It's funny how when you've grown up a certain way all your life, it feels so weird as you become exposed to a completely different culture or way of life for the first time. There's a saying back home that goes "until you visit another man's farmland, you will always think your father's farmland is the biggest".
I guess that's the beauty of different cultures and traditions in knowing that there are people all over the world who see and do things totally different from you. I know it would be so cool to experience some of these cultures and hope I get the chance to even though I have the worst fear of flying and start to literally panic at the thought of getting on a plane. How ironic that I want to be able to experience cultures but shudder at the thought of flying....😅😅
However, without straying too far away, just being in the U.S alone has been insane (in a good way) to witness and experience all the things you guys do differently here from my country, Nigeria. I've been taking mental notes and knew that one of these days I would like to share them and so first on the list is:
Watching how my sister parents her children takes me back to the way we were parented growing up and the difference is like night and day. My nephew would only get sent to his room for behaving badly and maybe a stern talking to but we would get a major spanking whenever we thought we could act out. We had such a fear of my mom as kids that we laugh now about how we would be running helter skelter inside the house as she was pulling up at the gate from work trying to make sure we remembered to get all our chores done. There was no tantrum throwing, no disobedience and certainly no talking back we did that wasn't met with a butt whooping or that 'you-better-not-try-it' stare all African moms are known to give their children. I guess my sister is more of an 'Authoritative Parent' going by this chart and she along with Americans in general don't believe in the concept of spanking. For you guys, it's called child abuse but for us, it was and still is known as home training!
Here is another stark difference in comparison to church attendance back home. I find that most churches (or the ones I've been to here at least) are very laid back with church attire. Many come so casually dressed that if I saw them walking about on a regular sunday, church would be the last place I would guess they were going. Then there's this whole 'coffee drinking' culture I see many people do that honestly blows my mind. It may seem so commonplace here but back home, it is a rare occurence to find anyone holding or drinking even a bottle of water, much less a whole beverage. The ushers would be on you in a nano second if you were seen sipping from those fancy cups ya'll like to use, LOL! People come dressed in shorts, flip flops and tank tops when back home, going to church is a sacred thing that you absolutely dress UP for. Furthermore, I notice that not all churches here believe in collecting offering or holy communion and that was shocking to me because churches in Nigeria almost make a whole sermon out of offering time so everyone knows to come with money specifically set aside for this time. There is singing going on as the baskets are being passed round and then the Pastor absolutely must bless the bounty when it's all been collected and pray for all of the church for honouring the Lord's command. This is standard practice but to find the opposite as the case here? listen...ya'll are balling!!
3. Food & Celebrations:
Can I just say Americans loooove their cheese! It's like there is cheese in every meal and I can't even remember all of the different names you call them because apparently, there is a particular cheese you use for a particular meal and if you try to switch the cheeses to another kind, you just messed up the entire plate of food..it's crazy but so fun to see. I often joke that if given the chance, you guys will gladly put cheese in your water just so you could drink it too. You pair so many weird foods together and call it a meal that I have refused to participate in that eating culture because I don't play with my food yo! I look at what Americans would call a salad sometimes and all I would be looking at is a bowl of leaves....like for real?😅. When you talk about food in Nigeria, you know you are getting a large plate of carbs and protein with some fats and oil to satisfy any hunger pangs you have. We eat heavy so I'm talking rice, yams, beans, plantain, rich soups and stews bursting with beef, fish, chicken..name it, we have it! That to me is a meal and not this alfredo pasta or mac and cheese stuff you guys rave all day about(feel free to insert the rolling eyes emoji here coz I'm rolling my eyes at ya'll...lol!)
When it comes to holidays and celebrations Americans observe, there's a ton. President's day, Memorial day, Veteran's day, Labor day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Spring Break etc. It's like there is a holiday or celebration at least twice a month but back home, we just observe the usuals- Xmas, New Years, Easter, the Muslim holidays, Democracy day, Children and Workers day. Then there are so many causes that have their own awareness days like breast cancer, sickle cell etc. Of course there's also stuff like Sisters day, best friends day that are not unique to the U.S but certainly observed. All cool but exhausting to be honest.
4. Thrifting/ Yard Sales:
It wasn't until very recently and with the growing popularity of social media influencers raving about the thrift culture, have Nigerians back home began to openly practice it. Only a few years ago, you would never hear of anybody telling the world that they spent any amount of money on fairly used or previously owned items even if they did, like...what??!!
Yard sales are more so unheard of but since being here, I actually can appreciate what this does for the community and have happily taken part in buying and selling items myself.
5. The Elderly:
This one I find to be the most shocking. The idea that the elderly among us are almost left alone to fend for themselves isn't something that is practiced or encouraged back home. Once you are in your 60s, 70s and older, you absolutely either have someone living with you to help around the house and with errands or you are living with relatives and family members. I see them all the time shopping for groceries at the store, carrying a ton of shopping bags themselves and driving alone. I get that the culture of Independence is big here and a lot of folks like to do things on their own without feeling like a burden to family and friends but it's just not anything I'm used to seeing. Some of these lovely mamas and papas move even quicker and are healthier than most young people so for that I applaud them. I also realize that for a number of them, living and doing things alone is their choice so I appreciate and love seeing it. It is simply the culture in Nigeria that when your parents become elderly or your grand parents, they come live with family members who can take care of them, it's just the circle of life. My mom has already demanded her own copy of keys to my house ( when I get it) so she can come and go as she pleases or else she is going to change all the locks. LOL! She knows her fate is to end up in the old people's home, Lol. Love you mom but you gotta go!!😅
These are just a handful of the differences I thought I'd share but I want to know, what are some cultural or maybe even traditional differences you have found where you live or have visited that are in stark contrast to how you grew up? I'm curious and would love if you shared in the comments.
Have a great weekend loves!