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- Cultural Adjustments Back in the USA
I remember years ago when I visited Guatemala for just a few months.
Well, after my trip was over, I was heading back home to my small town in the US….
And noticed something weird about the news…
It was a hell of a lot more dramatic than the shit you see in Guatemala.
In some ways that was the case and less so in other cases.
Something we will get to more below…
Either way, that’s the topic of this article – mentioning just some of the things that come to mind that stick out to me anytime I visit the US again after some time away in Latin America.
So let’s begin!
There’s at least three differences in news between Latin America more generally speaking the US.
First, it seems to me a lot of news companies down here in Latin America basically just copy the stories and put them into Spanish from those in the US.
With some local stories mixed in as well obviously.
Not all do obviously but that’s one thing I’ve noticed about quite a few down here.
Just seems like investigative journalism is a bit more developed in the US.
Second, the news in Latin America seems more open to showing more graphic images of dead people killed by whoever or whatever accident.
Third, the news in the US is much more sensationalist in my opinion.
Or at least better at being sensationalist.
When you turn on CNN for example and see all the graphics and production value that goes into everything compared to the production value of what local news stations produce down here.
I remember when I came back from Guatemala years ago…
Just after two months, that stuck out to me when back in the US.
How watching CNN felt like I was watching some action movie or some crazy shit.
First, the food in the US is much less healthy than the food you generally find in Latin America.
Or at least seems to be the case for me.
Since every time I go back to the US for 2 months, I always gain 5 pounds or so.
And then when I return to Latin America?
I lose that extra weight easily!
Without even trying.
On the flip side, food in the US is much tastier than any food I have encountered south of the border.
Without question – it always tastes better up there.
But it comes with the downside of being less healthy so there’s that.
Not Looking Over Your Shoulder
One night I was walking with a chick I was on a few dates with back year ago around Ohio area…
This was right after I returned from my 7 months in Colombia and a full year in South America in general.
Well, as we were walking, I was always looking over my shoulder every so often.
Not because I felt we were being stalked or in danger.
I felt fine in that moment – but was just a habit I developed to always check my surroundings and all that.
Well, the chick named Chloe made a joke about it – “you acting like we about to get mugged.”
It was all in good humor but I guess I realized then that she was right.
Similarly, about a month or two after that…
I was walking by a park in Ohio when I noticed two young woman sitting on the ground with their laptops out on the ground.
With nice phones on the ground and everything.
The firs thought in my mind?
“How easy it would be for someone to pull a gun and rob them.”
For real, in the Colombian city I was at (Barranquilla), you wouldn’t just take two laptops and a bunch of nice phones and lay them on a ground in some random park.
The only place I saw someone with a laptop in Barranquilla was in certain areas of the city that were private and had security.
Always places where wealthier Colombians were and could feel safe having their electronics out like that.
Now, not all of Latin America is so unsafe where you can’t have laptops and phones out.
In Mexico City, it’s a bit safer or feels that anyway.
Same with Buenos Aires and plenty of other places.
But either way, I guess it took me back for a second to see a few young chicks just leaving their laptops laying around and not even paying much attention to them as they were doing other things.
So that’s one difference anyway.
More Race Focused (or Obsessed?)
Another difference you notice is that people in the US seem a hell of a lot more race focused.
Or obsessed really.
Just about everything seems to have some racial component to the conversation – even when race has nothing to do with the topic!
Well, not literally everything but you know what I mean.
And in particular, racial politics in the US seem very strange and toxic in general.
Where race discussions seem to have a very strong relation to the politics of who is speaking…
And also people seem so obsessed with it and also very hostile to anyone with a different opinion.
Either way, more on my thoughts on the topic can be found here.
Everything So Political
Similar to race, everything seems much more politicized in the US.
Granted, you have people obsessed with politics down here as well.
However, just in my experience, it seems people in the US are much more likely to get angry if you disagree with them on something political – even if it’s a minor disagreement.
And will literally unfriend people because they disagree on something!
Someone like that literally couldn’t be more retarded.
And it’s not just the anger but also the need people have to bring politics into everything.
In the US, when I go on a date with a chick, I’d say there’s a 20% to 25% chance she is going to bring politics up somehow.
In Latin America?
I can only think of one chick who ever brought up politics up to me and you can read about her here.
In my 5 years with the endless amounts of chicks I have gone on dates with, it basically never happens.
So take that for what you will – people just seem more obsessed with politics up there.
Much Greener & Cleaner
Leaving the Columbus Airport in Ohio years ago…
I got into a taxi and was headed to some hotel.
And as the taxi was driving around, I noticed how green and clean everything looked!
So many trees – everything in the city looked so nice and fresh!
Compared to Latin America…
Which many of the cities down here are not necessarily as green looking – some are, many aren’t.
And definitely a lot less clean.
Even leaving Chicago Airport one time – which I know Chicago gets a bad reputation but still…
Even that area looked nice compared to how dirty everything is down here.
Years ago, I went on a date with a Mexican chick – forgot her name but let’s call her Alejandra.
Well, Alejandra had spent time in California for about a year and I asked her what she liked most about the US.
“How clean everything is” was her answer.
I’d agree – that is nice.
Small Towns Don’t Look Like Hell Holes?
To be fair, not all small towns in Latin America look like hell holes.
Or shit holes?
But some countries down here have it really bad like Bolivia.
And most small towns down here in Latin America – outside Bolivia as well – just don’t look as nice or developed as what you see in the US.
Granted, there are shit hole towns in the US as well – so we ain’t above that either.
But in most of Latin America, the average small town you find is just not good enough for me to live in.
But in the US, I could easily find plenty of small towns that I would be happy in.
In Latin America, I’d only really consider the most developed countries for finding a small town to live in…
Like Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, maybe Southern Brazil…
You get the idea.
Perceptions of Danger
This could almost be mixed in with the previous point about danger but I felt it could be made into its own point.
You know, growing up in a small town in the US.
We have crime like everywhere else.
And I remember always how the local folks there, such as my sister, will always say…
“Oh my, just look how dangerous our small town is!”
And, to be honest, the supposed danger of our small town never really worried me growing up before I left to Latin America.
And now after I have been 5 years down here?
My thoughts are anyone who says my small town is dangerous is a fucking pussy.
And it’s the fucking truth – what danger are people talking about?
“Well, Matt, just yesterday, someone got shot.”
Who gives a fuck?
“The day before, a random woman was stabbed 50 times.”
Sucks to be her, I guess.
It just isn’t that dangerous over there.
But that’s another point in of itself in things I notice to be different when coming back home.
While, on one hand, people in the US seem to be maybe more naïve in terms of their belongings and not watching over them carefully.
It can also be said that people’s perception of what is dangerous seems a bit out of whack to me.
Or maybe it’s me – maybe enough time down here has made me more used to stupid shit happening and just having a higher standard for what is dangerous.
Well, you can be the judge on that and I wouldn’t argue against that.
Better Customer Service
Generally speaking, customer service seems much better in the US than in Latin America.
More professional and reliable in terms of not fucking up what I ordered.
And does a good job at pretending to care about my requests.
In Latin America, if a business fucks something up, I have a 50% expectation that they are going to do jack shit about it.
And maybe that’s a bit optimistic….
People More Stressed by Time
It’s a bit funny when people say they enjoy their vacation in Mexico or whatever part of Latin America…
“Oh it was so nice to leave the office and not have to work or commute or worry about anything…”
“And I love Mexico! Everything seems so relaxed and at a nicer pace down here!”
Truth is, all of that might seem nice when you have been working for 10 fucking years or more to finally get some vacation time to visit Mexico.
With the commute, waking up at 7 AM or so and being all around more stressed by time.
To have that nice contrast for a week or less where you can finally relax…
It’s not so nice however when you actually fucking live down here.
And you need people to get shit done that has nothing to do with sipping margaritas on the beach.
Because you probably won’t be doing that every day living down here.
But instead, you need to open a bank account or some shit and nothing fucking works.
And the reason for that, or one of them anyway, is because people are so slow to getting shit done.
What takes an American worker to get something done for you in an hour takes a Mexican, Colombian, Dominican or whoever about a fucking day.
Of course, that’s a generalization but there is an element of truth in that statement when you live down here.
So to summarize…
Of course, it goes both ways.
I had a Mexican neighbor a year or two ago who spent time in Phoenix, Arizona.
He told me one thing he hated about the US was how people seemed so stressed about the time.
In his mind, he couldn’t understand the simple concept that a “meeting at 5 PM means a fucking meeting at 5 PM.”
No, no, Mexicano, not 5 fucking 20 PM.
Not 5 fucking 50 PM.
Not god damn 8 PM….
It fucking means 5 PM, god damn it!!!!
Of course, there’s the American in me coming out in my writing right now.
As you can see how stressed I get thinking about all the god damn idiots down here who don’t understand 5 PM is 5 PM.
Of course, in response, the said local might way “tranquilo wey, tranquilo” and think there is nothing wrong with showing up at 5:05 let’s say.
Which, in the grand scheme of things, there isn’t.
But it does become an issue when most people behave like that…
And the 5:05 is actually 5:50 or whatever…
So to summarize…
Sometimes tourists who show up on vacation don’t understand how annoying this difference can be when you are not on vacation and are actually living down here.
And second, Americans, such as myself, can be much more stressed about time than people in Latin America.
Generally speaking, people in the US seem fatter than most Latinos I have met.
Of course, this also means the average chick in the US is fatter and not as attractive either.
But it also depends on the country you are comparing the US to.
As not all of Latin America is the same.
In Mexico, obesity is right up there with the US.
And there’s obesity in other Latin countries as well obviously.
But either way, this point stands.
More Diversity of Women
One thing I like about American women or dating in the US is that it feels more like a buffet to me than in Latin America.
Now in Latin America as a whole, you got plenty of diversity of course.
And even locally in the countries.
But it doesn’t compare to the US.
In the US, you have more general diversity in terms of race of women from what I have seen.
Or better said, it is easier to find and date a black, Asian, white and brown chick all in one month.
Versus say Mexico where you will mostly see brown and white chicks but not nearly as much Asian or black ones.
In the DR? More black and brown. Not as many white or Asian.
How about Argentina? A lot whiter and a lot less brown, black or Asian chicks.
Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala? Much more indigenous by far.
Even though you do have some white and black chicks in those 3 countries, you just don’t find them as easily.
In a few months in Bolivia, I think I saw 2 local white chicks and that was it.
On top of that, the US has more diversity in nationality.
We simply have more foreign people visiting our country – so more foreign chicks from wherever to fuck.
Japan, Mexico, China, Russia, Argentina, South Africa, etc, etc, etc…
So in terms of race and nationality – yeah, it’s like a buffet for the single guy.
Speaking English Again
This is a minor difference in what I’m about to say…
But when you have lived for a year or two straight in Latin America let’s say…
Then come back to the US…
In the first month or two, you might notice catching yourself almost responding in Spanish to someone when they say something to you in English.
I don’t think I ever actually accidently said something in Spanish but I’ve caught myself almost doing it.
Mostly because I tend to speak before I think sometimes and just say what comes to mind first.
And rarely, sometimes that means a Spanish word or two leapfrogging in front of my English and almost saying it.
Cost of Everything
It always is interesting to me to hear how expensive the US is.
I got a friend in San Francisco – notably more expensive than most areas of the US – paying like 2,300 or something for a shitty ass place that isn’t even good.
Where most folks in the cities in general – if I had to guess – are like paying maybe 1,000 to 1,500 in rent every month?
That number might be too optimistic but I’m not sure – haven’t had a place of my own up there in a while now.
But it’s funny because I’ve lived down here as cheaply as 300 bucks a month for all of my living expenses and did alright.
To now spending about 700 more or less for all of my living expenses and doing great.
Same thing with medical care – just insane compared to what I have paid down here on a rare visit to the hospital.
And I could go on and on – education for your future kids, cost of whatever else, etc…
You get the idea.
And generally speaking, because of the low cost of living down here…
It is so much easier to not have to work hard to get by in Latin America.
Well, assuming you got some income rolling in and established obviously…
Otherwise you might be working many long hours to get something established for yourself.
But assuming that is done, then life can be very easy down here.
Needing a Damn Vehicle
Another minor and irritating difference about the US is always needing a damn vehicle to get anywhere.
It’s a minor annoyance to be sure but always notable when I am at a hotel for a night in the US in Miami or Chicago or Indianapolis or wherever..
And I want to get a bite to eat but the outside isn’t as friendly to people who want to walk around to get a bite.
Granted, Latin America isn’t perfect to pedestrians either.
While Latin America is generally speaking easier to walk around (though not all cities are to be fair)…
You also have more vehicles doing their best to try and run over pedestrians like they get a paycheck or something for every random person they run over.
Funny enough, I remember when I was living in Pachuca, Mexico…
I was walking with my landlord and some other folks…
When crossing a very normal street with no heavy traffic – just a street with a bunch of homes…
This lady in a white SUV literally was speeding up and it looked like she was trying to run us over.
“Shit, the Latina Karen is tryin to kill us!”
We got out of the way and my landlord yelled at the lady in Spanish “what the fuck is wrong with you?!?”
So it’s a mixed bag with this one.
On one hand, it’s easier to get around without a car in Latin America but it is also easier to get run over.
But if you do get run over, you can always crawl to your destination with broken legs.
That ain’t no problem.
More Modern in General
Generally speaking, the US looks a lot more modern than most places in Latin America.
Just a lot more developed when it comes to the streets and the city infrastructure.
In small towns as well as I said before.
A nice difference.
People sometimes say that Latinos are warmer and gringos are colder in comparison.
Latinos being more personal and friendly while gringos less so.
Is that true?
As a cultural difference, I never noticed it.
But you can learn more about my opinion on the topic here.
Easier to Connect with Folks
Generally speaking, it is easier to connect with folks from the US than Latin America.
Canada as well since Canadians will come across like Americans to me (though they might not like that statement but it’s true!).
Either way, because of the similar language and cultural aspect, it feels easier to connect with folks back home.
You never forget your roots.
Where to Throw Toilet Paper
Another difference when coming home to the US…
Is not having to throw toilet paper in the trash can.
Granted, you can do that also in some parts of Latin America that are more developed.
In Buenos Aires, I always threw it in the toilet.
In Pachuca, I had a very nice apartment where I could as well.
But in most of the places I’ve been to in Mexico? Nope.
And in most of Latin America, was not possible to throw it in the toilet.
So when you are back home, you might accidently throw it in the trash can on the first day back home if you have been gone for a while.
Obviously, the music is different.
A lot less reggaeton.
No salsa, vallenato, cumbia, etc…
And no fucking banda.
Just typical hip hop shit, class rock, country and whatever else you hear on the radio…
Not saying either type of music is better…
Though banda does suck.
I like reggaeton, salsa…
And I like hip hop, rock, etc..
So it’s just a difference is all.
Any Thing Else?
If you think I missed anything in difference between life in the US and Latin America…
In terms of some cultural (and I suppose non-cultural) adjustments…
Then drop them below in the comment section.
I’m sure there are more – these are just a few that I have thought of on top of my head.
This article is long enough as it is…
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