Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Top 10 insignificant American facts

(aka “First Impressions in the US”)

Missie (see I did it again), this ones for you!

This topic would be taken from my observations while back in the States. They are very trite, mundane, and rather arbitrary observations that typically one would not give much thought. However after being away for 2 years, they are things I became keenly aware of just because they are so different than in my current country of residence.

Here goes….

#10 Ice…Americans like their ice. Every beverage glass is loaded often to the top with ice. Even when I would say, ‘easy on the ice’ it just meant my drink came with a ½ cup of ice opposed to the normal full. Drastically different than here and probably most places around the world. Here we have to ask to even get ice in our drink and even then it usually takes 3 requests to get more than 3 cubes. Oh and by the way, the cubes are a miniature version of those in the States, as are most things.

#9 Size…The typical global size small is LARGE and large is gargantuan in the good ole USA. I quickly realized that a small beverage was quite enough for me and the kids. Now the Big Gulp, enough to quench the thirst of our entire family and those dining around us.

#8 Refills…. Free (being the key word here) Refills..... never would happen here! I also realized a glaring difference when ordering coffee in a restaurant. In SA coffee typically is served with hot milk. Why because with the hot milk your beverage remains hot the entire drinking duration. In America, we don’t need hot milk because the waitress keeps the coffee hot the entire drinking duration….the cup is refilled sip after sip after sip. Actually it kind of drove me nuts as just when I would get my coffee how I liked it the waitress would refill the cup.

#7 Starbucks….what more needs to be said?!

(Did you realize my first 3 all dealt with beverages...I told you I drank a lot)

#6 Portions…..HUGE! At first this was a very welcomed sight but by the end of the trip I was ready for SA portions…or as American’s would term it a dieter’s portion. I guess I not only drank a lot I ate a lot.

#5 Temperature….Even in 90 degree weather I utilized my sweatshirts because no matter how warm it is outside it is still FREEZING inside. Really how hard is it to find a comfortable temperature…I don’t understand?!

#4 House Rules….You take your shoes off when entering someone’s house in America. Here it isn’t an issue as most South African’s don’t wear shoes (really!). My poor kids were so confused as to when they had to take their shoes off, when they had to wear shoes and the why as to both.

#3 Cereal…..It takes 10 minutes to choose a cereal in America because there is an entire isle, both sides, devoted to cereal. Here choices are corn flakes, muesli, corn flakes, rice krispies, corn flakes, granola, corn flakes and that is about it. Oh, did I mention corn flakes? Needless to say, we enjoyed the American cereal isle!

#2 TV….No one watches TV shows during their actual showing time in the land of the free…everything is PVR’d. I am so unfamiliar with that concept and term that frankly I don’t even know if I spelled…or is it abbreviated it correctly.

#1 BUY ONE GET ONE FREE…..(There is that word again) Those 5 words completely invigorated and excited me. I was mesmerized as I looked through the Sunday newspaper ads and saw this phrase slathered throughout. Heck, I even wanted to go out and buy a chia pet for no other reason than I would get one free (well and maybe for the next blog contest prize). I know I am a marketer’s dream. The word free is not in the SA dictionary so perhaps you can understand my enthusiasm. Let me say it again….free….free (in a loud voice)….free (in a small voice)….free (in a Donald Duck voice)……free (with a South African accent)…..Oh it sounds so good!


Karenkool said...

Hahaha. Well, you definitely didn't visit NY, did you? I would say that a lot of what you mentioned is more of a mid-western tradition.
In my neck of the woods, we don't ever get drink refills without having to pay each time. We don't have the freezing air-conditioned places everywhere. I hate that too. We use the windows for air, or fans when it gets hot. You only get HUGE portions of food if you go to a dinner. Many restaurants here serve your meal a la cart and charge a fortune! It's just enough--and usually very tasty! I don't know about PVR but we DO use the DVR or the TIVO to record programs and then we can skip through all the commercials. I'm sure the advertisers are kicking and screaming! Oh--I love the cereal aisle too, especially during the buy one get one free week.

Anyway--all I'm sayin' is... you should have come visit me!!! I would have kept the ice out of your glass and served you starbucks in the french press.

sarah said...

Loved it....we're getting ready to go back in three weeks and I must say, I am already looking forward to almost all of those 10 things!!

Karenkool said...

*Diner* not dinner. duh!

Beth said...

I don't know about PVR either . . . did you really mean DVR? (Digital Video Recorder).

Yes, tivo is the rage and I'm am actually shocked when I hear of people not having it—best invention this century!! (Except for the Mac, of course!)

I always order "Easy Ice" as well. I like a little ice but usually the only way to get just a little is to order "No Ice" and then steal a couple of cubes from your kids. : )

So fun and refreshing to get your perspective. How often we forget we live in such abundance.

Heidi Jo said...

you summed it up well. we are lazy, fat, and cheap.

okay, those were my words not michelle's...so don't jump on her for it:0)

but, really- we are.

michelle f said...

Okay so I learned that it is called PVR here Personal.Video.Recorder...which is funny that I did not really even know about it. Well we only have 3 channels and most of the shows are in other languages so why would I want to record any?..hee! And it is DVR or TIVO in the states...not so big prior to my moving here, obviously huge now.

Karen...french press is my favorite way to have Starbucks!

Sarah, it was very fun and you will enjoy all those things...fill up the tubs to come back!

Lisa H said...

Fun and funny list! :)

I loved the temperature one-I totally would not have understood that one before I moved to Texas. I'm sure you remember from when you lived here, but it seems so weird to take a jacket along when it's over 100 degrees outside, but anywhere you go is SO COLD inside!

Just Mom said...

I remember visiting Ireland and asking for ice in my soft drink. The waitress looked at me as if I was nuts. You should have seen the look on the hotel manager's face when I asked for a bucket of ice for our room.

Funny stuff, Michelle.

Missie said...

I love it! I was really looking forward to this blog :) Thanks Michelle!!!

Penless Thoughts said...

This was not only an insightful look at US from your objective eyes but really cute.

gaylafriend said...

HA! You nailed the good ole US of A. (at least the midwest and southern parts of it!) I agree w/ Heidi Jo. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey Michelle,
Just a few comments on your blog (very cute by the way). I especially thought your #5 was interesting since when we were at the beach your condo was the coldest and we all wore jackets and had icicles falling off our noses(hee hee).
#2 - not everyone has TIVO - we sure don't (would like it though).
#1 - I like the BOGO too.
I just won't comment on #4.
All in all great and fun summary of the US of A.

Anonymous said...

TV….No one watches TV shows during their actual showing time in the land of the free…everything is PVR’d. I was totally confused on this one until our fellow bloggers set us straight. I have no idea about tivo, but I hear it's great (first learned that from the Hasz household when my daughter babysat there:)

It's very sad how blessed we are in this country and we still complain that we can't find the things we want in the stores. Bunch of spoiled brats, huh?!

Highday said...

I can't believe the ice thing!

Fun post!

nickernoodle said...

Loved the list and laughed at each one. Yes, we are fortunate to be here in the good ol USA but we take things for granted. I love reading about your life and how different living in another country is compared to here. Can't wait to hear more about your trip! Glad you are back, I missed you!