Explaining America to Family and Friends

17 Jul 2017 Karina S. Henkel

It’s impossible. There are so many pictures, prejudices, and information (false and correct) floating around that there is no way that I could ever explain what and how America is. And for some people it is also hard to grasp how different America and the Americans are depending on the region and their cultural descent. Honestly, I have a hard time with that, too. I have only lived in Maine and traveled mainly in New England and Canada. Who am I to tell people what America is? America truly taught me not to generalize and to be careful with calling something “American” or “Un-American”.

All I can give is a general impression of observations that I have found everywhere to be true where I have been. The friendliness and very helpful nature of Americans is something that I have found wherever I have been. There are, of course, also unfriendly Americans, but the majority seems to be very open and forthcoming.

So far I have not met a single American who was not in awe ofh a foreigner’s English language skills – any English language skills. They all are full of admiration when people speak two or more languages. All you need to say is “Hello, how are you doing” and every American will give you so much praise that you will leave the conversation with a big head.

Nobody can judge the typical American just by following the media. News stories cover some facts, but don’t capture the multifaceted American nature and culture. Just because you hear a lot about the American president Donald Trump does not mean that he stands for what all Americans think or do. I know and you know that and I am probably preaching to the choir. But I have to remind myself once in a while about these facts, too. Sometimes I catch myself generalizing and have to remind myself about what I really know about America: not much.

But I like it.