1. Jaywalking. My first week in California, another international student was fined 80$ because she crossed the street where she wasn’t supposed to. For our international group, jaywalking was simply part of everyday life. It wasn’t something you got fined for.

    PCH

    Pacific Coast Highway

  2. Focus on strengths. Generally speaking, it felt like wealth and strengths are shown off. A ‘if you got it, flaunt it’ kind of attitude. Sometimes it could come across as superficial, but there was a flip side to it: it helped me identify and become more aware of my own strengths. If you’re aware of them, you can put them to good use, right?
  3. Food references changed. The first time I went grocery shopping I found myself face to face with a huge wall of milk. Up until then, I thought milk came whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed. Here, there was 1%, 3%, fortified with vitamin D, fortified with vitamin E and so on. Then my eyes fell on half and half and I thought half=semi, ergo: semi-skimmed. So I bought it. My breakfast the next morning consisted of cereals with what turned out to be cream.

    PCH

    Pacific Coast Highway

  4. Service. I feel like the notion of being of service to others (through customer service or community involvement for example) is more engrained in US culture than in Europe.
  5. Driving & rain. When it rains in California, it’s like when it snows in Luxembourg: rien ne va plus. Well, sort of.
  6. Restaurant etiquette. Waiters introduce themselves by name and then clear your plate and bring you the check without you having asked for it. The idea, of course, is to maximize efficiency, but coming from a culture where you almost have to hunt waiters down to get the check or your plates cleared, it can feel like you’re being kicked out the door, gently but not so subtly.

    Getty Museum

    View from the Getty Museum

  7. School spirit. A completely new concept for me at the time. Students took pride in their schools and their schools’ sports teams.
  8. Workaholic lifestyle. Employers are not legally required to provide paid annual leave. For more details and a comparative look at a recent report on the subject, click here.
  9. Sunset. Even in the summer the sun sets around 8-8.30pm. In Luxembourg it can be light until 10.30-11pm.

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