Cultural Differences Between Europe and the United States: A Case
Last February I had the
pleasure of leaving Finland and spending two and a half weeks in The
Land of Lazy People (it is more often referred as “The United
States of the America”). Everything I knew before I went there I
had learned from movies and TV shows, as it should be. I also had
taken a “U.S. and Canada” course a year before, but I remembered
absolutely nothing of it. On the other hand, no amount of lectures
could have prepared me for Regis and Kelly, or perky girl scouts.
For a person who has never traveled by herself, the flights were
quite an experience. First, a perky (yes, I know I keep repeating
this word), 40 year old American flight attendant kept calling me
“honey”. It was somewhat disturbing. Then, on the flight from
London to Chicago, I had my first experience of the phrase “in
America everything is bigger.” I think that’s a phrase; if not,
it should be.
I was waiting to get my snack
before the landing; now, I understand “snack” as something you
eat in between meals, like maybe a fruit or a yogurt, but this snack
was the biggest, thickest, and tastiest pizza I’ve ever had. It
only had cheese and tomato since I don’t eat meat, but it was
heavenly, and Chicago looked really nice in the evening lights.
It seemed like everybody in the States has something to compensate
with their cars, because I’ve never seen so many big cars at once.
No one here has those kinds of cars.
I was strangely infatuated by
the traffic culture though, and I don’t even have a driving
license. The freeways were so cool, and I might have taken way too
many pictures while driving. That was some crazy driving,
because everybody was changing many lanes all the time. And you didn’t
have lanes just on the freeways; you got them downtown too.
After two and a half weeks of
getting around by car, it was awful to go back to walking and
cycling again. I think I saw three bikes during the whole time I was
there, and I also got lazy like the Americans. You don’t get out
of the car unless you absolutely must. Like outside a fast food
place: you just wait until they bring the food to you, and when you
return videos, you don’t take them inside the store, you just drop
them into a box.
Besides cars, there were
churches everywhere. I should have counted how many churches we
passed while driving for five minutes, but I’m sure it would have
been more than five. There were churches next to each other, called
“The Church Of People Of 2007 Revello Road” and “The Church Of
People Aged 45 Who Own A Dog Called Johnny.” I guess that explains
the huge number of them. It was fascinating how many differently
named churches there were.
I had had the false assumption
that the temperature would be somewhat the same as here, but it was
nice not having to wear a jacket. I saw people who were wearing
shorts and a t-shirt. In February.
It was so nice having this
spring feeling. There was actually green grass to be seen, and of
course I had to take a picture of that. I was also surprised to see
grass everywhere (well, almost everywhere). I wouldn’t have
expected the place to be so green, and it made everything look so
much nicer than here. I think it was also because there weren’t
forests right next to the freeways, and that made it more spacious.
So I learned that trees make me anxious. It’s a good thing that
only about 70% of Finland is covered by trees.
I never remembered to take a picture inside Publix or Kroger,
although I took a picture of the “Kroger: Food and Drugs” sign.
But the plan was to photograph the endless lanes of frozen food.
These people freeze everything. Never have I seen so many different
kinds of lasagna. I guess no one actually cooks anything there; you
just buy it and put it in the oven or microwave. Lazy people. Oh, I’m
I also should have taken a
picture of the lanes of soft drinks. Impressive. Now that I think
about it, I think we have those lanes too; they are just beer and
cider. I did buy some Bud Ice, after an attempt to break the law.
Apparently you can’t have a minor carrying your beer for you,
because they want to see their IDs too. So, you have to buy less, or
have a shopping cart.