8 Things About American Culture That Still Baffle Me

I have been living in the US for a little while now and I am sinking into the ‘routine’ of an average American. It remains a mystery to me whether I like it or not but life is moving and if I am not moving with it then what am I doing? Existential crisis aside, there are still some things in American culture that puzzle me and I hope this never goes away (once they do I believe I will be able to call myself ‘assimilated’). But for now, I am just confused by some of these things. So, if you know the answer to why these things are so hard to grasp - please let me know. I am all shades of confused over here and it is not a pretty color on me.

1. Sugar in Bread
Now, bread is life. Trust me when I say: I can give up chocolate but bread? NO WAY. #CarbsWontLetMeGo. If I am being completely honest - I can give up American bread in a heartbeat but not my perfect Ukrainian one. Why you ask? Well, sorry, but your bread is not tasty and SURPRISE! American bread has sugar in it. Hm… why? So that you can get addicted? If someone can explain to me why is it necessary to have sugar in your bread I will send you a postcard.

2. Free Water in Every Restaurant
I know, I know - it is just tap water. But it is a thought that counts, right? And the fact that you will stay hydrated and you won’t have to pay for it! I honestly am enjoying this ‘feature’ of the American life so so much. When go back to Ukraine and have to pay for my water it actually makes me a bit mad. Granted, you wouldn’t want to drink Ukrainian tap water so I guess it is understandable. I am sure if I ask politely for some tap water in a Ukrainian restaurant they wouldn’t mind bringing out that glass of cancer to me.

3. Consumerism/Choices
When I need to buy something out of the ordinary (like a new water bottle for example) I am petrified. You want to know why? Because I will spend hours on hours on end at the store or online because of the numerous choices I am offered: the water bottle where you can keep fruits at the bottom, the one with a cute design, the simple one, the plastic one, the glass one, the one with a handle, the one that screams out my name when I pick it up… The longer I live here the more it becomes clear to me why people have so much of the same stuff here: they just can’t make a damn choice because it is too difficult to settle on one.

4. The non- GMO Products Obsession
I can’t even talk about this one. Really, America? Ukraine has been on this topic for years now. Thank you for not being so proactive and realizing that GMO is bad for you until a couple of years ago. Makes this Ukrainian very proud of her country (I mean, I am always proud but this ‘extra’ doesn’t hurt).

5. The Throw Pillow Obsession
I don’t like throw pillows. There, I said it. I mean, they are cute and of course I have some in my house but they all serve a specific purpose: some are covering the parts of my couch I don’t want people to see and I have one in my guest room cause y’all are obsessed with throw pillows! Apparently, the more throw pillows you have on your bed in America - the fancier you are… Ok, so when I sleep over in the houses that have 25 thousand throw pillows on the beds you know what I do? I take them off and put them on the floor. They stay there for the duration of my stay, blocking my way to the bed. Tell me this: why? Why do Americans think that throw pillows are the stuff? Please tell me - maybe I am missing out?! Don’t want to catch any FOMO.

6. Insurance Craze
How many insurance packages does an average American have? Oh, I don’t know, let’s count:
a) Health Insurance
b) Dental
c) Vision
d) Car Insurance
e) Rental Insurance
f) Life Insurance
Am I missing something? COME ON. I can’t live in this country unless I have a Medical insurance. I can’t drive a vehicle unless I have car insurance. I can’t rent an apartment unless I have renter’s insurance… You can read more about my stand on American Healthcare here but oh, my goodness I sometimes feel like this country is a giant ICU. Not that it is bad to be protected and insured - it is the part where it is mandatory that bugs my free spirit.

7. Free Stuff
It is astonishing to me how far companies and organizations will go in order to keep their customers satisfied. I understand that this is all a great marketing strategy (when you go to a coffee shop and you take a sticker with their logo you are most likely going to place it on some surface. Someone will most likely ask you about it. ‘The word of mouth’ at its finest). There is an Art Crawl in Nashville happening every month. Some galleries provide free wine and hors d’oeuvres. For free. Just because. Just because you came. And also because you are going to remember that gallery over any other. ‘Cause food. We always buy in for food.

8. The Sense of Community
We had Andrew’s brother visiting us and my neighbor across the street waited on her front porch for me to come home so that she could tell me that there was a strange man on my property earlier that morning. She was rather disappointed that is was just Matt and not some juicy gossip but my point is: the neighborhood cares. There is a scene in the movie Footloose (2011) where they decided to do the dance and the whole community is decorating the barn? Yes, that is exactly how I feel about the community closeness of community in America. It maybe a little Hollywood-y but I think the heart is there and I think it is beautiful.

So there you go! Were you surprised by my list? Are there things that should be making me all puzzled and confused? Which aspects make you question culture? Let me know in the comments below!

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