Some false clichés or not ...
United States is probably the country with the most stereotypes, and after living here nearly five months I can say that they are almost all proved to be true!
First, the dinner time is very different from the one in France, because you must have eaten before 7:30. For those who finish late classes, they can always go buy their sandwich in one of the cafes on campus.
But it is still very unusual for us, French, to eat that early! Therefore we don’t eat snacks at 5 anymore, but go straight to dinner at 6.
Also, I'm trying to break the American clichés and therefore trying to say that yes, you can eat well, healthy, and varied in the US, unfortunately, this stereotype is what is the truest here.
The quantities of food are really big and sometimes the staff serve you, so you cannot choose the quantity that you think you will eat... And concerning the sodas, they are everywhere and unlimited!
At the university’s cafeteria, we were fortunate to have many choices between the "grill" bar, "salad", "entrees" (main course), "pizza and pasta", "deli" ... The menu is usually quite various, but it is still surprising to see the American students eat only hamburgers every day! That is how you really realize that France is the country of gastronomy and we're not used to eat as fat!
This "culture" of fast food is also transmitted through the time they take to eat in the cafeteria. Even then, they cannot take the time to eat slowly. They do not know the pleasure of going to a coffee and sit for more than an hour talking with friends. Even the drinks are all to go! Moreover, most of the small cafes, do not sometimes have tables (or just one or two), or even restrooms for guests, who are supposed to take their coffee and biscuit away!
Ice water is also served at any time of the year in restaurants, it's pretty impressive to see ice in his glass in the middle of the winter! Also, the culture of tipping is fundamental. The waiters doesn’t have a fixed salary and earn money through customer tips that has to be at least 20%! And a tip of 20% is already included for groups of more than 5 persons.
In supermarkets, prices are always displayed tax-free, which is very disturbing at the beginning! Another different thing from what we have in France is that here, there is always a person to put your bought products in the bags! The price of the cheese and sausage is impressive, so we must wait for the return in France to enjoy it again. There is also very little Nutella in stores, which we are used to eat in France, but they have the Peanut Butter in large quantities! About the products in general, they are all in very large portions! Whether the crisp packets, cookies or other food, everything is several times bigger than that find in France! Finally, the most stressful thing for a foreigner is that we can pay with a credit card without entering the code, only with the signature!
Here you can also buy food in a pharmacy, (CVS pharmacy)! Yes, there is no “pure” pharmacy as we have in France, so you can buy there anything and everything! To make a vaccine, you can also do it in the pharmacy and the staff is qualified enough to do it.
I had the opportunity to do an internship at the Office of International Programs of the university, which helped me to learn a little more about Americans and their way of seeing the world. My main mission was to promote the study abroad programs for a year, a semester, or just the summer. It was a real challenge for me, since for many Americans, it just seemed impossible to go abroad! Europe is an unknown land for them, they are afraid to leave US and do not understand why they should try! This mindset is also transmitted in the way to meet with foreigners. I found that American students were often not very curious and open to other cultures. They stayed between Americans only and didn’t really talk to international students and try to discover their country, which is sad for their open-mindedness, although there are exceptions of course!
But the American positive attitude is also very surprising and contagious! They are very friendly people and always cheerful. In stores, we are always greeted with a "Hello! How’s it going?
The other American aspect, much worse for us is the health cost. Indeed, it is essential here to have a good insurance to "survive" the exorbitant prices of doctors! A simple visit to the doctor costs more than $ 100!
Now about everyday’s life, I also noticed several surprising differences with Europe. The way to count the floors is different: the first floor in the US corresponds to our main floor (RDC). The faucets are turning in the opposite direction compared to France. This is quite disturbing at the beginning, but you soon get used to it.
The flow of cars and pedestrians is also different ... For example, cars can sometimes turn right when the light is red. Cross the road as a pedestrian is not always easy, you must first press the button and wait a moment for the little white guy comes on and then go. And then a stressful countdown shows the time, sometimes only seconds to cross large avenues – and you also have to be careful with cars that can turn right even if the light is red, so green (well, white) for pedestrians.
Well, I think I described everything about American culture and habits which confirmed well mostly all the clichés we have about them.
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