Saturday, January 9, 2010

Impressions of the USA

I'm back in Korea! Man. Those three weeks flew by. I've never had a busier three weeks. On the plane, I was sitting there hating every minute of those 15 hours (long flight!), when I decided I should be thankful to be sitting still and not rushing off to a job interview or an appointment for the new house.

I also had time to ponder about life in the America. Every time I come back home, I'm hit with the contrasts of life in Asia and the States. I did a blog post about it here too.

Other than the fact that Americans live a pretty good life (better than anywhere else I've visited), these are my latest impressions.
1. Very multicultural- I guess this comes from being in Asia, where every country is from a homogeneous race. I'm always floored in the States when I go to the malls or schools and see so many different races, hair colors, skin colors. It takes me a while to get my bearings.
2. Americans are loud but a happy group of people- I suppose this comes from the fact that we haven't had our entire nation leveled yet like poor Korea where after the Japanese invasion, there wasn't a building two stories high and nearly every tree had been cut down. Overall, Americans really have been sheltered from the pain of war and oppression unlike nearly every other country in the world. Think about it for a moment. It's true.
3. I love the idea that we as Americans have the right to speak what we believe in. I really hope freedom of speech and religion continues. I was surprised going back that some people felt that they couldn't say "Merry Christmas". It did worry me that people don't have the freedom to say and do what they once did for fear of offending someone. I lived in Indonesia for 2 years and not once did an Indonesian feel that they couldn't say "Happy Ramadan" to me.
4. Americans sure put on a good party- The Christmas decorations and food and music are truly amazing. The country was so festive and alive. A great place to celebrate the holidays.

I hope this post got you thinking. I suppose I just touched the 'tip of the iceberg' here. And as much as I love the US, I loved living overseas, too. I've learned so much from the places I've visited with much more to learn still. I just finished the book Carpe Diem and while on the plane I watched the movie Shanghai Kiss. They sum up everything I've said here. Check them out!

Picture by Woo Bing Siew


Angela Ackerman said...

Glad you had a great trip home. It bothers me too how North Americans are afraid of offending. IMO, If I accept Ramandan Chinese New year and all the other important celebrations, how is it I am told I can't celebrate Christmas openly?

Great food for thought!

Kelly Polark said...

Great reflections! Some Americans don't count their blessings on how good they have it: free speech and material goods. That is wonderful that you can share your experiences!!

Tamika: said...

Wonderful to hear you arrived safely.

Living in America, I guess we take for granted the privileges and freedoms we have to live as choose.

Anne M Leone said...

All soooo true!
I was in the US for the holidays too (an expat currently living in the UK) and was also struck by these things, particularly the diversity.

I'm also always struck by the amount of waste, paper plates, napkins, ziploc bags... Also often shocked at how friendly and chatty Americans are, even complete strangers in a cold Chicago winter!

Christina Farley said...

Anne, yes! I'm so used to recycling practically everything. It felt werid to throw bags away and plates. And mix all of the food with the regular garbage. Korea is so good about recycling.

Bish Denham said...

It would be SO good if more Americans could live abroad for a while. It would teach them much about our incredibly unique and diverse country. I LOVE it! One time my husband and I went into Greek restaurant run by Koreans. (The food was excellent.) Our waitress was from Taiwan or China. Other costumers besides us and a few other Anglos included Hispanics, African-Americans, someone who looked like he was from India and a Jewish man with a yarmulke on his head.

THAT'S America!

Anna Staniszewski said...

Thanks for sharing your insights!

I was born in Poland and raised by a Polish family in the US, so I grew up very aware of how lucky I was to have opportunities people in other countries often don't. I was so glad to be able to bring my husband to Poland and the Czech Republic this past summer. Not only was he able to meet some of my relatives and understand a bit more about the culture I came from, it was also his first time out of the country and I think he gained a lot of perspective on life in the US vs. life in other countries.

Unknown said...

Wow...this is intensely interesting to me. Thanks for writing this!!

Kimbra Kasch said...

It's always nice to come home - no matter where home is.

Angela said...

Glad u made it back & found time to relax on the plane.

What always strikes us when we visit the US
1. English
2. The TV invasion - TVs in almost anyplace you would eat with your kids & even on elevators
3. The fast pace of everything

C.R. Evers said...

It's neat to see your observations. I'm disturbed by North America's over-sensitivity to certain things too. We're here because we're free to live and worship as we choose, and yet our sensitivities are forcing us to surpress our freedom to be ourselves. Weird.

neat post!

MG Higgins said...

Your perceptions of America from the "outside" are fascinating and appreciated. Glad you had a safe trip!

Teri K said...

You make good points. I lived in Japan for 4 years. I enjoyed it and the people very much, but was glad to get back to the US. The diversity of ideas and people makes this country feel more alive. For all our problems, and there are many, we have and exercise more fundamental freedoms and opportunities than most of the world will ever know. For which I am thankful.

Rena Jones said...

Great post. It's so easy to take things for granted.

Kimberly Conway said...

This is so true. It's easy to forget how blessed we are until we see how others live. I actually just wrote a post sort of dealing with this at my blog.