I’ve been in the US for business lately, namely in the Boston area. It’s always interesting going to other countries, and being surprised by the little things that no one thinks to mention before you go. Has this happened to you too? What kind of things did you notice?
Here are some of mine from Massachusetts:
- Why are the toilets so full of water? It can’t possibly be convenient, rather the opposite. Things splashing and floating…
- Speaking about water, the tap water smelled like a swimming pool from all the chloride inside, but no one seemed to drink it anyway, so I guess it didn’t matter…
- There’s so much heavy food! I took to avoiding anything that said “butter” or “cream” after getting some really heavy dishes in a few places. My stomach just isn’t used to this kind of fat food. I also have yet to find a restaurant that actually served pasta “al dente.”
- Upside on the food front, I ate so much great shellfish! Lobster! Clam Chowder! Shrimps! Yum, yum, yum!
- Tips. Argh! My archenemy. I’ m convinced I’m forever giving the wrong amount–too little to some, too much to others, though probably more of the letter because I’m always worrying about giving too little. I hope it evens out in some way or another! Of course, trying to ask my US colleagues what was appropriate, I got all sorts of contradictory information…
- Air conditioning. The hotels often seem to weirdly have one unit per room instead of a central system. And they’re often extremely noisy! How anyone can sleep with them on is beyond me, but maybe you get used to it after a while. I just turned mine off at night, which worked well considering the season.
- TV-commercials. I noticed a couple of things. One, they come on about every other minute, or so it feels like. And two, they sometimes bash their competitors! Explicitly!
- On the TV front, I was also impressed with how virtually everything had closed captions–very useful when jet-lagged and watching TV at odd hours and trying not to disturb the neighbors.
- Finally, cars. I’ve noticed this before, of course, but I noticed it again now. Unless you’re downtown or something, this is not a place for pedestrians. Even if wherever you’re going is 500 meters away, chances are there’s a road in between, and there’ll be no way to cross it short of throwing yourself defiantly in front of the cars. (One colleague of mind tried that, and managed to live to tell the tale! Needless to say, I did not. Try it, that is. ;-))
That’s all I can think of at the moment–soon time to head back home and get jet-lagged again in the opposite direction. Still, all in all it’s been a very fruitful trip, business-wise, but also full of nifty details I picked up in case I’ll ever place a novel here. 🙂
What kind of things surprise you when going abroad?