It’s been two months and I am having the time of my life in the US. After coming to US from Pakistan, I realized that the gap between realities and perceptions amongst these two countries is huge. Whatever we know about each other is mainly mediated through media ( BBC, CNN, other News channels and even Hollywood). I thought of putting down a few common misconceptions that I have personally felt and dealt with, in order to bridge a few perceptual gaps. Many of my misconceptions were corrected when I came here. I am sharing some misconceptions about America based on my own personal experiences
Americans are arrogant. They don’t want to talk to you.
Not true at all. I’m sure some are (as you would find in any country) but I didn’t find any yet. Even before coming here I got a chance to meet a bunch of them in Pakistan. They were really friendly and outgoing, easy to get along with and up for a good laugh. This perception largely comes from the culture the US has made for itself which is largely publicized around the world. They are least of all arrogant. They can be shy sometimes, you just need to break the ice and would find them very approachable and easygoing. In fact, when I tell people that I’m from Pakistan, they get really excited to know more about me and my life back home. Many are genuinely interested in getting to know you better. You need to meet these people in order to realize this
Americans have no family values. They abandon their kids when they turn 18.
This is just another misconception. You would need to see American family gatherings for Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving before you jump to any conclusion. Most of them give a lot of importance to basic family values and parents don’t abandon their children as they turn 18. Infact a lot of their families are like our families. Parents support their kids in every way until their kids start earning for themselves. When I came here I was invited by many families for dinner or to join in their family activities. I felt very happy when they treated me like a member of their own family. I found out that the traditions and values in their families are very similar to the ones we have back home. Parents work hard to fullfill the needs of their kids. Kids give respect and love to elders. However, the right of freedom( or rather its extent) given to children can be confusing sometimes. It allows children to disagree, even argue with their parents. While in most other cultures such an action would be considered as a sign of disrespect and lack of love. This is not the case in the United States. It is simply a part of developing one’s independence and doesn’t mean that kids don’t respect their parents.
Americans are addicted to fast food only. They don’t have any other choice.
No doubt Americans are fond of fast food, but they are certainly not restricted to it. In fact, there are so many other cuisines in the US to choose from. With a boost in immigration over the years, the menu has become even bigger and better! Mexican, Italian, Indian, Pakistani, Afghani and so many other cusines are available . I dont have any problem in selecting food for myself. Even Americans like to try out food from different countries and not just be bound to fast food.
Americans do not speak any language besides English , neither are they interested in any other.
Not true. I know many Americans who can speak French and Spanish as well. I was so surprised to see one of my American friend learn Arabic. She had to visit the Arab states for official purposes so she started learning how to speak Arabic. This shows that Americans are very open-minded and not only bound to their own language. Before coming to the States, I met some Americans in Pakistan. I was quite surprised when an American lady started speaking to me in Urdu. Despite her different accent, I loved the way she spoke :).
The Gangster culture is very common in America. You may be kidnapped easily on the way back home.
It’s sad how the media can distort the real picture. This is just another misconception exaggerated by the media. Certain places may be dangerous , but it isn’t like anybody will take random shots at you while you’re walking down the street. There are good and bad people everywhere but that doesn’t mean you’ll be kidnapped as soon as you step out of your house. Most places are safe in general, like any other place in the world, you just have to be a little aware of your own surroundings . Throughout my stay in the US I have been living on my own with no family member or relatives around . I go out shopping alone and come back home, occcasionally , late from work. Yet, I have never encountered people pointing a gun at me or trying to mug me. On the contrary, whenever you are lost or need directions people here always try to guide you without any hesitation.
In my next blog, I will be highlighting some general misconceptions about Pakistan, which I feel are being precieved in America.