During my first week in the United States of America I experienced about as much culture shock as I did when I arrived in Asia for the first time. Well, almost.
I always thought that travelling to the US would be kind of like travelling to Australia or the United Kingdom. I mean, we share a Western world view, a vaguely similar history and a common language – don’t we?
America, I love you – but these are 5 things that this Kiwi found (or continues to find) just a little bit baffling:
What the heck are miles, degrees Fahrenheit and fluid ounces?
America has bastardised… sorry, simplified the English language to make it easier to spell – so why hasn’t it done the same to its units of measurement?
I can work out what a quarter is, but what the hell is a dime?
I know now, of course (10 cents) – but only after I just dropped all my change on a counter in a store one day and had the clerk work out the correct change for me.
Tipping and tax
It seems that only in America the price that’s listed is not actually the price of something.
Because then you’ve got to factor in a tip and tax, which, ever so helpfully, is sometimes already factored in to the price and sometimes not.
You think cricket is dull? (I don’t.) You should try watching a game of baseball.
I swear I watched an hour or more of the “great American pastime” before I saw anyone get a run. American football isn’t much better, but I will admit that basketball is pretty awesome.
Finally, it’s sometimes kind of difficult to strike up a conversation with an American when he or she asks where you’re from, you say New Zealand, and their face just goes blank. (I’ve managed to strike up two brilliant conversations with LA locals since writing this – but I won’t let that get in the way of a good rant.)
Truth is, sometimes Americans don’t even know what a “New Zealand” is – and it’s not like I can fall back on my knowledge of American sport to carry a conversation. Do we really have nothing to talk about except the weather? It’s always nice in LA!
Anyone else feel this way? Or am I the only stupid person who didn’t know how much a dime was worth?