Friday, June 25, 2010

Americans Come in All Shapes...

I love America's diversity. And I don't just mean Mexicans, Chinese, Irish, Africans, and Vietnamese amid many many immigrant nationalities. I mean, I appreciate how Americans are comfortable just being whoever they are. 

Let me explain.

I recently visited the States- Los Angeles, specifically. When I travel home from abroad, I like to pay attention to my first thoughts being home again. Yes, I'm jet-lagged, dehydrated, smelly, and spacey, but this is also the time I'm most sensitive to America's distinctiveness. If you immerse me for a few more hours, the novelty soon wears off and I don't even notice really interesting anthropological details anymore.

So, what better time and place to witness America's self-expression than fresh out of customs at the baggage claim at LAX? 

Here's a sampling:
a group of body builder women
creatively tattooed and pierced people, one of whom had those earrings that stretch the earlobes way out in a creepy way
women with short short shorts
blended race families
really tall people 
people with ridiculously large suitcases
lots of hugging and loud conversations

Okay, writing this now, I realize there's nothing inherently "American" about the scene. I could probably find the same in any major world capital, but coming from Japan, it absolutely struck me as special and American.
Another thing I realized at LAX is that Americans like chitchat. A lot. Chitchat with strangers. Maybe because in Japan, I'm language impaired, I don't notice spontaneous encounters around me so much. 
But in those few short moments at the baggage claim, three different people engaged me in some kind of casual talk. My favorite was a lady who told me all about her 3 year daughter's teeth-brushing habits.
Coming from abroad, what do you first notice about Americans when you enter the States?  


Becca Runs Sometimes said...

I've only come home from 3 trips abroad, and each time, the first thing I noticed was how rushed and fast everything was here.

Fly Girl said...

That does sound like a quintessentially American scene to me. You might find all those groups in different places but probably not all together in other countries. What I notice when I come back from a trip abroad is how loud and casually dressed Americans are compared to many other countries.

maryandsean said...

Yes,the rushing around! Compared to Japan, the States doesn't seem to move as fast. But I remember feeling that after visiting other countries.

Fly Girl,
I noticed that Americans wear really casual clothing too- especially when they travel. I have noticed people in other countries wearing their absolute finest when they travel on a place.

Kate Henschel said...

The first thing I noticed when stepping off the plane in Chicago O'Hare after a year in Europe was how the whole airport smelled like fried food. Not a very good welcome home!

P.S. I just wandered across your blog the other it!



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