American Culture

American Culture  
Before taking this class, I often thought that American society was the standard in which to measure all other societies from, but after reviewing the material in this course, it is impossible to make such a comparison. Many of the people in a culture similar to the American would probably find most of the cultures we have studied to be ?slow?, strange, or undesirable. In fact, it seems that many of the societies actually prefer to live the way they do and accept it as normal. ?

Normal? is a relative term, and it is difficult to establish evidence to label a culture or its characteristics abnormal. What may seem to work here often would be disastrous to other cultures. American society stresses individuality and competition, to be the best you can be for yourself first. This works well for the structure of life that has developed in this country.
Being five years in the United States I decided to talk about American culture. The reason why I choose this culture is because this is like my second home. To tell you the truth I had a culture-shock when I first got here but now I value my independence and privacy, something that has stemmed from living in this society. My informant, Cheryl Samuelu, was born and raised in the United States. The reason why I choose this informant is because her son, Talalotu Samuelu, is my roommate and Mrs. Cheryl is like my second mother. They invited me more than one hundred times for the meals at their house. Next to the Samuelu family I learned a lot of things about the American culture which I am going to talk about in this paper. First of all I am going to talk about family life in the United States, followed by discussing the educational system within high schools, colleges and universities, after which I am going to cover government and technology, concluding this paper with a discussion on religion. I am going to finish this paper with an overview of what I have learned.

First of all I would like to say couple words about the country itself. It is located on the North American continent and has Canada and Mexico as her neighbors. The population is around 300 million people and the capital city is Washington D.C. On the flag there are fifty stars which represent the fifty states. Each state has two senate members. The most populated state is California with 30 million people. The money they use is called the American Dollar and it usually has faces of previous Presidents on the front side of the paper bill. At this moment the President of the United States is George W. Bush. The American people had an affair with one of their presidents not long ago but it looks like everything is fine now. September 11, 2001 was the worst day for the people from the United States. At that day two planes crashed in the World Trade Centers killing over 5,000 people. This terrorist attack was organized by Osama Bin Laden, one of the most wanted people for criminal acts all over the world.

Recently, the American people had a war with Iraq, which seems successful because they removed Saddam Hussein from his presidential position. Knowing this backdrop of United States trivia helped me understand the country a little more clearly.
Family life in the United States is a really interesting topic to talk about. What I have learned so far is that most families have a mixed religious point of view, at least one child, live a nice, successful, and peaceful life, drive at least two cars, live in a nice house or apartment, and has at least one pet. I think that mixed families from a religious point of view is a common thing not just for the people from the United States but from the all over the world. Some families in my country are mixed and there are not any conflicts at all.
What I found very interesting is that almost every family has at least one child.

The reason why I found this interesting is because I am coming from the country that almost every family has at least two children with some families having over five children. Also, I would like to point out that my informant Mrs. Samuelu has a family with one child.
The biggest difference between my country and the United States was family living. In the United States most of the people live in nice houses or apartments and they usually pay monthly rent or take a credit from the bank. This is definitely what I would like to happen in the rest of the countries around the world but, unfortunately, I do not think that this will ever happen. I would venture to say that lower and middle class families live in apartments and pay monthly rent while high class families usually live in houses which they would pay for with credit. This is possible because higher class families would be able to get credit based on their credit history and profession. I would like to point out that credit history is a very important thing in the United States because if people do not have good history they would probably suffer most of their life working hard and paying monthly rent. I also like the way people can buy cars on credit. This way any family member can have a car, if the family income is high enough to support that.

Last but not the least I learned that almost every family has a pet or pets depending on the size of the house or apartment. Unfortunately, my informant had one pet but it died 4 years ago. The only two things that I did not like about American families would be that children start to work when they are 18 years old or less without much support from their parents, and more than half of American families break up within the first two years of marriage.

From my point of view, and according to my informant, the United States has a really weak education program. High schools are harder to attend than the colleges and universities because one has more freedom at these latter institutions than in high schools. One does not have to go to a class if one does not want to attend class. The disadvantage is one cannot make up any missed work. In high school, if one missed three or four days of school, one got the same amount of time to make it up. For example, at college or university one can get up and leave the classroom at anytime. The reason for that is, one is paying for credits, and if one does not pass a class one would not get any credit for a particular class. That is a waste of time and money according to my informant.
Another reason that makes college or university different from high school is that the student is able to make his or her own schedule. One could come in as early as eight in the morning, and leave as late as seven at night.

By having this opportunity at college or university, it makes it much more convenient for those who work forty or more hours per week.
Popularity and artificial intensity play a big role in American high schools. Dress codes in high schools are one good example of stopping students from expressing their own individuality. At college or university there is no such a thing as a dress code; individuality is encouraged. Individuality is something that everyone has and is very special and unique to them. By depriving the student to abilibty to be an individual, many Americans believe the government is trying to interfere with their right of free expression. Government involvement in the individual?s life will be discussed later on in this paper.
Once high school is completed the student chooses which college or university to attend for next couple of years.

Choosing between colleges and universities is one of the most important decisions a young person can make in his or her life and one that can affect their professional future. Factors to consider in this decision include size of the institution, professional goals, and financial cost. These are just the top three factors that my informant mentioned. However, both institutions offer the opportunity to further one?s education and choice of a career. Students should consider the difference between a two year community college and a large research institution before selection process is complete.
The size of the College or University is an important factor that one needs to consider when choosing between a small college and a university. There is a big difference in atmosphere and educational opportunities between a large state university and a small college. Not that one is bad and the other is good, but they offer different types of college experiences. Most large universities are found in or near major urban areas, have diverse student population, offer a wider variety of career and professional opportunities and are more recognized. Many programs of study in engineering, art, and the medical field can be found in large universities. Large classes with hundreds of students are common in freshman core courses. Sometimes the administrative staff and faculty can seem uncaring.

The competition is likely to be more intense than in smaller colleges. For many bright students, this will mark the first time they have to really study, a skill they may not have needed before. A small college on the other hand, can offer an education that is more personal and growth oriented. A small college is likely to have staff and professors who take an interest in individual students. Most of the professors know their students names because instead of teaching a class of 250, the professor may teach a class of 18. The competition is much less intense and the environment is likely to be more supportive.
The choice of attending a small community college or a University will be based on financial cost and opportunities. Financial assistance is available in many forms. Grants, student loans, and work programs are offered by each institution. Grants offered by Universities require much paperwork and in some cases complicated forms, essays and interviews. Applying for student loans and work programs are usually less complicated at a community college. Overall, consideration of time and money becomes an important issue. University?s offer four year programs compared to the two year program at a community college.

This comparison means more financial responsibilities for the choice of a college degree. The cost of attending a four year college rises yearly, especially with out of state students. Community colleges are usually local, affording a student to stay at home while attending classes. Consideration of personal goals for a career will influence choices whether to attend a community college or a four year college. Universities offer a bachelor, masters, or PH degree in any field. Small community colleges offer associate?s degrees in trade or profession. However both institutions can make a successful career choice.
Overall Community College for some students is an excellent choice. Community College is an ideal choice for students who were not slated on a college track in high school or for returning students who did not attend college at all. From this base students interested in completing a bachelor?s degree can pick up the academic skills they may have missed in high school. These skills can allow students to successfully transfer to a four year institution. Also, community colleges are less expensive than four year colleges and are sometimes easier to attend as a part ? time student for those who need to work and cannot be a full time student.

I was most impressed with technology in the United States. I was lucky with this topic because Mrs. Cheryl works for a little company which requires a good knowledge of computers. She introduced me to a lot of new things that I have never heard before. In some countries would be enough just to mention the name of the owner of Microsoft, Bill Gates, but in some countries that name would be just a name. There is no doubt that United State is the number one country in the world when we talk about technology. The operating systems, different computer programs, different skills, different types of technology, and the different speed of the Internet, are just a few examples among all that come to my mind. I was impressed when I found out that people can download things from the internet in less than one hour. In some countries people need two to three hours to download one simple song, but in the United States that is not the case.

Thanks to advanced technology every light on the street is synchronized, every bus is on time to pick up the passengers, every underground train is going fast. All this was nice to hear especially from a person who is in that field.
Government is something that most Americans are proud of. There are many reasons for this but one includes that America is the strongest country in the world when comes to the military weapons They are also a democratic country where people have the freedom of speech and the freedom to express themselves, and last but not the least they live nice lives. Republicans control the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and many key State Governorships, including New York and Texas. They have lost the last two Presidential elections but finally George W. Bush won the latest one. Most Republicans usually fall into several different categories: the traditional conservatives, the religious right, the Nixon/Rockefeller centrist wing, and libertarians. There are also some that fall into categories that are basically in between these, but most Republicans will usually fall into one of these categories. As I said earlier there was a big affair with President Clinton and his secretary Lewinski. Once again American Government proved that they are too strong and they hide the story well. Fortunately for them American people always mind their own business so this affair only lasted couple of months.
As one of the strongest countries in the world America, is a member of organizations such as NAFTA and NATO.

The United States is a member of North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, and also a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization with some other countries from Europe such as Germany, France, England, etc. From government point of view this is a really stable and strong country.
Religion to a human is one of the most important factors in one?s life, as well as their own being. People practice religion for several reasons. Throughout the world it is practiced as being a part of a country?s heritage. However, many people seek religion for the feeling of security. There are hundreds of different cultures throughout the world; some who believe that everything, including their health, is left up to the Gods to heal, while others believe in praying for the advanced technology of today help them to survive. This is their feeling of security, it may be seen different in someone else?s opinion, but to some it is what has made them the person they are. I believe everyone should have the freedom of religion and the state should respect this stance. When it comes down to the state and the practice of religion, I feel it is the right of the individual being to believe and practice whatever faith he or she chooses, as is stated in the first amendment.
In the United States there are many religions but Christianity is definitely the most popular. In some states there are conflicts between government and religion. For example, one state?s government has a strong allegiance to one particular religion; they will see other religious people?s views as a threat to political authority. This only causes the state to overlook certain religions depending on their own faith.

Another main dilemma for the government is the danger of religions placing allegiance to God way above obedience to the state. The state has to be sure to protect the inalienable rights of every citizen. Although there have been many conflicts between church and state, both religion and government are concerned with morality. Also, in the United States, the state and the church are not totally separated as America?s national motto is, ?In God we trust?. Court witnesses swear oaths on bibles, and congress opens with prayer. The main goal of both religion and government institutions is to help people lead a good moral life while maintaining safety. Therefore if the state uses religion as a source of its own practice, I do not see how they believe to have the right to come between the people?s own practice. Religion, as being one of the main necessities in almost all human survival, is the basis on which people revolve their entire lives. From morality to the solution of many problems, people look up to their religion as being their main guidance through life.

A person?s ?Freedom of Religion? is seen to them as their one freedom to find themselves and cherish all they have been blessed with in their lives. The States have always found their involvement with a person?s religion as being a main issue, and feel at times that they have their own right to come between them. However, I believe it is up to the individual?s will to choose to live life in the way of their heritage. The only time a state should really come between an individual and such a freedom would be when religion is taking advantage of another precious life.

Therefore, the state should keep its limits from a person and their religion because religion is a significant part of people?s lives and in finding who they are which should definitely be respected.
Overall, this was great experience. To be honest I had a little help just by living in the United State for five years. I knew a lot of things but thanks to my informant I expanded my knowledge about the United State. I have to mention that technology, government and religion would be the topics that I enjoyed the most but the majority of the information I gained was when we talk about colleges and universities. Some of the interesting things that we talked about are the way families work within society, how people have freedom of speech, freedom of choosing religion, have a credit to take from the bank and buy nice cars and houses, and how every family has at least a pet. I said before that I look at America as my second home so definitely I would move there to spend rest of my life.
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