Culture Clashes

I watched a couple of good movies this weekend. They made me think of how different cultures are. While I have been able to compare a lot of the culture differences between the US and Colombia, they are both in the American continent, they are both capitalist and well western.

Europeans seem to be able to do the whole cultural sensitivity dance. Being so close to people that have a complete different background helps. I can drive for hours and still find myself in the great plains of America, but in Europe a couple of hours can put you in a place that speaks a totally different language and you have not even left Spain. Yes, not everyone in Spain speaks Spanish, just in case you did not know. Americans are very naive when it comes to the world, sheltered, and at times even arrogant. We think that our way of life is the way of life that everyone in the world should have. While I do think that democracy and capitalism are great principles, at times at wonder if our culture of “one size fits all” can really accommodate the whole world.

I don’t even know where to start, mostly because I am not even sure of what I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes I feel that it is important that my audience, mostly people in the US get a glimpse of what I know about the world outside of the US. Then my other urge is to reach outside of American and show the world that; hey America is not the Evil Empire that at times it appears to be. In the end I am left with so many questions and no answers. Are Americans really that arrogant that they think everyone should live like them? Is the world really that misinformed that they think that America is just out to conquer the world? Is making others think really something that can be accomplished via a simple blog?

Happy 4th

One thing the always amuses me about the 4th of July is the following question.

Is there 4th of July in England?

If someone answered no, don’t admit it on the comments.

Now that you hopefully smiled, let me just say… I am proud to be an American and Happy 4th of JULY!


I am not sure how many of you have made big moves during your lifetime, but man is it stressful. There is not only the packing and restablishing of the services in the new places, there is also the emotional stress of the people you are leaving behind.

I did not like Michigan as much as I had hoped I would. I like a lot of the people I met, but suprisingly enough it was a 50/50 kind of thing. I met a lot of jerks, losers and overall people that I just don’t want to associate with. Starting the process of meeting new people again can be a hard task… but what if the place where you are going everyone you meet is a decent person…

Growing up I moved around my hometown a couple of times. I never really considered it a big change, and most of my teenager years were spent in the same place. Even when I did move, I still saw my extended family every weekend and I managed to always stay in touch with most of the people I grew up with. When I started High School over there I got to know a lot of new people but only related to a few. Some of them I am still in contact with thanks to the internet. I had achieved a level of freedom in my city that was exhilarating for me. I could hop in a bus and get around the city with no problem. I would go visit friends, go watch movies or go to my favority burger and hotdog joint.

Then I moved to Chicago. Almost out of highschool and not knowing anymore language than what sesame street might have been able to teach me I became I suddenly lost all of my freedom. My parents were very concerned so I could not just say, I’ll be back later and set out to just hang out. Slowly I made some good friends, but it was not like in Colombia where the public transportation was very accesible to me. Here I had to be driven by other people if I wanted to get around. Not knowing English was another problem, I could not even go to a fast food place and get a meal. By the time I was a senior I had started to speak a little more english and I bought my first cars with the money I was making working at McD’s. It was as if the wings that were clipped when I moved had suddenly grown back.

One of the things I did first was drive as far as I could to get somewhat lost. Not to the point that I had to call someone, but where I would have to find my way back on my own. I got to know Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area pretty good. I will never forget the day that I took Travis around Chicago and showed him the city and he said, I cannot believe a foreingner is showing me my country. That is just how I am though, if you put me in a unknown environment I eventually find my way around.

I love Chicago. It is still my favorite city in the world. Great food, great blue collar attitude and just an overall pride that tells East and West coasters, we don’t have to shout we are better than you… we know we are. 😉

A little over 3 years ago a job brought me out to Michigan. I have only the good friends that I made to be thankful about. Besides that this state really beat me up emotionally. People are overall cold and reserved. Even though they are always polite, they say how are you doing without really caring what you respond. At times I felt like responding, purple turtle, to see if anyone would even notice. I did make some great friends, but it happened toward the very end of my life here. I did get to meet a lot of people, but most of them were just passing friends. I hope my friends do come and visit me out in KC some times, but if I know anything from experience, only a couple of them will make it out there.

So far I have spent a total of a couple of weeks out in KC, but I am amazed at how nice people are. I would venture to say that the people are even nicer than the ones in Chicago, but maybe I have just been lucky and met all the nice ones first. My coworkers welcomed me in such a way that I never expected. I did not need to rent cars or pay for hotels because they were all ready to take care of me while I needed it. One of the things that always bothered me about moving to Michigan was that after I got the job my boss never invited me out to dinner, his church or any other event. I felt that since he was the one that made me move out here he should have done a lot more to make me feel confortable than do a simple drive by the apartments I was going to move into. When I voiced that to people in the past they always told me I was expecting too much. At my new job I have not even have to ask once, and I have gotten dinner, free stays and an overall commitment to make sure I feel confortable in KC. Someone could argue that maybe it is that the companies were different sizes… but in reality, my last employer could have afforded a lot more than what they did for me. Maybe it is just KC, maybe I am just lucky… even thought moving is not easy, meeting new people made me understand that “alone” does not apply when you have good freinds around.