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:
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.