Wry Exchange

What Exchange Students Like About the USA

 Colorblind Cupid asked a question in response to my food post.  She asked if FESs miss more than our food when they return home.  Oh, yes.  A partial list just from this year’s students:

  • They appreciate our willingness to take new people into our lives.  They think that we are much more warm and friendly than they believed before they arrived.   The kids were astonished that people hosted them because they wanted to, not because they had to take them.  All most other countries have mandatory hosting-if your kid goes out, someone comes to your home.  They were surprised that they in turn love some people here after just knowing them for a few short months.
  • They liked the idea of volunteering to help strangers. Just to do good without expectation of any reward was a new concept for many of them.
  • They loved high school sports.  As far as I know, we’re the only country with public school sports teams.  They love the camaraderie, and how important the games are to the entire school or town.   One of the kids said she loved how if the team won, everyone went to the pizza shop, but if the team lost, everyone went home and was sad.
  • They think it’s very clean here, and we don’t have hardly any litter.  (This is mentioned annually, and I enjoy telling telling them that volunteers ‘adopt’ a section of road to keep clean.)  I’ve hit the brakes more than a few times and told a kid to pick up whatever he just tossed out the car window.  I’m mean like that.
  • They like our highway system.  The roads are paved, and not too pothole-y (bullshit.) They like how well-marked the roads are, and that the tenth mile markers are a ‘wow’ invention so that drivers know where they are at all times.
  • They like that buses and cabs stop for them in larger cities.  I got the impression that cabs and buses don’t stop if they don’t feel like it.
  • People here trust other people more.  (Of course we live in Appalachia, so it may be different in other places.)
  • A new reason this year-They like that things work here.  One said it, and the others jumped in.  Utilities are reliable.  The government works, police and postal workers aren’t bribed.  Appointments are set and kept. 
  • They like that we do so much online.  In some countries, bills must be paid in person.  Lines are long, and inefficient, so a lot of time is wasted.
  • They like that people obey unwritten social rules.  We don’t cut in line, we don’t touch other people, we don’t crowd people to get them to move.  They like people saying ‘please’ ‘thanks’ and ‘excuse  me.’  We smile or nod at strangers we pass on the street.
  • People obey traffic rules-stop on red, stay in your own lane,  and as long as they aren’t riding with me, they feel safer here.
  • Stores have plenty of items in stock, cashiers are polite, no one tries to cheat them, stores have consistent, posted hours.

They don’t like our lack of public transportation.  They loathe being dependant on others to give them rides.  They hate wearing seatbelts.  They are pissy that no one permits them to download music illegally.  They miss being able to go to pubs and clubs to drink and dance.  They abhor girls spitting and farting in public. 

They don’t understand sales tax.  In their countries, the price on the sticker is the walk out the door price.  Of course, they have tax built in to the product, but that apparently doesn’t count.  I’ve tried to explain each city, county, and state is free to set whatever tax they want.  The rates and items taxed vary in each jurisdiction. I’d say state sales taxes are their biggest pet peeve.


2 Comments so far
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Thanks for putting that up. That actually gave me warm American fuzzies. 🙂 I’ll have to tell my husband because we had fun in the car playing “what would you miss the most.” Because he actually lived in India, he had his list ready (most of which involved food, sigh…).

Comment by colorblindcupid

wow we really take for granted our good our infrastructure is (utilities, etc) – if the phone or electricity goes out, I just get on the horn and notify the company…and it’s back on within a day. When I lived in Hurricane country, the maximum we were without power was a day and a half. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

I feel lucky every day to live here.

Comment by chineseambassador

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