Monday, 8 February 2010

Only in America

When I moved to the United States last year, I was prepared to deal with a fair amount of cultural differences. Cultural differences are everywhere, and I have had my share of them while living in England, Hungary and Italy. There was a certain type of image of "small town America" that had penetrated my mind when I was living in Finland. Hollywood films, American foreign policy, tv programs, fast food, the American English language, cartoons featuring peanut butter sandwiches - all of these things have visibly contributed to my perception of the United States and the Americans. Things are different on this side of the pond for sure. I had travelled in the US before, but it is a whole different ball game when you actually live here.

Speaking of ball games, I felt superbly European yesterday when Chris patiently explained to me all I needed to know about "the blue team" and "the gold team" while watching the Super Bowl. Sports is one of the numerous things that makes me feel really foreign here. Chris taught me the rules of baseball last year, and I think I am able to follow a game now. American football is quite a different story. It makes less sense to me than cricket, which is saying a fair bit. I did not quite realise how big American football is, not until I came across a newspaper article today which analyzed the tv commercials that were shown during the Super Bowl. I don't think I have ever seen a single analysis of a tv commercial in a newspaper before!

Here are some of my favourite troubles, being a Finn in America:

1. Not knowing the local flora and fauna. Bluejays and cardinals are thoroughly exotic to me. When I see gray squirrels climbing the trees in our back yard, I tend to mistake them for monkeys at first glance.

2. Feeling like an idiot when people talk about weight, the outside temperature and distances. 30 degrees Fahrenheit means nothing to me, even though in theory I know how to do conversion. Shopping at fabric stores is a struggle because yards and inches just don't register in my mind.

3. Dollars seem like Monopoly money. Don't even get me started on how strange the cheque system seems to me!

4. Having to punch in 4- or 5-digit codes while weighing your fruit and vegetables at supermarkets. I am used to double digits instead.

Stripy shirt: Silence+Noise at Urban Outfitters
Gray jumper: second hand / Fida
Jeans: Only / Tuuli's old
Brogues: second hand / UFF


noel said...

i love your flowy layers! and i actually laughed out loud when i read the bit about the squirrel monkeys!! haha. --noel

a cat of impossible colour said...

Moving countries is always tricky! I've done it twice now, and I don't think it's going to be any easier the next time. America's a funny place, as well, because in some ways it's so familiar ... so much of their culture has leaked into our cultures. To me, that makes the inevitable differences seem even weirder!

I really, really love this outfit. I think it's beautiful. I also very much love your shoes. :)

Andrea xx

Sal said...

What a fabulously comfy-slouchy, yet utterly pulled-together look.

And, as I'm sure you know, we Americans feel the same way in Europe - kilometers? NO IDEA how far or fast I'm going. Still!

Milla said...

I agree on the measurements issue and am equally dumb-founded by their love of sports (it helps to remind oneself of the Finnish hockey-season), most of all though, I'm constantly mesmerized by the American's ability to think that "welfare" is a bad word, that women's right be in charge of their own bodies is still debatable and voting for one of two parties somehow constitues as democracy.

Some days waking up in this country is like an adventure in Wonderland...or maybe Bizarro World.

Michele said...

Say what?! You have to punch in your own fruit & veg codes?

Those squirrel-monkeys kind of freak me out now too. I think they might be getting bigger.

Maria@chicisimo said...

I´m from Spain and I was living for three years in USA. I felt exactly the same!! USA and Europe are really different places, but is fun to get used to the differences!!

Everything Is Better Tinted Purple said...

Your post made me laugh. I am an American living in Germany. Have been for 7 1/2 years. We watch the Superbowl on German television with German commentary. Very entertaining.

I love the simplicity of this outfit. It looks so clean and comfortable yet so chic.

T said...

Funnily enough, I don't know how to describe cold in Fahrenheit even though I've used F almost my whole life. It's cause I never knew real cold until I moved somewhere where it's all in Celsius, and the difference between -26 and -20 suddenly becomes all too clear. Heat, on the other hand, is still measured by the sticky, humid, grossness of NYC in the summer. In Fahrenheit. 101 vs. 92. I can't describe heat so well in 35, 40 degrees Celsius.

I like the photos in this post. Did you get a new camera?

NYC Fashionista said...

So glad to find your blog - I'm a Finn too, but have been living in the US for 15 years and have more or less adapted to football (Go Saints), pounds, fahrenheit degrees, etc.

pneuwarum said...

Monkeys in the trees -- love it! And your outfit is wonderful.