Alternative Perspective

A look at British culture from an outside perspective and a look at American culture from an outsider living within it's borders.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Subtle Oddities

If there's one thing that struck me as different when moving to America, it's everything.

Excuse me while I sit and bask in the brilliance of my own wonderfully confusing previous statement. It's not a twee little turn of phrase at all, it's true. Everything is different. That's more striking than any individual thing. Nothing is the same, not even things you'd presume to be the same. The differences aren't drastic... it's not the sort of culture shock you'd receive moving to Japan by a long way, but every single thing is different.

Cadbury's chocolate in America doesn't taste the same. It tastes worst incidentally. Pepsi here tastes a lot better than it does in England (German Pepsi ranks pretty highly too, but steer clear of the French stuff incidentally... ). Blades of grass are different. Clouds are different. Rain is different. Cars, roads, shops, people, TV, everything... different in at least one subtle way.

Some things better somethings worth, but everything different. It's easy to see how people get homesick. Me, I'm left eternally hankering for Quavers, but also overjoyed that Mountain Dew is readily available over here. Rough with the smooth and all that.

That's pretty much what this Blog is going to cover. Everything and anything. Like differing attitudes...

From what I can tell, most people in England think that Tom Cruise's reaction to being squirted with water was appallingly bad, over here people are commending him for it. As close as the two countries are thought to be, they're totally divergant over certain issues. The infamous Janet Jackson nipple... in England there was a two fold reaction to that, amusement at the incident and sheer bemusement at the American's reaction. Perhaps it's because there are certain people in the UK that make a habit of running naked past cameras at live sports events. Streakers... not famous celebrities. They make the front page of the newspaper the next day and it's all seen as quite amusing.

America's 'think of the children' reaction seemed utterly insane from the UK, and I think it's safe to say that so far, no harmful after effects have occured, because a child saw a naked boobie. What did they think would happen anyways? After all, if a kid is too young to be sexually awakened, it's meaningless, and if a kid is old enough to be interested in breasts, seeing another one wouldn't have done any harm. The Discovery channel occasionally has dozens of breasts swinging about right in the middle of the day! Don't talk to me about 'it was the unexpectedness of it that was so bad' because if i'm channel surfing at 3 in the afternoon, I'm not expecting to see breasts on any channel.

That's just as an example anyway... I really wanted to talk about two things from yesterday. A trip to the dentists and a trip to Boston.

Brits have a bad reputation when it comes to their teeth, and I can't say mine compare to the average Americans. I wouldn't say i'm far off, but I have a tooth or two that are a bit misaligned. So when I went to my dentist's over here the first time and they asked me 'when was your last professional cleaning' and I said 'never', it wasn't exactly my fault. No one in England that I know of has a bi yearly professional cleaning with sonic scraper and rubber spinny thing... but the woman looked at me with utter shock. I snuck a look at my dental records while they were letting the anaesthetic take yesterday and saw 'NEVER HAD A PROFFESSIONAL CLEANING!!' written in it.

In England when you have a filling they use three things. A needle, a drill and a syringe with the filling paste stuff. In America they give you anaesthetic before they give you the anaesthetic injection! They take out this little swab and apply some blue minty stuff to the area they plan to inject. That's crazy to me, the injections never really hurt all that much but there you go. Then they use all these clamps and things that look like hair driers and the like.

I must say though, that they do do a good job, and I'm glad that I have decent dental coverage. Funnily enough the first time I went, I was just chatting away with the dentist, and I mentioned I'd moved from England.

Well he told me that he'd thought about moving to England, but that they didn't recognise American dental certifications over there. He'd have had to go to school all over again, and it's pretty well known that the average American dentist is better than the average English one. Needless to say he decided to stay in America rather than abandon his carreer or go to school for another six years.

Heck, if an American dentist opened up in England they'd probably be packed with a huge waiting list. Perhaps the looser standards of dental care in England makes all of us Brit's less self conscious about our smiles. We aren't bumping into anyone with perfectly alligned teeth with white veneers every other day. Maybe that's why we can have a good laugh when a naked boobie pops out, though maybe not.

Sometimes, you learn something without learning it. For me, touchtyping wasn't anything I tried to be able to do. I typed a lot, writing stories and doing school work and messing about on the computer, and one day realised I didn't need to look at the keys anymore. Well I have an ability that I never knew I had till I moved to the states.

It surprised me to realise that English people look different to Americans. America is a big country too, but North, South, East and West I've been able to pick out the Brit's from just looking at them. It's mostly subtle facial proportions as far as I can tell (maybe it's the teeth) but it feels a little weird. Since there's no conscious search for tell tale features, it almost feels like a psychic ability at times. I just look at someone and my brain goes 'Brit!', and it's not been wrong to my knowledge yet.

We see American's all the time on TV in the UK, and it never occured to me that I'd be able to tell the difference based on appearances. I never claimed to be able to do it when I lived in England, but in someways it makes sense. Everything is different even phsyical appearances between the average person on the street, and when someone looks the way I'm used to people looking for the majority of my adult life, I can tell.

It's been eye opening, because I'd never realised before that physical racial attributes might diffentiate between caucasians. If anything it makes me feel that being biased based on colour of skin more stupid... because that's being biased based on only one of the dozens of things that differentiate one race from another.

Societies aren't all the same, and neither are the people that live in them thank god, otherwise the world would be a much more boring place.


At 4:07 AM, Blogger BlogMaster said...

i guess ill chime in here and say thanks for the information, maybe some day ill start a blog....... maybe lol.

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