grab lunch with my friends.  At 2pm I have my Gothic Literature class-  it’s great because I have two friends in the class with me, but the teacher has no concept of the work load she’s giving us!  At 3pm I have lab for my Geography class, and then about a half hour break before my Education class.  Because that class is only once a week it is 2 hours 15 minutes long.  During break during class I usually grab something to eat for dinner later.  I tend to hang out in the building in which my class is located for another hour to do some homework.  I’m usually back in my room by 9:30/10pm.  Longest day of the week!

a description of your favorite day off (weekend or holiday)
My favorite holiday is Christmas- it’s one of the only days that all of my family gets together.  My grandparents come over Christmas morning to see us open some of our presents, and then we head out to West Virginia where a lot of my family lives.  I get to hang out with my cousins for hours, and we always have a ton of fun just messing around.  We sleep over that night, and the day after Christmas the entire family goes out for breakfast.  

a short description of your country and its position in the world, including something you like about it and something you don't like
I live in the US, in Maryland.  In case you didn’t know, Maryland is on the East Coast, and I live about half way between Washington D.C. and Baltimore.  It’s hard to think of things I like and don’t like about the US.  For a long time there has been a lot of problems in the United States, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us.  It’s funny that what I love and hate about the US are the same things.  I love the diversity and acceptance there is here.  I grew up in an area with people of all types, and everyone was so accepting of everyone else.  When I left for college I realized how intolerant people in the US can be, something I really hate about the United States. I was used to being friends with so many different people, but at my college there seems to be a huge gap between people who aren’t the same.  At home I had many Jewish friends, and thought nothing of it.  It was just part of who they were, and it wasn’t a big deal.  One of my friends at school is Jewish, and I’ve realized that people treat her a whole lot differently than they would had we been in my hometown.  She’ll tell me how some people are extremely anti-Semitic, supporting unfounded stereotypes.

a list of languages (optional: dialects) that are spoken in your country
As a self-proclaimed “mixing bowl” of many societies, there are many languages spoken here.  English and Spanish are the most commonly spoken languages, although we have no ‘official language’.  In my area there are a lot of Chinese speakers as well. 

a description of the most common ethnic minorities in your country and how they are viewed
The most common ethnic minority is probably Mexicans.  There is a mostly negative view, and a huge push to further restrict immigration.  This is sort of one of those unsolvable issues, although if our economy continues to suck there will be no reason for Mexicans to come here. As an education major, I am most interested in the effect of immigration on children. A lot of students who are here illegally may have lived here for most of their lives. These children are still not considered Americans, and can be shipped out whenever the US decides they aren’t wanted anymore. These children see the US as their home (it is, after all, the only country they’ve really known) but do not have the chances at education that others do.  It’s a hard thing to figure out…

a list of the three most important holidays of your country and how they are celebrated. (NOTE: I could only think of 2 that are celebrated by pretty much every American with any sort of importance).
-4th of July- When the US declared its independence from England!  And a day of BBQs and fireworks!  We usually visit our family in Michigan (state in the Northern part of the US, touching Canada).  It’s a good 10hr drive, and we usually spend the week.  On the fourth of July we’ll watch a parade in the morning, go to all the sidewalk sales in the downtown area, have my family over to our vacation house for burgers and hot dogs, then go to Lake Michigan to check out the fireworks!

-Thanksgiving- we give thanks for everything we have.  The first Thanksgiving was supposedly celebrated between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, although I highly doubt it would have happened.  But it makes for a nice holiday.  Most families get together for the day and eat. For Thanksgiving it is usually just my immediate family.  Because none of us like turkey (and because there are only four of us) we usually have chicken.  We’ll also make stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon (yum!), cranberry sauce, sauerkraut, and rolls.  For dessert I make a pumpkin pie.  The next day a lot of stores have pretty extreme sales (it’s called ‘Black Friday’), and a lot of people go out to do some extreme shopping.  I’ve only braved the stores once- it’s just way too crowded!

a description of the role of men and women in your country
Men and women have a pretty equal role in the US.  Women can and do everything men do, and encouraged to do so.  There is, of course, still a lot of inequality.  Women performing the same job as men are usually paid less, and it is less likely for a woman to be promoted than a man.  Roles in the household are more equal than they used to be, but women on a whole still spend more time doing household chores than men.  But women have gone a long way since way back when- I’m sure that in my lifetime I’ll even see a woman president (we came close in the last election)!

the role of religion in your country
Religion has a weird role in the US.  Technically it doesn’t have any say in our government, although governmental officials are more than happy to pull the Bible card to gain support. Honestly, I think the role of religion depends a lot on where you live.  In my hometown religion isn’t a biggie.  A few of my friends went to Church often, but we never really talked about our own religious ideas.  In the community in which I go to college, religion seems to have a larger role in people’s lives.  The largest club on my campus is a Christian one, and most people I know go to some sort of bible study every week. It’s weird because I’m so used to not caring about religion, but it’s now being sort of thrusted upon me.  Most of my friends see religion as more of a problem than anything else, and tend to be suspicious of any overly-religious person.  We’ve all had that experience of someone trying to ‘save’ us, and it gets really tiring.

For those of you who haven't seen a bagel before:
Wikipedia says bagels have a Jewish background. The round buns have a hole so they could be transported on the Shabbat day without being touched by stacking them on a wooden pole. Also, they were prepared a day in advance. That way they could be finished after sunset on Shabbat day so you'd quickly have something ready as soon as you were allowed to prepare them again.

I liked the description of U.S. festivals. I would love to be in the US for the Fourth of July (Independence Day) just once. It's my birthday and I'd really like to see the fireworks and parades.

When it comes to food I'd like to mention that American pancakes are different from German ones. German pancakes are bigger, softer and less fluffy than their American counterparts. They are often filled with fruit or eaten with nutella or the like. Many people also drop apples slices into the dough in the pan. German pankaces look like this:

If you want to try making your own true American pancakes, here's a picture and a link to a good recipe (from the BBC with conversions, although every American family probably has its own recipe and many moms will do completely without one).

Here's another U.S. contribution to this series by a girl from Florida, in the south of the USA. She put her description up on her blog. Also don't forget to check out the other countries if you haven't already. So far we've got cultural ambassadors for 
Feel free to contact me if you'd like to contribute your own story (especially if your country isn't featured yet).

All umarked text in this post was supplied by a third party. The opinions expressed are not the same as those of the author of this blog. According to §§8 to 10 of the German Tele-Media Act, I am not obligated to monitor third party information provided or stored on my website. However, Ishall promptly remove any content upon becoming aware that it violates the law. My liability in such an instance shall commence at the time I become aware of the respective violation.


Simone said...

LOL I learned about bagels when I Au Paired for a year in USA - in South Africa its difficult to get proper bagels. Love them.

Grooveycrafts said...


This was such an interesting read, its always nice to learn about other people and their countries

Agnetha said...

Really interesting! Always nice to read about other countries and how they live!

(Agnetha - SwapBot)

Fabi said...

Really interesting. Thanks for this kind of view :)!

Fabi (BubbLeGumGirLie for Comments on Craft/Design Blogs)

Maria Isabel said...

I heard about these types of swaps, too bad I didn't join in on the fun :(
-mariaisabel "comments on craft/design blog swap"

Coleen Franks said...

Hi Charlotte, what an interesting blog you have. I'm going to try the chai tea recipe. Do you know that in Ukraine where I live all tea is called chai in Russian and Ukrainian languages. A little cultural note. Im an American, but we've been here 16 years.
I"m following your blog. Would you follow mine?
Thanks, Coleen Franks
Swap-bot, Comment on Blogs Swap

Coleen Franks said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that I really like the snow flakes. I've made them before, but none solovely so I'm going to follow your directions. Thanks for posting such a lovely thing. Since you are crafty you might want to look up my crafty fan page on Facebook. Just search for vintageterrace2
Coleen Franks

Charlotte said...

Thanks so much for your sweet comments. I'll add the info about Russia and Ukrania in the chai post, thanks!

sweetdaisydreams said...

great blog have enjoyed reading glendas sb