8 Countries in 9 Weeks Plus 9 College Credits - Beautiful
There are many, many misconceptions non-Americans tend to have toward the Land of the Free. I thought I’d share some of what has been said to me by non-Americans because of how contorted they are. This will be divided into two sections: Those who have been to America and those who have not.
Those who have visited this Great Nation
I often meet people who tell me about how they’ve been to America and when I ask where, they always say, “New York City”, or another popular destination like LA or Chicago. Nobody ever says how they went to Memphis, Cleveland, Portland, Helena, or anything like that. Some of these people say how they liked the Big Apple, Hollywood, or wherever they went so much that they would want to live in America. When I start to talk to them about Ohio they laugh. Nobody (other than Americans) can ever believe me that there are places in America where there is absolutely nothing to do. These people say to me, “Then why not go to Times Square if you’re bored?” Well, because from Ohio it’s quite a drive. For some reason, everyone thinks America is like LA and New York. There’s a lot more to it than just two major cities.
Of course there are people I have met who have been to places like Buffalo, Little Rock, and Boulder. They’ve seen the big cities and then they’ve seen what America is like beyond the city limits of this nation’s most famous cities. They see that this country isn’t all glitz and glam: they see the heart of America, what the majority of Americans are like.
After speaking with international students who lived in Columbus, Ohio for a semester, most (if not all) of them would much rather say it was an experience and leave it at that. I don’t think you could pay any of them enough money to return to permanently settle there.
Those who have not yet been to the Home of the Brave
I love talking to people who haven’t been to America. These people are always quick to tell you how anxious they are to visit America and see everything it has to offer. Unfortunately, I often shoot these people’s dreams down almost instantly and here is why: They have no idea how big America is.
Even people who have been to America before don’t seem to get just how big this country is. I’ve had people ask to go to Tennessee for the day from Cleveland, others wanting to go to Chicago for the day, and others wondering if we could swing by NYC on the way home. People will always tell me how they want to drive from NYC to LA. It’s a cool road trip that I know I’d like to do, but they’re unrealistic about it. Some people have said they could do it in a day. A DAY?! And this dream gets even more entertaining- they want to go to LA from NYC for a day trip. All I can say is “Good luck with that.” There’s yet another very similar goal that I hear: Taking the train out to LA for the day. From where? San Diego? Nope, these people want to do this from NYC. You can take the train to LA from NYC, but it will take you at least 3-4 days and flying is probably a cheaper option. Here are some more outlandish (untrue) things I have heard:
1. Seeing all of America in two weeks (or less)
2. Using public transport to get around America.
-it’s very tricky and depending where you go, probably not available.
3. America still practices slavery.
-As in, America is still involved in the Atlantic slave trade.This was unfortunate to hear and it was quickly resolved that this had ended quite some time ago.
4. Everyone goes to the beach on a daily basis.
-Where do the people in Nebraska go?
5. Detroit is on fire.
-This occurred in 1967 and is not ongoing
6. A lot of Americans are like the cast from Jersey Shore.
-You’d be surprised how many people have asked me this.
7. Halloween is a holiday for devil worshippers.
-Then I guess a lot of Americans are devil worshippers.
8. Moose are everywhere.
9. Americans who are not fat are cheerleaders.
-I’m a size 2 and am not a cheerleader.
10. Everyone owns a gun
-I know plenty who don’t, including myself.
11. High school is like a movie
-As in, like High School Musical or any other film that is set in an American high school. If my high school experience was like a movie, then it would have tanked at the box office.
12. American high school students have outside lockers.
-As for someone who grew up in Ohio, I would not have enjoyed this in the winter.
13. All Americans are rich.
-Not true at all. Poverty is not just a problem in the major cities but also in rural communities. For band one year while on tour we had a homestay in western Ohio where the community didn’t even have access to clean drinking water. As a first world country, you’d expect everyone to have access to clean drinking water.
So there you have it- some of the most bizarre things I have heard about America and its people. I’m sure there are more things I have heard, like being questioned about White Castle and Waffle House. I’m sure that as I spend more time living in the UK I will hear more peculiar assumptions from just not the Brits, but from others.
Today we learned about the traditional African dress for the women in Tanzania. We all have seen the beautiful fabric that they wear but I never knew much about them. The piece of cloth is called a Kanga. It is basically a long rectangle of fabric. The same one piece of fabric is used for so many…
Without a doubt the Caribbean is a beautiful part of our lovely planet. In May, I made my third visit there and Hugh made his first. My first time there was when I was a kid on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas, the second on Semester at Sea and this time I was on one of those mega ships packed with seasonal cruise ship-goers on the Carnival Valor.
I was in charge of the itinerary. I didn’t want something that just went to the Bahamas or to Mexico: I wanted the whole spectrum of the Caribbean (well, the best I could get, anyway) and so I chose a southern Caribbean cruise. I have come to realise that I am not a cruise person for one simple reason: Semester at Sea.
I have been absolutely spoiled by Semester at Sea. I spent four months on a ship where it was nearly impossible to get lost and had the privilege to not only get to know my fellow travellers, but also the crew. That is something I did not experience on my cruise and I wish I had be able to.
On Semester at Sea the crew were happy to talk to you the best they could without being too distracted from work. They’d tell you about their day, their family back at home, where they’ve been, etc. On Carnival (whom I suppose has policies against the crew becoming too chatty with guests), I couldn’t get anything out of the crew other than a simple “Hello” and “How are you?” And what really bothered me were the waiters: they didn’t sing. I absolutely miss meal times where the waiters would sing. I also miss eating outside as the sun sets. I would also give so much to have my cereal blow off my spoon as I eat.
One thing I noticed was that nobody really seemed to be interested in the ship sailing away or pulling into port. To be fair, there were some, but not many. I’m fairly certain I annoyed Hugh more than anything each morning we docked in a new port because I forced him to wake up and watch us sail in. To be honest, I think we were some of the first people off the ship. How can someone not be excited about a new port?
Another thing I noticed was that nobody seemed to be interested in stargazing or even eating outside and watching the sun set. To me it seemed like the Carnival Valor lacked the seating area to watch a sunset because of where cabins and restaurants were placed (as well as the outdoor lighting comparable to Vegas) as well as the guests who appreciate such a beautiful moment in the day. I really miss sunsets at sea. Sharing those moments with my friends on Semester at Sea are some of my best memories.
I’m not complaining about my Carnival cruise by any means. It was more of a culture shock for me. I appreciate culture shocks and to be perfectly honest, I’d go on a Carnival cruise again, but first, I think I’ll do an Enrichment Voyage on the MV Explorer. Or better yet, another voyage.
Living in England has sparked interest in friends, family, and those curious about Britain regarding myths and truths about the Brits. Most questions have been just downright bizarre, while others are much more innocent. Here they are:
Myth: All Brits have tea with the Queen.
False. I don’t know anyone who has nor anyone who knows anyone who has.
Myth: The UK is deprived of WiFI.
False. WiFi is easy to find. When asked this, I nearly said people still don’t have computers in the UK.
Myth: The UK uses the Euro.
False. When I asked someone to proofread an essay I had written they patted my shoulder and looked at me like I was stupid for suggesting the UK uses this mythical currency called the “Pound Sterling.”
Myth: The UK uses the USD.
False. I was asked if the Dollar is used in the UK as the standard currency and when I replied with “no,” I was presented with a very confused look.
Myth: They don’t speak English.
False. You’d be surprised how many people have asked me what language is spoken in England. My poor brother (who grew up in America) thought we lived in England when he was little because we spoke English. Bless him.
Myth: The British haven’t discovered batteries.
False. Batteries, like many other modern commodities, exist in Britain. Fairy powder is the preferred method of powering gadgets, however.
Myth: Everyone celebrates Thanksgiving.
False. Thanksgiving is NOT a British holiday. Whole Foods, however, offer Thanksgiving catering services to American expats in the UK.
Myth: Prisoners are still kept at the Tower of London.
False, unless you count the ghosts. Someone asked me if Prince Harry was taken there after his visit to Vegas.
Myth: Everyone drinks tea.
Truth. Pretty much everyone does. Even those without a mouth drink tea.
Myth: Knowing the gender of one’s baby is illegal.
False. I wasn’t asked this, but I was told by someone that British parents cannot know the gender of their baby because they will abort it. Such a claim is 100% false.
Myth: The food is awful.
False. Those suggesting so have clearly never had Victoria sponge or a pasty.
Myth: Eggs are non-existent in Britain.
False. I was informed that in Britain, one cannot purchase eggs. Clearly this person has never ordered a full-English breakfast.
Myth: Fruit is unavailable in Britain.
False. Apples, anyone?
These are some of the questions asked thus far. I suspect more will follow.