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Ten things I’d like to include in my life after living in the US

After almost nine months in “the land of freedom”, I started reflecting on the things I’d like to take back home besides books, technology and clothing (yay!) I came up with a pretty long list of American features I’d like to somewhat include in my life and narrowed it to ten lessons I think are worth to learn.

  • Don’t interrupt. Coming from a Latin culture where we constantly invade others’ personal space and keep touching each other while we talk, it’s quite typical that we also overlap while talking. Although, I must say I sometimes miss our proximity while talking, I also appreciate the way Americans wait until somebody finishes speaking or ask permission before starting to talk. It gives value to what each person says.
  • Be punctual. Oops! My bad! I know Argentines are not famous for our punctuality and here I’ve noticed that people tend to arrive some minutes earlier before something is scheduled, so that it actually starts on time. There is always someone arriving late, though; but it’s not so socially tolerated as at home. So, I hope I can keep on the habit once I come back.
  • Learn names. This is something I actually love. Most people I met here make a great effort not only to say your name correctly, but also to remember it. Any time you meet or are introduced to someone new, they will repeat your name, checking they’re saying it correctly and once you say goodbye, they’ll say it again. If you meet that person again, it’s almost sure that she would greet you and call you by your name.
  • Be a good host. When you’re invited to someone’s place here, it means they really want you there and they show it. Most people go out of their way to please you. Once I was invited to have dinner with a family who lives near my college. After a delicious dinner, we had tea. The next time I had dinner with them, they remembered the kind of tea I liked and that I don’t put any sugar in it. I’m still struggling how to remember names and they know how I like my tea!!!
  • Be seasonal. This observation came out while I was talking to one of my Argentine friends here in the US, Paula. We both arrived here in September and most of the shops soon started getting ready for Thanksgiving, a celebration that’s hold in November, and the fall. As soon as it passed, all the turkeys and dried leaves in the shops turned into Christmas trees and fake snow. Besides, some shops, especially coffee stores, generally offer some distinctive foods or beverages for each season. So, we were both thrilled by the fact that here people make seasons and some dates special. Of course we’re not so naïve as to not realize that there are big companies behind all the merchandise trying to make a profit out of it, but in a way, it feels good to regard some times of the year as single and unique.
  • Show it. I have heard that human beings are becoming more visual and apparently Americans have heard it, too. Staying at different hostels (God bless them! They’re one of the cheapest options when it comes to lodging) I saw plenty of signs with instructions in written and visual language. For example, in one of the kitchens there was a sign over the sink telling you that you were supposed to wash your own dishes. But they don’t use any pictures or any text. Besides reinforcing each other, images and words tend to have a funny relationship. So, that sign instead of telling you “Wash the dishes”, it said “Mom is not here, please clean the kitchen after use” and there was a picture of an angry mother.
  • Know yourself and boast about it. I know this doesn’t sound very nice, but people here know how to market themselves. One day, there was this event for women who were considered leaders in our community. All the women who attended had been nominated by another person who considered they had leading qualities. There were two workshops and a dinner. In the second workshop, we were asked why we considered ourselves leaders. I had no idea what to say. There were approximately forty women in that room and I was the third to say something. I made up some stupid sentence delivered with the slightest amount of confidence. Oh, boy! The other ladies not only replied quickly and confidently, but also almost none repeated an adjective! They knew each of us is unique and were ready to prove it.
  • Look for a different job. Something I’ve noticed here is that the society is very dynamic. People are always moving, going after new opportunities, or looking for an adventure. Probably is that dynamism that makes them always be looking for a new job. Now, I don’t think everybody is looking for a new job, but at least they keep their resumes updated and try to increase their contacts because, “you never know”. I think this is a good lesson because although you may not think of changing your job, it keeps you alert and aware of your career development.
  • If you have a problem, name it. At the beginning, I used to make fun of all the labels they have here to name everything. For example, to delay what you have to do is to “procrastinate”, or to be a bad father or mother is called “bad parenting”. However, I realized that by naming a problem, it is easier to find the solution. Once you acknowledge you have a problem and you are able to name it properly, you’ll know who your enemy is and will try to fight it with the proper weapons.
  • Be positive. Yeah, I know it’s a tough world and things are not easy, but would we make them any better by thinking this is an awful world and everybody is against me? I do really embrace the American optimism that sometimes may look naïve, but after all, they are one of the most powerful countries in the world, huh? Actually, I don’t feel they hold the kind optimism that blinds you in front of problems, but the kind that lets you see the problem and makes you believe that you can resolve it. I don’t know what you think, but it works for me.

So, these are some of the things I’d like to include in my life to some extent. What do you think? Would you like to include any of them in yours? Have you ever lived in another country and would like to share what your learnt? What things do you think someone would like to learn from Argentina? I’d love to listen from you!

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