By Snezana Stojilkovic; Chicago, Illinois
I use public transportation almost every day, and I was surprised by the fact that Americans rarely give up their seats for older people. We were taught that we are supposed to threat elderly with respect: whenever you are in the bus and see an older gentleman or lady your obligation is to offer them a seat. That’s the rule also if you see a young mom with kids, or a pregnant lady with visible belly. Here sometimes I have feeling that people in the train are completely oblivious to their surroundings, deep in their thoughts or just staring in their iPhones. That’s what happened the other day in the train. One young girl literally had to yell at people: “Hey, don’t you see a pregnant lady here?” until some guy stood up. Then she said her friend loud enough so we could hear that it was her second time that day she had to react.
Strong sense of community
I witnessed so many times when people approach police officers and thanking them for all work they do and all risk they take every day in order to protect citizens.
Honestly, I cannot imagine that picture in my county. Serbs really don’t like the police since it is widely accepted that that is one of the most corrupted part of the system, and people do not put a lot of trust in police officers.
I also saw couple of times in restaurants that some people would pay for the meal when they see people in uniform. Bravo, Chicagoans!
Wedding is an event that has to be planned well ahead! Plus, as a guest you might have to pay for your drink(s)
When friend of mine told me last year that she was invited to a wedding and she was super exited because it was an open bar I didn’t understand what she meant. I mean, I knew the meaning of “open bar” policy, but the wedding and this term in the same sentence was confusing. Then, she explained to me that the couple who was getting married (or their parents) were responsible for paying drinks for their guests. I was surprised. Does that mean that sometimes you have to pay for it when you go to the wedding? She smiled and said yes, that’s very common in the USA.
Since I am writing about weddings, I must say that this is such a big thing in the USA, so big that many people want to avoid stress that comes with amazing an event to hire professional help: wedding consultant. Not only that, browse the internet, you will find many websites created to help couples to find what they need for the most important day of their life, everything from florist, music, photographers, dresses, etc. According to the www.enlightenme.com the wedding planning industry is a huge business with an estimated $42 billion (yes, billion) in sales of wedding relating products!
I understand that a wedding IS a big thing for any couple, but I would say that things go easier in my country although it does require time to prepare all details. In small cities people know each other and usually word of mouth is the best way to go: just ask your friends and you would get recommendations for everything you might need! And, your friends will offer their help as well.
Street dogs are nowhere to be seen!
I cannot stress enough how big problem this is my country, in almost every city. There is no enough shelters for street animals, and people can very often encounter group of very dangerous dogs on street in busy neighborhoods. The problem is even bigger in villages. So many hurt and wounded kids, and the authorities do very little (or nothing) to prevent these issues. The local officials know that is going to cost a lot of money in compensations after citizens sue the city, but they would still spend money that way then investing in permanent solutions. Do not think now that organizations for animals are not interested in helping: their voices are heard, but completely ignored. Ordinary citizens are not even allowed to protect themselves, the laws are very strict in case you hurt the animal, witch lead to the very undesirable position.
I have never seen ONE dog walking on the street, not in Chicago, not in other states I visited, unless they are with their owners. And that is the only way it should be.
I hope you enjoyed this mini series of articles where I tried to describe the biggest differences between the USA and my home country Serbia. Of course, there are many more, but I will leave it for now. Maybe a couple more things that I do not have to explain:
- The gas is extremely cheap. That’s why Americans drive big cars.
- The language is very relaxed: addressing older group of people with Hi, folks, guys, people or something similar is unacceptable in my country.
- The lack of geographical knowledge is very often a cause for mocking Americans calling them stupid. They usually divide Europe on East (former Soviet Union countries, where they believe my country belongs) and West (London, Pairs and Italy). Many of them believe Paris is a country! The rest for them is very blur, something over there 🙂
- In my country people that walk a lot always have a bench nearby so they can rest. Here you can find one only in parks, even then the number is not significant.