Saturday, May 7, 2011

That's surprising

Things about the United States that surprise my Brazilian friends:
- Hotels, even fancy ones, do not provide a fabulous, free, fresh breakfast (B&Bs yes, but hotels, no).
- You can get a perfectly good education in public schools.
- The bill collector can seize your home if you get sick and have mounting medical bills.
- Your parents will likely shoo you out of the house once you reach 18 years old.
- There are city law enforcement agents who actually issue traffic/parking violations, really.
- Chinese take-out costs about US$7.00 (and you can find it for less).
- Clothing stores sell XXXL T-shirts or sweatshirts.
- There are no dessert pizzas.
- Classes to learn English as a foreign language are often free.
- If you buy a twelve-pack of Coke it costs less than 12 individual cans.
- There are no vendors on the beach.
- Drivers yield for pedestrians, most of the time.
- Most restaurants close at 10:00 p.m. (except for the 24 hr variety that you generally do not want to eat in anyway).
- Meat cooked on the grill is not covered in salt, rather, a sloppy, spicy sauce.
- Your cell phone service does not cost more than your car payment.
What am I forgetting…


The Reader said...

The most glaring omission I see in your list -- the wait staff at the restaurant will hover over you, and will not gently hide in the shadows. And they will show up with your bill when they need your table, not when you are done eating and looking for them.

Everything else looks good.

Danielle said...

Some of my students were surprised that Americans put coins into a newspaper stand and can physically take all the newspapers but take only the one they paid for.

Jana @ Paper plains said...

hmm maybe that when you shop at wal-mart (if you so choose) its actually cheap! as in plastic plates can be found for 4$ not 12$ and so forth with everything else...

now you should do the reverse =)

Ray and Gil said...

-Most Brazilians are usually surprised with the price of gasoline in the US, so cheap here.
-Also surprised that people can (could until recently) buy a house with no down payment.
-There are only TWO political parties.
-That houses are built entirely out of wood.
-Walls that you can kick your foot completely through it and don't even spray your ankle.

-How cheap electronics cost in the US.
-How cheap everything cost in the US.
-How individualistic Americans can be.
-Brazilians are surprised that American public workers are as inefficient as Brazilian public workers... :(
Geez, we could easily write a book!

Laural Out Loud said...

This was a fun post to read! It made me think of all the times I've been in Brazil and come across something in wonderment, lol.
-Cashiers aren't allowed to sit in chairs
-Drivers obey the traffic laws and keep the number of lanes to what's marked on the pavement
-You have to pump your own gas (at least in most States)
-You can trust the postal service

Nina said...

how cold it can get in the northern states and that people still go to work or school.

.polyana. said...

how high school and college really isn't like in the movies & tv shows...

Anita said...

Laural Out Loud: "Cashiers aren't allowed to sit in chairs". Sad & shocking.
And hey ! Sweet pizzas for dessert is just a crazy Brazilian invention, not popular in most parts of Brazil.

Anonymous said...

Re kids getting shooed out at 18, I think that has changed and we are so soft as parents we are letting them stay till their late 20s till they save up for a down payment on a house.
My husband and I always laugh at ourselves when we arrive at an empty restaurant in Belo Horizonte at 7 pm and the place is empty. We say, here is Brasil we are before the rush and in Canada everyone would have dined and gone home by that time.
I always felt safe crossing at a cross walk in BH, that the drivers were very observant of the red lights and cross signs.
About public education I recall a study done in Ontario, Canada that compared marks of students leaving grade 12. Of all the different schools - public, private, religious, non-religious, partial French and total French, and every combination, there was a difference of only about 5 percentage points.

Jim said...

Reader - Speaking of... I loved the waiters in Turkey. They only came to serve and please. When you plate was empty they would swoop in with a clean plate and flateware to encourage you to stay longer and eat more.

Danielle - some small town values-type things in the USA are warm and fuzzy, like the one you mention.

Janna - finding cheap plastic ware here just means finding plastic ware so incedibly thin you need to use two just to be able to hold it without it crumpling... ah well...

Ray - you can truly see the distinctions! My FIL was dumbfounded to learn that houses and wall were made of wood and drywall.

Laurel - not only do residents of the USA have to pump their own gas, but no nice woman comes to give them a fresh cafezinho while they are stopped at the gas station. LOL!

Nina - that US pioneering spirit!

polyana - NOTHING is like you see on TV - except maybe reruns of the Roseanne show.

Anita - my fahter, a carpenter, used to say to me: "If you are sitting down, you are not working." Not always true, but he was trying to make a point.

Anon - with the economy in the tank I can see how parents are willing to host their children longer. My folks definitely looked at me in the months running up to my 18th birthday with a gleam in their eye. They were anxious for the peace and quiet.

I always tell my students that in the US when you go on a date you go to dinner and a move. Here you go to a movie and then dinner.

Thanks all.

Heather said...

@Ray - The houses made of wood thing completely baffled my partner's family. He showed them pictures of the house we live in, and they were like, "Why did they put wood on the outside of the house?" So he asked me, and then when I explained how the house is actually constructed of wood, you'd think I'd told him it was made of jelly beans.