Personal experience: 50 notes about life in the USA
I managed to live 2,5 years in New York, half a year in Boston and a month in San Francisco, traveled exactly half of the states and visited a hundred cities - of course, a huge amount of impressions accumulated. I’ll make a reservation right away that I didn’t live with compatriots for a day, but I stayed in thirty airbnb locations, so I met and became friends with many American families. In this post I will tell you what realities of American life have already taken root in my mind.
- Passed on pounds and gallons, well guided in Fahrenheit. I get miles. When I cook, I use American measuring cups. I used to call thousands upon hundreds (1100 = eleven hundreds). And also I call quarters blocks.
- I learned how to relate to the question “how are you”, to begin and support small talk, more often smile, make compliments and show more delight. Still, of course, I picked up American phrases to express different reactions.
- I understand very different accents, at some point I began to think in English and now it has become a little more difficult to choose words in Russian. In the dream, I also speak English, by the way.
- Cinema I look at NetflixI listen to music Spotify and still love The lot radioread The New Yorker, Fast Company and The New York, instead of a taxi, I often take UberI choose places in Yelp.
- I feel safer using the services of a US bank. Once an ATM “ate” my $ 300, I left a complaint and quickly received $ 300 back in advance for a while the investigation was conducted, then they just sent me “thank you, please, we found your money, rest easy and keep spending it” .
- Became often go to museums, galleries and theaters. In local museums, interesting exhibits that change every few months, just do it. Entrance fees are quite expensive, but there are always days or hours when you can go for any voluntary donation (for example, $ 1) - I have a separate calendar for this. Dozens of events for every taste take place every day.
- I have only one American girlfriend (we have been friends with 2014 on October), but I found love in the States (we spend all the time together, it’s never boring or lonely). There are more acquaintances in a month than in a couple of years of life in any Ukrainian city (and I am not an extrovert, you know).
- I sort the garbage and collect food waste on the compost (they store this garbage in the freezer for many weeks and then carry it to the farmer’s market on weekends, but everything is simpler, since there is a small garden under the house where you always need additional feeding). Now I have a special basket for organic garbage, and it is taken along with the rest of the garbage (and there are also baskets for collecting rainwater with steep covers). To things from recycled materials develops a different attitude. For example, my toothbrush is made from recycled yogurt cups, and business cards are made from old t-shirts and other waste. -industry.
- I got used to the soul that is installed above my head - at first it was unusual and even inconvenient, and now even when I get a shower with a removable hose, I don’t use it.
- I forgot about seasonality: all fruits and vegetables are on the shelves all year round - they are brought from different regions of the United States, as well as South America (perhaps, except currants and cherries - they are not generally available, the quince is rare and persimmon only in winter). Strawberries in December are as tasty as in May. And tomatoes are tasteless all year round (cherry is tolerable, but also not that), I buy Italian grated tomatoes in tetrapacks instead, but I watch that there are no spices and additives in them. There are many farm plantations where you can go and pick berries, vegetables and fruits on your own - this is a popular family pastime of the day off.
- I delve into the label almost more than ever. So, you can suddenly find that as part of the usual-looking raw rice of a popular brand there can be up to five unfamiliar ingredients (it is better to buy one that is 2 times more expensive, but without additional flavor enhancers). Many products contain sugar or corn syrup, so it’s best to buy unsweetened, unrefined and organic.
- Oysters, clams, lobsters, crabs and octopuses do not seem to be a luxury. I love seafood shops - ocean fish tastes differently from sea fish and it sells a lot more species. Fry a shark steak for dinner - easy! We two together have one flounder for two days - so big (from 2,5 kg).
- Products such as plantations, yucca, cabbage castle, limes, sweet potatoes, almond milk, granola, maple syrup, coconut oil in solid form and pistachio - in liquid. Specifically, in New York you can find anything you want - there are Greek, Polish, Korean, Japanese and other neighborhoods (even Little Odessa is). In the winter I got carried away with cooking according to Portuguese recipes and without problems I find everything I need in a Portuguese shop nearby. In general, there is a huge selection of products for every taste and budget, as well as authentic restaurants. In San Francisco, I had a honeymoon with Mexican food, in Boston — with Asian food, and in New York — with Peruvian. Now she’s hooked on arepas and kacapas (Venezuelan cuisine).
- Balcony - many have almost the ultimate dream, but the backyard is much better. I bought garden furniture and just happy to have breakfast, dinner and generally spend time on the street.
- I got used to planning everything in advance. June was never fully planned out in mid-May. I already have tickets for events in October and November. The fact is that tickets are sold out within 10 – 30 minutes after the start of sales - there is no other way out.
- I buy more things from online stores than offline (you can find a promo code and save up to 40%, and if something doesn’t fit, you can always exchange or return). In general, it is convenient in the store to collect things without any fittings and then send back what did not fit by mail.
- Fell in love with autotravel. Roads and tracks - a pleasure, and gasoline is cheap. A low-cost or tempting prices for domestic flights - the cat wept, compared to Europe (but you can fly back and forth to Iceland for $ 200 and to Japan for $ 500).
- I check the schedule of the metro before leaving the house (there are jams, trains suddenly change directions, etc.), but in general I trust more Google Maps in building routes. It seems that the buses in New York are trying to make a secret so that tourists do not occupy space.
- Fell in love with hiking. These are walks along specified routes in a mountainous and forested area. Nature is gorgeous. A huge number of unusual plants and birds. Saw deer, partridges, pelicans, storks, hawks, opossums, chipmunks, turtles and hummingbirds in their natural habitat. I am silent about squirrels: they are like cats - well fed, arrogant and omnipresent. Raccoons are less common and only at night, but also there. Red Cardinals and blue jays - my favorite birds.
- I most often do not have cash with me, I pay by card. A handy thing - the option “cashback” when calculating in stores (and especially in pharmacies), i.e. This is an option to pay more checks and get the difference in banknotes.
- I got used to the fact that the tax was not added to the price - I find out the final figure at the checkout or when they bring the check.
- We do the washing once a week in 3 – 4, because there is no washing machine at home, and I really don’t want to spend the evening on a weekly basis in the laundry room. I like the fact that a special machine is used for drying, and not a clothesline. We also bought a portable washing machine, it is small and generally saves, if it is often washed in small batches and not accumulate mountains of things.
- If earlier I could go to a cafe and take the first table I liked, now I quietly wait for a specially trained person to meet and hold (you can often ask for a table that you like). But if I am alone, then most likely they will not give me a table, I will sit at the bar counter. I often take with me food that I have not eaten - the portions are large.
- In American bars you can give a bank card for the whole evening to the bartender and this will be an “open account”. I still try not to do it, but it is in the order of things.
- I like that any account can be broken down as you please: pay in cash in part, non-cash in part, account split in half or otherwise. And it is also convenient to leave a tip without cash (for some reason in other countries it is often problematic).
- Tipping leave the order of 15% for almost any service. Tips are divided between everyone on the shift, so if you want to specifically thank someone, I add a little more cache from above.
- I started using voice mail (you can ignore calls, because if something is important, then I will receive a voice message).
- I speak with robots by phone when I call various services (for example, I replenish my mobile phone bill).
- I'm not surprised at all kinds of natural disasters: hurricanes, floods, snow drifts and tropical storms (faced with snowfalls). Jonas, Niko and Stellaas well as a tropical storm Ermine).
- I got used to the fact that Sunday is the first day of the week. I sincerely like to start the week not on Monday.
- I clearly had more tact in interacting with others. For example, you will not be asked to give up a place or skip - you need to feel and react (this is called a good word thoughtful). At the same time, it’s nice when you don’t need to ask - you will just head towards the exit, as you will be separated. No one will push you in the supermarket - they will tell you “Excuse me”And they will wait for you to move a little so as not to hurt you. Now I say polite. ”excuse me”Even if I just find myself on the path.
- When I watch movies, I often find out the locations where this or that scene is filmed (the very class: - “oh, look, we walked along the other side of the street yesterday!”).
- We really don’t communicate with neighbors in real life - there’s no such thing as to come in and ask for salt, for example. It seems that for the first time many people saw, when the city was covered with snow and everyone came together to clear the paths. But we use the application Nextdoor, and there all local issues are raised and discussed.
- Volunteering is an important part of life, along with hobbies and work. There are a huge number of options, and everyone will definitely choose something to their liking. This is not only a way of socializing and “give first”The community is also a personal new unit of meaning. Charity is probably also included here - we regularly hand over old furniture, clothes and shoes to various organizations.
- For local holidays accustomed and celebrate if folded. The biggest ones are Christmas (dinner and Catholic service on Christmas Eve), Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day (barbeque on 4 July) and Thanksgiving Day (baked turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie) - decorate them at home, shops and restaurants. There are smaller holidays - they just enjoy an extra day off.
- In the States there are so many services for the delivery of various goods by subscription. For example, they can send socks, perfumes, cosmetics, recipes and sets of products for them, salt with various additives, plates, coffee and anything else. There are even services for the delivery of clothing and accessories to suit your tastes and financial capabilities. You can subscribe to many products on manufacturers' websites - for example, your favorite cream will be delivered every 3 a month and you do not need to worry that one day it will end and there will not be a new jar. I periodically subscribe to something new.
- I have never particularly liked sites with coupons and coupons in general as such, but I use a group and my network of wholesale supermarkets launched a mobile application in which it is convenient to choose “digital coupons” and then they automatically give me a discount at the checkout (due to them we save on every hike $ 20 – 30). There is also such a topic as price reconciliation (in some stores you can show on a smartphone that somewhere this product is cheaper and you automatically recalculate the price, making a discount) - there is also a separate mobile application for this.
- I have even forgotten that branded clothing can be fake. Given that it is generally very affordable. I remember seeing my boy's wardrobe entirely consisting of Calvin Klein, DKNY and other things like that, was initially surprised, but now it isn’t at all - good things on sales make adequate money, and their quality is gorgeous, and these things do not wear out for years.
- By the way, about things - it seems to me that in the States no one ever wears things down to such a state as to just throw them away. Each thing has several lives, going to second-hand, in boxes with things for the homeless, on humanitarian aid in the third world countries, antique shops (50's things are more expensive than any new thing Calvin Klein), craftswomen with direct hands on all sorts of alterations, bloggers for new bows and so on.
- Many have a contract with some company, to the account of which you yourself transfer money to old age - I plan to open such an account as soon as possible. Those. if you save yourself money for 30 years and you still have a percentage on them, then it all makes sense when you suddenly have 55.
- Credit history is really important, but the main thing to know is that it’s not the amount of money in your account, but the ability to pay bills on time. Example: my friend has a loan debt in the total amount of about $ 150 thousand, while she has a very high credit rating. (Generally, I do not know how to live with such a duty, for me it is crazy).
- Many people speak openly about psychotherapy not only among themselves, but even at events from the stage - like “and my advice to you is: go to psychotherapy, even if it seems to you that this is not necessary.” A free appointment with a psychotherapist is included even for the poor. In general, this is considered to be “by itself”, something like brushing teeth at the dentist, only you do this weekly. I have not yet gone to a psychotherapist, but I am generally curious.
- Living in the states, it is very important to join some kind of community, then everything becomes much more interesting. There are many professional communities, there are all sorts of narrowly focused on interests and so on. There is usually a main channel for communication - Slack or Facebook and regular live communication activities. Recently, in the wake of the popularity of the community for women about emancipation, feminism, etc.
- Local news is mainly found on Twitter (NYC Scanner and similar accounts) magazine Time and newspapers that come handy. I watch TV only when we are in the laundry (about once a month). When we are in the car, we listen to NPR radio - national public radio, there is no advertising and interesting topics always come up. I know very little about news from other countries, I began to understand much better the geography of the United States and began to get confused in the geography of the world (well, you know, everyone laughs at the fact that Americans do not know geography - it’s understandable, they have no geography lessons, and America is so big a country that even it’s good to know is difficult, even to the whole world).
- There is a stereotype about taxes, as if they are very high in the States, but no matter how. If you correctly fill in all and know different legal ways to reduce taxes, they are obtained at the level of 25% (compare with taxes in the UK, Germany and other developed countries). I like that everything is pretty easy and fast, fill out forms online, you get an answer when your forms are rechecked and then send a check, in case you overpaid taxes.
- Oh yeah, checks are in progress, they are sent to each other by mail and in general everything is easy with them, although at first this archaism is very surprising.
- Mail works very well: quickly, clearly and almost do not steal parcels. They are really left on the porch. I love to wake up, go watch the weather in my pajamas and stumble upon parcels. The only time that a package was stolen from us was very easy: they reported it Amazon, and they sent us another free package (with a $ 90 printer) for free.
- The first thing that many visitors catch their eyes in the winter is how local people dress or, more precisely, do not dress. They go almost in sandals or cloth shoes on the snow, babies are worn without hats, and they themselves have forgotten about scarves and other ways of warming. At first it seems wild, and then you realize that it’s not very cold, especially if you move from one place to another (it is warm in public transport).
- “Our” people can be seen out of habit to sneeze into the palm of my hand, I wonder when I will retrain (sneeze right in the elbow).
- I admire the number of people involved in sports. In parks, mothers with double strollers run around, grannies run marathons, grandparents jump on the stairs, and even once I was almost attacked by a blind grandfather — he jumped in the gym and lost his balance. Blind. Grandfather. In gym! (For comparison: my grandparents, it seems, never wore tracksuits).
The original column is published on the website. Medium.
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