The student-run online newspaper for Starr's Mill High School

Expectations vs. reality

March 28, 2023


Photo via Pixabay (@Tumisu)

I have been here for almost eight months. I have experienced a lot of different things in American culture, but has it been like what I expected?

As a European, I had some assumptions about Americans prior to starting my exchange. I had heard the stereotypes. Americans are fat. Americans are bad at geography. Some stereotypes are partially true and some are not.

I expected sports to be big here, so it did not surprise me that they actually are. I love how a lot of students at the school play different sports and that people in general are passionate about sports all year. Also, some people are very serious about their sport, and I can tell you that it is not just a hobby for them but their actual world.

I had also heard that many Americans, especially outside of the cities, drive their cars a lot. It did not surprise me at all because there is not really a lot of public transportation and everything is farther away. 

There is a rush to get to everything.

— Staff Writer Agnes Sorensen

I feel people here live a busier life here than in Denmark. Many teenagers have sports or some kind of club after school. Adults work many hours and some people do volunteer work. There is a rush to get to everything.

People outside the U.S. generally think that America is kind of famous for all the fast food restaurants, which is so true. You can honestly barely drive a couple of miles and not see some kind of fast food restaurant. 

Also, something that I have noticed is that some Americans’ manners are not always great at the table – chewing with their mouths open, only using their fork, or talking while eating. 

I do not speak Dutch but Danish, and it is not really the same at all. 

— Staff Writer Agnes Sorensen

You might have seen some Tik Toks where Americans answer geography questions about the United States and other countries and are not always great at it. I will say that it is partially true. Though, if someone asked me about a country in Asia I would not be great either. Just for the record, I do not speak Dutch but Danish, and it is not really the same at all. 

“Make America great again.” This is a saying I even heard in Denmark during the 2016 election, because it is kind of big there as well. When it comes to politics, my country is very different from here. I have different thoughts about certain topics than some Americans do when it comes to politics and how the American system is. 

I had heard that America was divided when it comes to race, political beliefs, cultures and so on. It has honestly been interesting to experience how this reality is true. Something I was very surprised to see if it was true was if there is a divide between liberals and conservatives, especially here in the South.

I feel that global warming is something that more people talk about back in Denmark than here. You might have heard about this global warming thing. Either way U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide in 2020 was 4,713 million metric tons as the second largest. 

I do realize that there are a lot of people here compared to Denmark’s nearly 5.9 million population. I really do not feel like this has been talked about enough, or how to have more green energy like some of Denmark’s solutions.     

I love when people in general ask me questions about my experience.

— Staff Writer Agnes Sorensen

Some people have told me that America is actually kind of like Europe, because the East Coast is so different compared to the West Coast. I see that point, though America is actually one country with the same government and Europe is multiple countries in one continent.  

I was not sure what to expect about going to an American high school, but one thing I now know for sure is that it is not like “High School Musical.” People are not randomly singing and there is little free time here, unlike the movies portray it. 

Teenagers act differently than adults here and I say that as an exchange student. Adults are very interested and excited for me and to know what it is like back home, whereas I feel like teenagers are not as fascinated. I love when people in general ask me questions about my experience. 

Something I love about the people here is when they ask me, “How do y’all do it over there?” To be honest some people do not understand that I am from another country. Thus, most people are very interested in my experience here and are generally very nice even to strangers or a foreigner like me. 

It might sound like I had many generalizations, but I really enjoy being here. It has been so entertaining to have all these experiences that I can take back to Denmark and tell everyone about.

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