1. 100% natural is actually not natural at all.
When you move to a different culture, it is expected that you will have to get used to eating different foods. When coming to the United States, everybody tells you to be careful with what you eat, after all, America is known as the land of fast food and extremely large portions. However, what no one knows is that it is extremely hard to find natural juices around here. You might be able to find places that sell freshly squeezed juices if you are living in a somewhat big city, but it is very likely that it will be expensive (I paid $4 for the small cup in the picture). However, if you are living in a small town like Hanover AND in a college campus with a meal plan (like me), freshly squeezed juices will not be part of your everyday life anymore. What you will encounter is juice machines, cans, or bottles with the label “100% Natural”. DON’T LET IT FOOL YOU!
2. Wiffleball is a very competitive sport.
When you move to the U.S.A., you know you will eventually have to learn the rules of American football and baseball. If you are from a country where soccer is the sport everyone talks about (like me), you know you will have to get used to soccer not being popular at all. This is all expected. What is surprising is that, at Hanover College, you will have to learn the rules and probably play (or play and probably learn the rules) of a game called WiffleBall. People at Hanover College participate in a WiffleBall tournament during Spring Term hosted by one of the fraternities on campus. It is really fun to either watch or play with friends! It is also really fun to watch and be part of the International Team, as most people in the team never played it before coming here, so you know you are not alone.
3. There is a dance called grinding…
Grinding is a very popular form of dance at fraternity parties at Hanover College and in the United States in general. It is also popular in some other countries around the world, but it is definitely not a thing in Brazil. Therefore, when I first got here, it was different for me to see people dancing like this in parties. If you are like me and grinding is not a way to dance in your country, watch this video to see what I’m talking about:
4. Your name can complicate fast food orders.
If you have a name typical to where you’re from, people will often pronounce it wrong. Before coming here, I didn’t realize that Flavia could be a tricky name to pronounce, but it actually makes sense since “a” is pronounced differently in English than it is in Portuguese. However, having a foreign name can imply in some funny situations, especially when ordering food at fast food restaurants. Whenever I go to Taco Bell and give them my actual name, one of the two following things happen:
1) They call my name wrong and people look at me like “Who even has that name?”
2) They don’t call my name at all because they don’t know how to pronounce it, so I end up waiting for my order for a long time. When I finally realize that there in an order at the counter and go ask them “Who’s that order for?” they will often reply saying “Something with an F.”
With that in mind, when ordering at fast food restaurants that call orders by name instead of numbers, you might want to come up with an American name to play safe.
5. Some people here will know more about your country than you do.
When you go to a different country, you expect that people will ask the typical (read stereotypical) questions about where you are from. However, what was surprising to me was that a lot of people, mainly my professors, knew a lot about Brazil and actually taught me more about my own culture than many of my Brazilian professors back home. For example, one of my Communications professor would always ask me if I knew some Brazilian artist or song that I often did not. My Anthropology professor actually did her dissertation about Capoeira, a martial art from Brazil, and is now publishing a book about it. She taught me so much about Brazil’s religion, culture, and history in our classes. I never thought I would learn so much about my own country after living in another one. I guess that is the beauty of studying abroad… It is by immersing yourself in a place where nothing is familiar that you truly learn about your own identity.