Blog Post

UX2 Group #1

Post your UX2 assignment here.  This is your observations of Americans and connecting to Americans.

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50 comments

I believe that one of the most important aspects of human beings is the ability to listen. Many people possess great communication abilities and consider them essential to survive in the community. However, in my opinion, the first action that one person has to take, especially when she is in another country is to listen. Before acting and speaking, it is extremely important to understand the essence and the person with who she finds herself.

Since I have arrived in the United States, I have tried my best to pay attention to the American behavior and lose myself in their culture. Spending time with native people and seeing how they live their daily routine is one of the best ways to do it.

Before my arrival, my thought of the Americans was influenced by the well-known stereotypes, and I was curious to confirm or deny them.

Analyzing Americans, I noticed that they can be “divided” into two main clusters: the old generation and the new one. The first group, is composed by people that, for example, have a completely different fashion style from us and many times conduct an unhealthy lifestyle and alimentation. This group is the one that in many cases has confirmed my initial beliefs. I will call them “the traditional Americans”.

On the other side there are those I will give the nickname “the new Americans”. This group is formed by kids and young adults that, in my opinion, have a different way of expressing themselves. They have some similarities to Italian people. To explain in more depth my take on the two groups of Americans, I believe it would be better go through my personal experience here in Philadelphia.

I had decided to live in an apartment with a twenty-nine year-old American girl so that every day I would have the opportunity to interact with her and American culture.

I retain that she is the example of the new Americans. She has an active and busy lifestyle but despite her commitment to her job, she tries to find personal time to spend in some healthy habits. For instance, every week she receives a package with all the ingredients and the recipes to cook her weekly meals. Ordering her food online, she is able to save time but also has the opportunity to consume food of good quality. Moreover, she is a sportive woman, so one of the main clichés regarding the laziness of Americans concerning sports is outdated.

I noticed another division of the Americans in a brunch I attended with some Italian and American friends. During this occasion, they expressed to us the difference in behavior of people that live in cities such as New York with comparison to those who live in San Francisco. The latter are more relaxed and polite, whereas the former live a more fast-paced, work-oriented lifestyle.

From all of these confirming experiences I have had, there are many differences across a population within the same country, and they depend largely on the education and place where the people live.

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I agree whit Giulia's point of view. A lot of young people that I meet here love the european style of life.They take care about themselves doing a lot of sport and eating organic food or doing vetarian diet. so the old american style is changing!

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Giulia! yes, it's true! The ability to listen is very important and unfortunately there is a lack of this, very often people talk too much. Your "division" between old and new generation is very interesting, I didn't think about it and it seems very suitable and realistic. Very good analysis! See you tomorrow to eat a great pasta in bianco, ciao!

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Listening to various conversations, I noticed that American people are conscious of the differences that define them from one another. The Americans that live in the southern states, such as Alabama, are aware of the qualities that make them distinct from those born on the west coast or Hawaii. For instance, a New Yorker, lives a completely different lifestyle from those living in other parts of the nation. He has a characteristic and recognizable manner of speaking and seems to live life at a much faster pace. 

The other day, during brunch, I was talking to a man who has been residing for a year in Philadelphia, who had previously lived in San Francisco. He told about the differences in lifestyle, jokingly mentioning how it was even obvious in the humor and degree of kindness of people. A metropolitan area like New York offers a more fast-moving pace, with people living there concerned more with their individual identities than with establishing a connection with others.  

Much in the same way, Northern Italy's inhabitants differ greatly from Southern Italy's inhabitants. From this we can conclude that we, as a people, are conditioned by our surroundings, regardless of our character. People living near the sea in a temperate climate, such as Florida, tend to be more relaxed than people living in a metropolitan area like New York. 

I meet a lot of young Americans, between the ages of 20 and 30 that live alone and are able to support themselves. Many times they live a great distance away from their parents and families. They may see each other scarcely, communicating with them infrequently, say once a week or once a month. I think that this is an important difference with young Italian people, who tend to be less resourceful and depend more on original family. For example talking to a girl in Starbucks, I learned that she was willing to relocate anywhere to realize the life of which she dreams.  

I found this outlook drastically different from mine. I, on the other hand, am very attached to my native city and my people. Despite our differences, I am able to appreciate her spirit of adventure and focus on achieving her goals. 
 
The lesson that I have learned in only two weeks of visiting here in America is not to be afraid to pursue what you want. To try and fail is better than never having tried at all.                                                                                   

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It was extremely interesting how Claudia in her assignment compare Americans to Italian people. I definitely agree that the surrounding environment influenced ourselves and behaviors. Lastly I appreciate her conclusion….”try and fail is better than never having tried at all”. So let’s be brave!

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Yes, I understand the point of view of Claudia, also I noticed that in US is normal to live away from the family or go in another place to work, instead in Italy we are more connected with the place where we live and the family, I think also that in Italy we mainly left our city because we are forced by the lack of job. 

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Today is the 14th day of this incredible experience in America. Of course I had time to relate with Americans and with the new culture in which I’ve introduced myself. The expectations were very high, because it wasn’t the first time in the US and I had always have beautiful experiences with the inhabitants.

Actually, the very first time I got in contact with an American was at the airport: the taxi driver. He was quite rude and irritated because it wasn’t able to find the street address that I gave to him. During all the trip he never spoke to me and when we arrived to my new house, he answered to my “Goodbye” with a mumble. I thought that probably the idea of friendly and polite Americans that I made in the West of the country, was only true for not-big-city-reality. Anyway I decided to leave all the comments to the next day.

It turned out to be the right choice, because in the following days I had the chance to meet my house owners: two beautiful people that remind me the warm welcome that I experimented in my past trips around America. They related with me as a family, let me explore the neighborhood of Philadelphia that are not marked on the maps, they took me around the city and recommended some nice places where to go and have a dinner with friends. We had the chance to have a “family dinner” together and exchange our own cultures. Generally, they make me feel at home even if I’m 8.614km away.

Anyway, I believe that to have a complete view I need to look at the external reality, too. For this reason I walked around in the center of Philly. Everywhere I met beautiful and awesome people, that really make you feel welcome: it doesn’t mind if they are in late or if they are walking in the opposite direction to yours, if you are in trouble they will stop and help you!

Finally, I believe that every experience in life leaves you a lesson to learn. So, this time I learnt that you have not to judge people from the first impression, you need to go deeper and you will find out if you were right at first or if, maybe, the people that you used to consider so different are closer to you that what you expected, instead!

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Martina, can you repost this in DT#2?

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I have always loved Usa! And one of the reason is that they are more similar to italian in certain behaviour … With some difference, obviously!

When I was young, my parents always sent me to Ireland or Uk for studying english but I've never felt comfortable, because they are really cold and unkind people. Otherwise I'm Italian and I love affectionate people!

American, instead, are very easy-going and Philadelphia - it is no coincidence - is the city of brotherly love!

One of the things that has always affected me about the Americans is the kindness of waiters, shop assistants, cashiers ... When you walk into a shop - for istance - they always ask you "Hey, how are you doing?".

Despite being a circumstance greeting, in which the person asking the question does not expect an answer, I find it a delightful way to approach.

The first time I heard it, I'll never forget: I did not expect it at all, so I talked about five minutes of my intense day, ending with an "And what about you ?!"

The shop assistant started laughting!!!

Now I have learned! I just reply with a big smile and a simple "Good!" But I really appreciate this custom!

Another thing that impressed me is happened two days ago. I was smoking out of my apartment when an old man, who was walking with his dog, passed in front of me and said "Good morning!"

I usually do the same in Italy, for instance with the neighbor, but never with stranger one! I definetly enjoyed it, it made me feel so local!

Lastly, I've noted a different way for greetings.
In Italy we use to kiss everyone you meet, not just parents or relatives but also friends and sometimes acquaintances too.

I've tried to do the same here with a girl and she told me that this is a too much phisical approach for Americans. They usually don't kiss each other, when they meet they hug at most!

I think that these behaviors might summarize what I think about American: kind people, open to others and available to help.

They are accomodating and tollerant, but I need to remember that I have to restrict myself to shake their hands and not kiss them !!

In conclusion, I think that due to this experience I’ll be able to be less affectionable but at the same time I’ll teach Americans to be it more!

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Ilaria,

Can you repost this to DT#2?

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Listening, Paying Attention and Connecting to Americans:
When I am in a new country what I prefer mainly is walking around the city, I like observing carefully people moves, their habits, how they behave; I like smelling the city, I love tasting the typical food, finding out not touristic places but places where you can see the daily reality. In few words, I absolutely like diving in the culture of a country. That is why I hardly ever took a bus in Philadelphia and I have walked miles and miles in order to enjoy every single moment.
Yesterday, I decided to go in the city center to see how American citizens respond to the new elected president Donald Trump. When I got there, I was really surprised because despite they were protesting against Trump, it didn’t look like a dangerous place to be; there were babies, old and young people, everybody in a row with a lot of colorful flags. It was a pacific protest.
After that, given that I still have a lot of things to delete from my American Bucket list, I visited Society Hill; from a modern landscape, I found myself hundreds of years back in time. There was an amazing atmosphere and a feeling of quietness and peace around me, no traffic and no noises; these old little houses built with red bricks reminded me some London’s suburbs and the people in the street were so calm and not stressed and busy like in the city center where everybody runs from one office to the other.
While I was walking down the street, I met a grandmother with her nephew, I stopped her because I was looking for a good cheese steak (everybody told me that it is one of the most traditional food in Philadelphia), but she was not from here (she lives in New York) so she kindly called her daughter to suggest me the best place to go, she really wanted to help me. We started to talk about our lives, she grew up in NYC and she really loves to be there for her retirement. I like how easily you can meet people and know stories about them; She also told me that she was married to an Italian man that lives not so far from my town. It is incredible how the world is small and how we are all connected each other.

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I find interesting how Valentina is experiencing Philadelphia doing things that an American would do. I agree with her when she says that it's really easy to talk to people here, because everyone is so friendly and ready to help even if they're busy.

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When Valentina describes Philadelphia, I feel the same emotion and I'm agree with her, in a few minutes Americans can tell interesting details about their lives. 

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We have seen film, have studied, and have listened songs about the American dream, but only now I understand what this idiom means. 
Everyday is a discovery and as If I'm an alien from an other galaxy, I try to listening  and connecting to Americans. 
According to me there is one way in which a foreigner can enter in contact with a completely different culture: watch their tv programs. 
For my personal ideas is a comfortable way to watch from my sofa their customs and traditions, their taste in what concern food, music and political ideas. 
It's quite difficult to me to understand a movie or a tv show without subtitles but it's a good way to train and learn also at home. 
According to me, an other way to be more familiar and to connect myself with an other culture it's to travel. 
For now I've only visited New York City, but I'm going to plan a lot of day trips in order to know the American in many ways.
What I've understood, from my own short experience, is that from two nearby city, like Philadelphia and New York, there can be big difference, a biggest gap than the cultural divide I've experimented living in Rome and Milan, two Italian city that are respectively in the center and in the north of the country.
I've noticed difference in the shops; I'm usually go to London cause my best friend lives here and in New York City I found a lot of European shops that in Philadelphia don't exist! 
An other difference is in the way of doing; since the first moment is clear that people in Philadelphia are more spontaneous than the ones in New York that have a more touristic approach. 
I could say a lot of things but it's understandable that America has inside itself a world. 
An other thing that surprised me most is that before come to Philadelphia I thought that have lived in England might have been helpful for me because they speak the same language. 
However Life it's completely different and also some words aren't the same. 
For my experience has been more easier start to live in Philadelphia than in London because as the Italians, the Americans are more friendly and extroverted than the english  people that are reluctant to socialize.
In conclusion connect myself with the American culture give me the chance to discover a side of the country that I had never dreamed of!

 

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I’m in Philadelphia almost from two weeks. It’s nice , Americans like italians and our accent , so it’s easy to talk and laugh with them. I’m starting to see some difference about American’ style. The first thing that i could see is about traffic. In Philadelphia there isn’t so much traffic so you can go everywhere in few time. The driveres don’t have stress and they drive so slow with calm. I live in Rome, so for me that is strange. In Rome, and usually in Italy, there is so much traffic and you can spend so much time in your car to reach your destination, so the drivers in italy have stress and hurry.

The streets  are cleaned and they are arranged in a checkerboard, so it’s easier to find the right street and understand where you are going. That is very important fot who dosen’t know well the city and want to go around.

When i ate at the restaurant i could learn that in America you have to give everytime the gratuity that is almost 20%. In italy is not obligatory and it’s not fixed , you can give what you want.

Americans and italians have different time. In Usa usually people have  lunch around 12 am and they have  dinner at 5/6 pm. In italy usually we have lunch almost at 1 pm and we have a luch at 8/9. It’s different about also about nightlife. In Philadelphia almost all clubs close at 2 am , maybe i think because Americans start their night early , around 8/9 pm . it was so strange for me in the brginner because i couldn’t understand, because in Italy a lot of clubs are opened over 2 am.

 Walking around the city i could see skyscrapers in the center and fast food everywhere , there i discovered cheese stake, i love it. I saw different Philadelphia areas. I was in Old city. It’s nice. the area has historic charm and an industrial feel, there are a lot of art galleries, loft buildings and furniture stores. At night, it turns into bar-hopping central where people go to drink a beer and have fun.

I went in South Philly where there are historic townhouses with backyards and driveways down small alleys have red, green and blue shutters, three-stepped stoops and brass door knockers. The famous Italian market is in Bella Vista. i like this american experience !!!

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I totally agree with Mattia about the different timings and habits Americans and Italians have. It is common to arrive home and find my roommates having diner at around 7pm, and this is very difficult to understand for me since I'm used to have diner at around 9pm. The same for lunch, it is difficult at 2pm finding the whole offering at campus canteen, since everyone has already eaten at that time. 

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Hi mattí! I agree with you about the differences of time... For us is very strange to have dinner at 6 pm, maybe is also too early to have an happyhour!
I don't agree with you about the traffic. In my opinion there is more traffic in Philadelphia than in Rome, at least the same, but surely in Philadelphia the drivers are more calm and less angry. See you tomorrow!

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America is a huge place where you can discover and keep in touch with different and incredible cultures. Wherever you will go, there will be something to learn or explore.

 Since the first day here in Philly, I noticed that the Americans are very fascinated by Italian culture, and they ask me about traditions and lifestyle in the most famous Italian city, Rome. When I say them that I come from Rome, they are very fascinated and surprised about the incredible and ancient story of my city. I believe that American people love Italy and it fascinates them, particularly the wide history, the arts and, of course, the food. So far, I am loving being here, people are really nice and friendly and I will do my best to take the most of it.  

Speaking with my house owners, I had the opportunity to know their habits. They are very kind with me, they related with me as a family and shared with me beautiful moment as a dinner together. They are very open minded people, full of knowledge and things to teach. The impression I got by comparing with my house owners, is that even coming from two different continents we love each other's country, in Italy we have the “American dream” in USA the “European dream”.

I noticed that people here are always smiling, no one in these two weeks has never been rude to me. Step by step I am learning to live here and to see American people with a different point of view, I am learning to understand people because I think is very important listen in order to know them.

I really appreciate the help of people to improve my english, sometimes, when I speak with americans, I make some mistakes, but they are even likely to speak slowly and correct my mistakes. In addition, people often asked me how I felt about Philadelphia, and it gave me the perception that they want to make sure that it’s not difficult to settle in. In this sense, they are incredibly tolerant and accommodating.

What a beautiful way to learn!

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I really loved the part where you speak about American and European dream; I think also that some American people have our same way to approach the situation and this helps us during the interaction. 

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I’m in Philadelphia since almost 3 weeks now, and day by day I’m getting more and more aware of how Americans people are.
The most difficult thing that I experencied here is listening, understand and follow American people when they speak: they talk really really fast so, even if i’m quite good in English, it’s very difficult for me to understand and I always have to ask them to talk slower. They do it but it’s not easy for them, it looks like they are forced to talk in a unnatural way.
What i really noticed about American people in general (every age ora race or gender) is their open and modern mind.
I could feel it in almost every context, from the most serious one to the easiest: they accept every race o religion, they are really capable with technology and they use it in everyday life (Uber was a big and pleasant discovery for me). American people, universities and society do believe in creativity, risk, entrepeneurship and they don’t consider failure as a loss, but as a chance to start againand do it better. I think that’s the reason why Silicon Valley and all the best start-ups are from America.
American People are also a lo tinto the “delivery at home system”; this is something that in Italy is not so common.
One more thing that really impressed me about America in watching a basket game athe the stadium:
it’s a really magic experience that goes beyond the game. In fact, even if I don’t like basket at all, i did enjoy the experience. Beside the game, there were a lot of entertaining show during the breaks with games, music, dance and lights. I do think that American are the best in fact of sense of show and entertainment, that’s why I also want to go a a wrestling show.
There ‘s one thing i still can’t understand about american culture: i don’t kno why clubs and pubs close at 2 a.m. at night. For me as an Italian it’s really hard to accept this fact. We are used to have pubs opened until 4 a.m. in Rome so, for me, to close a club at 2 a.m. it’s really nonsense. I also think sometimes that american young people do have a problem with alchool and drinking on Friday night: I like to drink and i’m used to hang out with people that drink, but here in America I think young generations drink really too much.

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In these two weeks I’ve been in the US, I had the chance to talk and connect to several Americans, from my flatmates to the people I see every day when I go out. It’s hard not to pay attention to the people I see in the city, mostly because they act and sound very different from what I’m used to. The most interesting fact that I noticed when I look at them from the outside is the way Americans are used to talk to people: they are always very straight-forward, and they never leave any room for doubt when they’re asking for something. This doesn’t mean that they’re rude, just that they like to be very direct when they know what they want.

Another interesting aspect is how every American expects justice when they are convinced to be right. I believe that the reason for this behavior lies in the fact that Americans rely so much on their legal system, while Italians know that even if they’re right they might still not be protected by the law. I also have the feeling that everyone always tries to have a positive attitude even when they don’t feel like it. I noticed that even when they’re working and they’re tired, Americans always try to do their best to help.

When I have a direct contact with Americans, I always think about how open and accepting they are. I believe that this is because America is a country founded on different cultures mixed together, so everyone had to be accepting from the very beginning in order to avoid conflicts.

Americans like to talk and they have a passion for small talk. While talking to them, I had the feeling that everyone is able to talk about anything when asked to, even if they don’t know a lot about the topic. No one ever says “I don’t know”, but they always have an opinion on everything. They like to ask for all the details and to always ask the reason of every action without being too nosy. I think that this aspect can be interesting because having a conversation with an American can always be a stimulating experience; at the same time though, I believe that sometimes too much small talk can make the conversation feel forced and not natural at all. 

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Silvia described well the aspects of conversations with random people. They are always talkative but not always aware of what they're saying. It happened to me that a driver started talking about a Pink Floyd song playing on the radio, saying how great are American music and American artists. Unfortunately, the band is from that United Kingdom.

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It has been two weeks now since I came to the US, and I have experienced many different situations in the first part of this new adventure. Living in South Philly, walking in the city center and studying at Saint Joseph’s campus, I immersed myself in different facets of the New World. The common feature that usually stands out among the people here in the US, and that is far from Italian habits, is the naturalness of showing their personality. I try to explain it better. The concept of freedom that we always associate to the American flag seems to be real while walking downtown, eating at restaurants, while meeting people on the subway or on Uber cars. Everyone acts natural while singing the song in his/her headphones, or dancing in front of many strangers during a hip-hop workshop at the African American History Museum, or even having long conversations about politics, Trump, family, food, economic systems, travels, Trump, sports, Italy, music, life in general or Trump. We are more reserved, more afraid of showing our feelings and our thoughts, more frightened of other people’s judgements.

One more interesting situation of ‘Americanness’ was during a basketball match at Wells Fargo Center. Sports are very important here in the US, and they are massively followed. This happens in Italy as well, with some differences though. At the Sixers’ game, on the stands there were home and away team fans mixed, enjoying the match, applauding and cheering for their teams (that is obvious), but even for opponents’ great plays. It looked like everyone before getting in the arena had agreed to some terms and conditions by sharing the highest values of sport such as respect, integrity and merit. No accidents, huge entertainment, big fun.

Americans know how to have fun and entertain masses, that is for sure. However, the city seems to be divided in two different realities: on the one hand, with students and middle-class workers, dynamic and friendly, easy going and open to meet new people, willing to start nice conversations and to help. On average the level of politeness and openness is very high comparing to Rome, and people are usually willing to have a chat and learn more about our stories. It happened that in an Uber car, a school teacher I was sharing the ride with, started giving me information about some good restaurants and places to visit in Philadelphia, without me asking for it. On the other hand one part is more reserved, closed, less inclined to get along with strangers, annoyed by repeating something said and misunderstood in English, and poorly willing to build a contact. Those are common characteristics even in European big cities. However, coming to Philadelphia I thought there was a more intense integration and merger in the US according to its long history of immigration and cultural melting pot.      

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I totally agree with Federico when he says that Americans are much more casual than Italians in many different kind of situations, both in their style and way to express themselves but also in making feel people comfortable even in more formal contexts.

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I'm going to talk about my first impressions about Americans. One of the most pleasant aspects of Americans is their welcome, simplicity and ability to not make you feel alien in their country. When I ask for directions, everyone is ready to help me. When I meet someone not only tells me "Hello!", "Hi!" but always add "How are you?" . All time.

American cuisine is very different and based mainly on fast food. There are several fast food chains. This is only partly true, in the United States you can eat really well (not just burgers)! The taste will be different, for example for a salad, they don’t add oil but different kinds of sauces. The most common use is to put as many as possible condiments. Meal times are different. Many university students have dinner at 5 pm. In Italy we usually have dinner at 8 pm. The coffee is a symbol of US citizens as are the burgers. At first I had my difficulties ( I love espresso) aniway In United States found easily even espresso. In fact, the coffee is, as a concept, a completely different drink from our cafe. It is actually a drink to carry around and sip for most of the day, in the car and at work.

Another thing I noticed is that in supermarkets everyone goes away with the cart full. Since the first day I arrived, the owner of house showed me a fridge full of food and I think that she won’t have to go shopping for a long time.

I was impressed when on Friday I went to a concert at the World Cafe Live and although it was midday, it was full of people, of all ages who enjoyed and drank. I went to the bar to ask for coffee and there wasn’t. You could drink beer, whiskey etc but no coffee. It was unusual but fun.

The US is also fascinating for that is broadcast by the TV and especially HollywoodIs the world of cinema different from reality? The answer is no. It 'amazing how the movies faithfully reproduce habits and American life.  

Americans are very attached to their traditions and symbols. It was exciting to hear the American anthem during the basketball game and feel the strong participation of the spectators present. They love so much their country.

I just have to wait and find out more

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I think Stefania is right when she underlines the way Americans have fun, no matter what age you are, you can still dancing in a crazyway during a concert as party animals. I love it! But I think you would hardly ever see it in Italy..

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Americans like Italians have a strong communicative power without speaking; in fact, I don’t often understand them, even if they manage to interact with me. I likegoing around the city, especially by walk, and I often stop and ask questions to people I meet. They have always been helpful to me in any kind of ways,like showing me locations on the map, giving me very good advice about places of interest or good restaurants and some of them have even brought me where I needed to get, as I seemed lost in the city.

A very interesting story, which is worth telling as it was important and meaningful to me, is about an unfortunate event that happened a few days ago: I was walking on the streets and I accidently lost the keys to my apartment. I had been looking for them for two days, and I took this as an opportunity that could have allowed me to interact with many Americans. I asked for them to people in the closest ten blocks around the area and people’s reactions were multiple.

In a cafe, some guys heard what I was telling to the owner and offered to bring me to Penn university police;they showed me the places where, with more probability, I could have found them.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t find my keys; nonetheless,this event has reminded me that some people can show humanity and politeness to an afraid young woman, who happens to live on the other side of the globe as she was some days ago.

After more than ten days that I’m here, people working at the supermarket or in cafés where I usually go are starting recognizing me as a person living in the neighborhood;they often ask me how I am and how my life here is going on. I love this kind of behavior because it makes you feel a part of a community.

I have experienced the life abroad and people there were not so friendly to me, instead I had many difficulties in integrating.

Despite the fact I will probably never be American, these people made me feel at home right away.And I am starting to think at this place as a second home, 7000 kilometers far from the one I recently left.

I want to quote Hillary Clinton’s slogan: "the world is a village".

Or as Italian said: “the world is the same wherever you go”.

65

-“How are you?”

-“Mm mm”

 

“How are you?” is one of the most common phrases used to start a conversation or to have a nice first contact with a new person. The answer could change according to different people. True or not, short or long, the answer is always an expression of a state of mind.

But for one time, I want to focus on the question and not on the answer. 

Personally, this simple question can really show some deep differences between cultures, and in this specific case, some observations about Americans and our different way to connect to each other.

“How are you?” is an expression used very often in the US but even if Americans ask you every time “How are you?” they don’t really pay attention to your answer. It’s only a way to be polite with strangers. The impression is that they use this expression to protect themselves from someone that they don’t know or they actually don’t like. 

“Smile (sometimes), be polite and go on” could be the mantra.

The first days in the US, this situation made me confused and not so comfortable. In my culture is not thinkable to ask someone “How are you?” and don’t listen to the answer or, worst, stopping him while he’s replying. The first time that this thing happened was when I arrived to Philadelphia airport. The policeman asked me “How are you?”, I started to replay but he stopped me, so I though that  was a routine in that specific context. The day after, it happened again and again so I realized that it was a normal way to approach people.

Another situation, another different answer. Going around Philadelphia, you need to ask some information for moving easily. Every time, when I say thank you, the answer is: “Mm mm”. The first time I didn’t understand what it meant. Talking to Americans, comparing each other, I understood that it was like “you’re welcome”.

Those expressions or the use of them could create some confusion in a relationship between people from different countries. Connecting to each other could not be easy if you feel that you do not have the same perspective. The best way to understand each other is being emphatic with someone else; however, this could be very difficult if we use our tools and our frames of mind, thinking that it will work also for the others.

It doesn’t happen only between people from different countries but also between people that share same values. Very often, we use our point of view to analyse someone else’s behaviour, but this is not correct. Everyone is a specific world that, during a relationship, keeps in touch with another; therefore we have to be flexible to understand the other.

So: Smile, understand each other and go on! 

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I find it very interesting the reflection made by anna on the question "how are you" and the differences compared to 'Italy.

I think Anna has really understood the purpose of "UX2" because only carefully observing she could think on a small but important detail.

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I think that Anna perfectly described how difficult it can be when someone from a different country or a different culture responds in a way that we weren't expecting. The language barrier is already an high obstacle, but an unexpected answer might make connecting with people even more difficult.

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Since the American continent was discovered, the contrast between Europe and America has always been very deep. In the eighteenth century Edith Wharton would call it the old world against the new one, knowledge against ignorance, tradition against newness. Since then, many are the things that have changed during the centuries and globalisation arrival upset the whole world. From that moment on, European and American culture blended together and got even closer becoming part of a worldwide trade, for instance nowadays it is possible to purchase online anything we want from other countries’ shops, eat at the same chain of fast food, included watching the same tv series. 
Although society and technology brought us to a common western view, each country still have their own identity and culture that will never vanish. Specifically, the Italian culture has ancient origins and many of the habits and common senses are deeply rooted. For this reason, it is easy to notice the similarities, but even more the differences between Americans and Italians. 
After just two weeks in the Us, what I noticed is that most of the people are really willing and friendly, on the other hand, few of them are still very reserved and do not really care that much about who you are or what you are doing. It is noticeable from how people say hello to each other asking in one go “how are you?” even though they are not much interested in knowing the answer. In contrast, if an Italian person would ask you how you are (and people don't usually do that) it really means that he/she is interested in you. Moreover, one thing that really annoys me and that I wasn't expecting is the fact that most of my American flatmates don’t usually say goodbye when they leave the house and do not really say hello when they come in. In Italy doing it is common sense, but this is just how we were taught to behave. However, what I really appreciate, and probably it is the main reason why I am here today is the openness that Americans have, the fact that there is no age limit to have fun in life and also their bias for innovation and technology. 
In conclusion, I am really interested in understanding and learning more about this country, breaking the barriers to prejudice. At the end there is no black and white nor right and wrong, but a variety of different perspectives.

 

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I really liked your post, above all when you speak about to say goodbye and hello. It's the same impression I had in my house! It's funny how, with the same Italian background, we notice the same thing! :) 

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I'm glad not to be the only one to have noticed it! XD 

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Listening, pay attention and connecting to Americans

 

 

In all the travels of my life, I have always wanted to get deeply connect to the culture of the country I was visiting.

I am a very curious person and I love to talk with people.

 

For these reasons, here in Philadelphia, I am trying to connect to American Culture by listening and talking to the people I meet.

 

The first place where I had this chance, was during my travels with Uber .
Every time I got on a machine I tried to open a conversation with the driver and to observe him\her.
I find it very difficult to make a general point, because -obviously- each person is very different from the others.
I had the pleasure of speaking with many black drivers and in general I have noticed how many of them are moaning about racism : speaking mainly of the difficulty for a black person to ascend to high levels in this society.
I do not know how true this is, but I certainly have noticed how this subject is important to the people and how the division between whites and blacks is still a very open wound in the United States.
 
On the contrary, when I went to China town this Friday night for the Chinese new year eve, I have observed people of all nationalities partecipating at this event.
Many of these people were taking care of organizing the ceremony.
This has made me realize how the United States are a country open and interested in multiculturalism, much of Italy…..
too often in Italy our history and our traditions are so strong and close our minds to other cultures and habits.
Another characteristic aspect of American life that I have observed is the college life and the way in which young people live these years.
I found it very interesting as this period is very important for Americans :
"during college everything is permitted"… I heard.   
 
The University becomes their home where sports, where to study and where to make new friends...while in Italy many times the university is limited to being just a place to study.
 
In general, I have observed the Americans and saw a population with enormous diversity but at the same time linked by a strong patriotic spirit.

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I'm according with the Gianmarco's point of view. Especially when he said that United States of America include an enormous human's diversity. Theyare a coutry of immigrant so they, compared with Italy, cover a multitude of traditions. I think that this is their treasure. Americans, olso, have a patriotic spirit that we should learn by them!

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I totally agree with Gianmarco's post. I find it really interesting and truthful. 

The patriotic spirit of American people is the most important thing that is able to connect an huge and heterogeneous country like USA. About this, the european culture should learn from them!

 

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i agree with you.... America is a multicultural country and i like it. The black people said you about racism. Untill now i m not agree with them... i couldn't see racism here. But i ll talk more with black people to understand their thought... 

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In these two weeks in Philadelphia I’ve noticed that there are a lot of cultural differences between Italian and American people, regarding a lot of different fields: food, street names, sport, social costumes and habits. What I noticed most about their behavior is that they generally have good manners and that they tend to ask often, for courteousness, “how are you” or “how is it going”. This happened to me a lot, in different occasions, mostly in shops and in Uberpool, and asking this, often, is not only the rider (who tends to be  always very polite because of the rating), but also the other person who is sharing the ride. Another thing that I noticed is that people here is really helpful, and when you try to ask for directions for example they try to help you with a lot of care. Something that I didn’t expect is that when somebody wants to pass near you, for example in the supermarket: they always say things like “sorry” or “excuse me”. A the beginning, it seemed strange to me because I thought it was a way of telling me to move and let them pass, but it also happened when they had plenty of space to pass, then I realized that it was more a form of courtesy to warn you that they are passing and that they could bump into you. In Italy, this doesn’t happen, and sometimes it occurs that people even bang into others without apologizing. I also noticed that for some stuff American people have a different concept of cleanliness: for example, in Italy, when you go to a restaurant cutlery is always on a napkin, here instead cutlery is on the table (at least, this happened to me in three different restaurants). Last but not least, I had the impression that American people is less shy than us, especially with tourists. 

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As the time passes I notice some details of the surrounding environment and the way to behave of people living here. 

I noticed that, when you enter in a shop, the salesperson and the cashier but also my roommates, usually tell me: “Hello, how are you?” so I concluded that this is a figure of speech and now I’m trying to say it to the others.

Before my arrival I was very scared by the different language and I was wondering how I would have communicated with people, when I got here, instead, I saw that people are very patient they listen to me and repeat when I ask to them, and they often tell me: “ You speak English better than I speak Italian”, so now I’m no longer worried about it. Sometimes I also met people who are not so friendly and were annoyed with me, but It was not so frequent. 

Americans give great importance to punctuality, they arrive before the given time and they use that space to take a coffee, or set their place, I’m trying to do the same thing. Also in Italy we have to respect the punctuality, but the time and the schedule are not so strict.

Another detail, which I observed, is that people respect the line, in the supermarket, to get on the bus and so on, and of course I respect the line, too.

 If you are polite the others are always favorably disposed to help you.

I noticed that people say hello to the driver of the bus and frequently chat with him, now when I get on or get off the bus I do the same.

 Another thing is that the American professors are less formal than the Italians one, they said that they teach something to us but students can also teach something to them, they want to create a more friendly mood in class, in Italy professors (most of all) care about the form, they prefer to use our surname and we can’t call them by their first name, also the lessons are different and a bit less interactive. I’m trying to adapt to this new form of relationship and to be less formal.

Finally, I noticed that they like the excess, for example I saw an NBA match and when the players entered in the court some installation on the side shot fire, or they shot t-shirt through cannons and all the match was not only a sport match but also a show. In Italy, in my opinion, we are used to have more simple social event.

However, I want to do my best to understand and become familiar with american people!

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As Veronica mentioned in her assignment, I noticed the same formal way to ask people in a shop if they need any helps. I believe it is a different approach to customers and maybe it would be appreciating by Italian people, especially when they have no idea of what they are going to buy!

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I'm agree with Veronica, Americans are punctual and don't tolerate delays and then I noticed the same thing: the American teachers are less formal: for example last Friday our teacher invited us to a concert and before the show, we met with him. In Italy it's almost impossible

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During these days I have observed the lifestyle of americans, their habits and ways of doing. There are many differencies beetween our cultures and both contain positive and negative aspects.

As I told in the previus assignment is that americans, at least the people of philadelphia, are friendly. For example I noticed that they  have  the habit to greet and ask “how are you?” whenever you enter in a store or a public place. Also when the people get off the bus they greet the driver, a particular that never occurs in italy. On the other hand they spend less time than italians talking to others. I've never seen anyone stop at the grocery store to talk to the cashier, someone talking to the uber’s driver or during the workout at the gym. Moreover there is a lack of gallantry, there isn’t the habit to keep the door open to a girl but they apologize whenever they pass in front of you in the supermarket. I think it is a contradiction.

Another feature that I have noticed is the calm of the pople of philadelphia. In the traffic, in Italy, exspecially in Rome, people scream and insult each other very often, they do it so much that I think that driving the car is a way to vent their anxieties. This doesn't happen in Philadelphia even though there is much more traffic, and also when there are long lines to be respected, as in the stores, everybody is quiet. a Few nights ago, whatching a match at the stadium, I was amazed that the supporters of opposite teams were sitting togheter without commplications. This doesn't mean that the americans don’t like to make noise. In fact I got to watch a striking spectacle, nearly exaggerated! This can be considered another demonstration of excesses..

Talking with some guys at the gym I noticed that they  easily take food supplements, chemical substancies and steroyds to achieve better results but they absolutey don’t smoke cigarettes… cigarettes are bad…

I could talk about another thousands of excesses that I have seen. For many aspects americans have good habits for others they have not. But I think that there are many excesses in american culture.

I think that for me and for all who come from a different culture is important to get used with the american culture, because  getting in touch with a new culture is a great opportunity to improve yourself.

As far as I’m concerned I’m trying to meet as many people as possible, curious of their habits and ready to learn.

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Only 11 days have passed since I was arrived in the USA, so I can't say that I really know Americans and their culture, but there are some observations I can do and that have emerged since immediately.

First of all, what has mostly caught my attention, was the kindness of Americans. I can explain it with one episode that happened the first day that I went to the University. I was walking down the street with my friend, and we were very confused on the correct direction to reach the campus, when an old man who was seeing the scene, came by to help us. He pointed out us the street for the university and wished us a good day with a big smile in his face. This episode impressed me particularly because although Italians are friendly people, they are perpetually assembled on their own daily routine that in Italy it’s not very easy to meet a person who is ready to help you spontaneously.

I have noticed that this politeness characterizes not only the most elderly people, but also young people. Living in Philadelphia with two American students, make me easily discover their habits and their attitudes. Despite their kindness, they are very reserved and quiet people. They are open on dialogue but they don’t like very much to share spaces, conversations and opinions. About this we are very different from them, because Italian people love to speak a lot, share experiences and obviously have dinner and party all together. I tried to establish a relationship of friendship inside the house but they seemed to be rather closed in their worlds.

Another typical American characteristic is the pride they have for their nation. This element apparently emerges in most aspects of their culture, not only in their history and in their monuments. For example, when I was in New York, I saw a lot of advertising which said “God bless Americans”. This thing caught my attention because it was just like I had always imagined seeing movies and tv series about Usa. It seems like they love to show their pride and their support for the country. Another example of this exaltation is when I went to Wells Fargo Center to watch the basket match between Sixers and Clippers. It was very interesting to see how American people supported their team and on the contrary how much they discorauged the opposite team. The passion for sports and the pride for their own cities is something that Italy and Usa have in common, but I think that Italians show that pride in a different way, less scenic and observable.

In conclusion, right now I can say that I don’t know very well yet American culture but I’m fascinating and very curious about it. Travel for me means having a connection with nature and cities and also building relationships with people, so my purpose for these three months is to meet a lot of people to prove that all this impressions I had about Americans are real as they seem and to learn and take inspiration from the best.

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I agree with Eleonora, the Americans are very kind but they also are reserved, I saw the same thing with my roommates, sometimes they love to talk or go out with me but for the most part of the time they prefer to stay alone and watch tv. In my opinion, and as Eleonora wrote, the Italians people are different, they prefer to stay all togheter and chat!

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Passed only a few days since I moved here, but they are enough to allow the great difference between the American and European culture. 

The thing that most impressed me of the American way of life is the excess.

From food to nightlife, from multiculturalism to the huge love of their country. On one side the skyscrapers symbol of the “American dream” come true, on the other the poverty and decay of the suburbs of the city.

The distinctive feature of Americans is infact their pronounced patriotism. That's incredible, but the American flag is pretty ubiquitous! Town squares are full of statues and monuments dedicated to historical figures or celebrities and cities are full of gift shop.

But that's not all.

During these days, all people I met (in a pub, supermarket or in the city centre) was very kind and all of them made himself avaible for help me pretty much everything.

For example, going around the city, using public transport, was not easy, but i have always found someone mean  to give me street directions.

I don’t like to generalize, but certainly the first impression of Americans is of a people sociable and friendly.

Even if The USA is traditionally called a melting pot  because with time, generations of immigrants have melted together: they have abandoned their cultures to become totally assimilated into American society, my actually experience leads me to describe american people as smart  and pratical people. They don’t seem people who judge at the first sight as often it happens in the European culture (particularly Italian).

For a person like me who sees this experience as a unique opportunity to learn about a culture quite different to mine, and improve my English, get involved with that kind of people was immediately a great cop.

I had proof of this on Thursday, when walking through the streets of the center I attended a protest march against the new president Donald Trump who was holding a meeting of Republican representatives in the city.

I had a conversation with an elderly woman worried about reforms in the area of health care implemented by the new president. She was also really interisting about the Italian medical system.

The protest was peaceful and really well-organised. All people who has taken part in this demonstration was swinging sings and screaming. It was an opportunity for me to get in touch with american people, know their needs, and their expectations about the future.

It was an unique experience to put myself completely in American culture!

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The americans and the american dream....a lot of expectations, a lot of questions about, a lot of curisity!

Is like going to another world and not another continent. So, let's start to talk now about how i saw the americans.

Kindley peoples, very open minded and friendless. Is not difficult to found someone who can help you if you are lost, or if you search something in particular.

I would like to recount my experience of the first day here in America. It was me and other 4 peoples wich are came together with me,we rent a house on b&b and happy for this experince we go "home"

At the arriving , a big surprise fors us, the house was different not like in the foto's so, for a moment PANIC!The owner was verry nice but the situation out of controll. We left our things and go out to found a place for buy the sheets for the bed. Arrived at the supermarket closer to our house we ask there information about. The woment who worked here give us the indications to arrived,, but you cand immagine how is in a new town at 7pm . So, this women, so that we are in difficult, takes her car and go with us at the supermarket.

I think that i'll never forgot this gesture. She help us without knowing why we are here, and who we are .

I don't know yet at the university , the americand students how they are but i'm very curious.

I thing also that the americans are different  if you change the city. At New York for example there are not so open minded as in phill. Many times if you ask something they change the street and don’t want to answer to you.

In the closed places as supermarkets , restaurant , stations the courteousness is the perfect caracteristic.

The impact with italian people is always the same.”oh, italy, so nice!”

“oh, italy, i love pizza and pasta”

“oh, italy, wonderfull, i have parent’s there”

“oh, italy i’d like to go there”

Like for italian America is a dream, also for Americans Italy is a dream.

We are all peoples, with different cultures but at the end we are all the same .

Americans are nice for us,  italians are nice for the americans.

I hope to discover the american culture and the american peoples more and more during this experince in this 3 months here. 

The americans and the american dream....a lot of expectations, a lot of questions about, a lot of curisity!

Is like going to another world and not another continent. So, let's start to talk now about how i saw the americans.

Kindley peoples, very open minded and friendless. Is not difficult to found someone who can help you if you are lost, or if you search something in particular.

I would like to recount my experience of the first day here in America. It was me and other 4 peoples wich are came together with me,we rent a house on b&b and happy for this experince we go "home"

At the arriving , a big surprise fors us, the house was different not like in the foto's so, for a moment PANIC!The owner was verry nice but the situation out of controll. We left our things and go out to found a place for buy the sheets for the bed. Arrived at the supermarket closer to our house we ask there information about. The woment who worked here give us the indications to arrived,, but you cand immagine how is in a new town at 7pm . So, this women, so that we are in difficult, takes her car and go with us at the supermarket.

I think that i'll never forgot this gesture. She help us without knowing why we are here, and who we are .

I don't know yet at the university , the americand students how they are but i'm very curious.

I thing also that the americans are different  if you change the city. At New York for example there are not so open minded as in phill. Many times if you ask something they change the street and don’t want to answer to you.

In the closed places as supermarkets , restaurant , stations the courteousness is the perfect caracteristic.

The impact with italian people is always the same.”oh, italy, so nice!”

“oh, italy, i love pizza and pasta”

“oh, italy, wonderfull, i have parent’s there”

“oh, italy i’d like to go there”

Like for italian America is a dream, also for Americans Italy is a dream.

We are all peoples, with different cultures but at the end we are all the same .

Americans are nice for us,  italians are nice for the americans.

I hope to discover the american culture and the american peoples more and more during this experince in this 3 months here. 

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These days i observed the different people i met in Philadelphia and i realized that there are barriers that must not be exceeded . People seemed to me very helpful but at the same time reserved.  I took very often Uber, and i noticed that the driver never  forced the conversation by asking questions.

I think there is a deep respect towards the others' space. Cultural differences may make it harder for Americans to connect with us. What is normal in our culture, it can be considered rude or intimidating for Americans. For example, i noticed that most Americans like the "personal space" than many other cultures, and usually keep at least two feet (or .6 meters) of each other while having conversations. If i get too close, i can make people feel uncomfortable. It's in our culture have a physically approaching from the person for establish a more trusting relationship. In America this is unusual, it is not about mistrust, we have simply two different ways of approaching each other. It 'true when they say that the eyes are the mirror of the soul. When we want to enter into relationships with others, we try to have eye contact. Visual communication is one of the more immediate things to connect with others.

My English is not the best and so my verbal communication, this creates a limit in being able to get in touch with people. I noticed that very often, asking for information, not knowing the language well, people are impatient, but there are many ways to overcome the barriers of language! start as opening the conversation with a simple smile for example. One of the easiest ways to get in tune with the people is radiate positive energy. Smiling is simply, and requires very little effort. So when I meet a stranger, i show a smile !! This way not only do I have noticed that people are more prone to have an empathic connection with me, some studies show that smiling actually makes you feel better, so everyone will derive benefit. No matter what language you speak, a smile shows you are friendly and in good spirits, and this is pleasing in the eyes of others. I managed to establish a relationship with the people  with the non-verbal communication, I noticed that a gesture or a smile is much more effective here to get in touch with people.

These days there have been many demonstrations in Philadelphia ,people are keen to tell their point of view, are very sensitive and this has helped me to put myself in touch with the most emotional part of them. Who knows, maybe at the end of this experience i will become one of them :) !!

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In the last two weeks I got the opportunity to discover new places and a new culture.

Sometimes the first impression about something is not right but it is.. in my opinion, necessary to start understanding something in the right way. My first feeling about American people was that they are friendly: nobody refused to talk to me. Rather, they  would help me when my English became a barrier to express my thoughts. A lot of people whom I met are very smart and this sensation is inspired by their way to approach new people. Therefore I think that Americans are very open-minded. Surely this willingness to help foreigners comes from their past:  a lot of people here were foreigners once. The curious thing that I noticed is that lots of people whom I met have got Italian origins: sometimes their surname is the name of a town in Italy or simply they have got grandparents who came here a long time ago.

Another thing that I noted looking  around is that in USA there is a strong contrast between wealth and poverty: one can see a lot of beautiful cars in the streets and, at the same time, a poor man asking for money. There are lots of majestic skyscrapers in the city center that are in contrast with the dirty streets in the suburbs. I think that maybe here there is a lack of equality that makes all this things possible.

A place in which all this contrasts are most evident is Atlantic City, known as “the Las Vegas of the East Coast”. I went there for a weekend and I think that it is a fun place, and everybody should experience it. There are a lot of casinos with many bustles that left me disoriented. But the main thing that impressed me was the amount of money that people invested there in gambling.

Obviously everyone does what he/she wants with the own money, but this underlines the contrast that I mentioned before.

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The United States is sometimes described as a "melting pot" in which different cultures have contributed their own distinct "flavors" to American culture. Just as cultures from around the world have influenced American culture, today American culture influences the world.

Before I arriving in philadelphia, I didn't know any American person. I didn't know much about the American culture. In fact I was very surprised when I started to learn about these people so nice and helpful.

Americans are always friendly and help us with lots of useful information. When we get lost in the streets, they are always ready to explain what the right way.

Even dancing in the disco is different in America, because americans are dancing with everyone and involve you. Even people who do not dance, they start to dance!

Americans offer you a drink even if you do not know you: they do it with a smile.

Most Americans work hard during the week days and look forward to weekends. They plan for weekends in advance. For many, weekends may mean shopping, laundry, TV, movies, going out with friends or relatives, outdoor activities, or watching a game on TV or in a stadium. A New York woman told us that Americans work much and never stop, the weekend is the only time to take care of yourself.

 

In conversation, you should give continuous feedback to the other person, or at least nod continuously. In absence of that, the other person might think you aren't really interested or you're confused. When you meet an American person you always will say "How are you? ".

 

The American clothing styles vary depending on the welfare state, the region, the profession and the climate. Jeans, sneakers, baseball caps, cowboy hats and boots are a few items of clothing that are closely associated with the Americans. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors and Victoria 's Secret are some well-known American brands.

From what I've read about cultural differences, Americans are actually perceived to be unusually friendly. It's truth! A story I heard is that the easiest way to spot the American tourist in a nation like England is to find the stranger who will smile at you. Americans are more likely to smile at, help, or acknowledge the existence of a complete stranger than people in most other cultures. The considerable eye contact and phrases like "Howdy" and "Have a nice day" that pervade the US might seem normal to Americans, but that level of informality is actually common to only a few nations.

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Want to know what I think about Americans and America… my biggest questions and concerns?

Here are some I noticed during these two weeks in Philly.

First of all, american are so NICE!

They are very helpful. Everywhere I went they offered to help me.

In the restaurants the servers are usually very friendly and always will tell you his or her name.

When Americans talk to me they look in the eyes.
The Americans always smile! Most people who are just passing by will smile at you or say hello. I think it is because smiling is simply a goodwill gesture and does not mean anything beyond that. This is a nice fomality.

When I bump into someone or vice versa, I will prontly hear an “excuse me”.

When we use Uber the drivers are gentle and friendly.

But, how slow they drive?

They are gas-guzzlers!

Americans are very punctual. Most people arrive exactly on time or few minutes early for an appointment.
When me and my friends go out to have some fun in disco pub, Americans are very funny.

They are great dancers on the dancefloor. They usually speak to us and have a nice time with the Italian guys.

The dress-sense is very different from typical Italian fashion style. Most people wear casual dress. No one really cares what others are wearing. But I noticed a strange thing: they dress “half-naked”, their clothes are more light than ours. Me and my friend wear heavy coats and big sweaters but the Americans go around the city with shirts and short pants.
US people don’t push or stand too close to anyone in line. They always wait their turn.
The American dinner time is too strange for me. They eat at about 6:30 p.m.
About food… there is garlic everywhere!

Pasta is overcooked. Rice is overcooked. Seriously do they not know how to cook anything “al dente”?

Where I can get regular extra virgin olive oil?

The American roads are so big, the cars are so big.

So, these two weeks were exhausting, fun and entertaining. I learned a lot about American culture that I likely didn’t fully grasp before.. about the distances, the way they speak and dress etc.

I’m going to love USA!

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