Thursday, October 25, 2012

Because I didn't grow up here

many things don't mean the same to me as they do to most Americans. This includes cartoon and film character references, toys, foods and clothes. I've had situations where people impressed by my "almost-perfect" English cannot believe I don't understand a word or its meaning.

I can carry on a conversation about American healthcare and foreign policy for hours, and then a PEZ candy comes up and I look all lost and shake my head, asking "What is PEZ?" The usual reaction is "C'mon, you know what PEZ is, you're just joking, right?" No, I was not.

Another episode that comes to my mind happened shortly after I moved here. A girl was telling me about this famous singer, who all boys had a crush on and most girls wanted to look like. I put my smile on and was nodding in agreement having no clue who we were talking about. Not because the singer is not popular, just because she's not that popular in my country and I normally don't listen to that kind of music. That singer's name was.... Taylor Swift. Ok, you can laugh now, I realize how shockingly ignorant I must have looked then not knowing who the princess of country music was.

So don't be surprised if someone tells you they never had marshmallows, peanut butter or played with yo-yo in their life. As unbelievable as it may seem to you, many things in the United States are not global-wide and universal :)

And here some other references most foreigners have not heard of if they've never been to the states:

cheese sticks
Rachael Zoe
Mike "The Situation"
Thanksgiving (duh)

Shocker, I know.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Food: The Complications

And by food complications I don't mean the side effects of overeating or any other fun symptoms of food poisoning (when you think about it, this is a very wrong definition, how can food be poison, but that's another story). What I mean by this post title is how simple things like ordering food here can be made too complicated.

Now I imagine that you, native English speaker, have no clue what I'm talking about. Let me explain myself. For the longest time I've had this fear of places like Subway or Chipotle for one simple reason: too many choices. Yes, they do have a menu, but it's being disregarded most of the time, allowing you to "build" your own sandwich, burrito, bowl. I've come to appreciate this opportunity with time, but I still remember the days I was terrified I'd be asked a question and would have no idea what I was expected to answer.

Imagine not knowing the difference between the choices, and being confused just by most names. Now think about the line of people standing in front and behind you (and feeling like they are all staring at you right this moment and silently laughing at you guessing which planet you came from). And here you are, required to give the answers to the questions you're not even sure you heard right. Humiliating and terrifying, all at the same time.

[Sample conversation]
Corn or flour?
Black or pinto?
White or brown rice?
Grilled or fried?
Mild, medium or hot?
What kind of bread?
Which dressing?
How would you like your burger/steak cooked?
What kind of pasta would you like?

That's why I'll always love the good old McDonald's where the ordering process is easy as "Hello, number 3 please" :)