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American teachers abroad, what is the craziest thing your students thought was true about American/Americans?(r/AskReddit)
Teacher in Japan here. Man, where to start?
1) All Americans are fat (tried to convince them this wasn’t true, to no avail), and everyone is Christian (squashed that pretty quick)
2) We only eat hamburgers
3) All Americans keep their shoes on in their homes (only half true. Lots of gasps when I explained this), and all homes are huge mansions (they were surprised to see pictures of my one-story ranch-style home).
4) Everyone carries a gun – related, America is very dangerous and you could get killed walking down the street (again, only half true)
5) We don’t work as hard as Japanese people
6) Cowboys still exist. Edit: So, cowboys still exist? Now I have learned something today lol. I guess I was talking about Native American-killing, saloon-entering, dueling cowboys, and not so much the kind we have today. But I stand corrected, they exist!
7) Everyone is beautiful (contradicts number 1, but this is based on the Hollywood image)
Teaching is fun. They were surprised to learn how many dairy products we eat on a daily basis (I’m from Wisconsin and showed them pictures of a lot of cheese, ice cream, etc…). I probably accidentally reinforced their beliefs when I showed them a hamburger, fries, and ice cream meal that was around 2000 calories…They’ve also been very surprised that…
8) We don’t take baths every night (we shower) and we don’t have any public hot springs. Edit: As it’s been pointed out a few times, we DO have hot springs in America. However, they are few and far between when compared to Japan. Also, Japanese hot springs work in such a way that you walk in, shower and bathe in front of a mirror in front of others, rinse off, and go completely naked into the hot water. I’m not sure about American hot springs, but I would find it hard to believe that this was also the case in the West. Many old people and children and everyone in between love hot springs, and they are usually (in very rare cases, not) separated by gender.
9) We don’t often eat fish or rice, and when we eat fish it’s usually fresh water (for those not near an ocean)
10) We own many cars (every member of my family has one to get to work), with wide yards, wide roads and driveways, often have garages, and basements. I explained we need basements in the Midwest in case of tornadoes but also for storage.
11) The size of our refrigerators is ridiculously big to them, as are our Christmas trees, our food and drink sizes.
12) People decorate their houses with lights for Christmas (in Japan, mainly shops, companies, and parks etc are where you can see “illumination.”
13) They are always surprised to hear how much it costs to see a doctor and pay for medicine. In Japan, they have national healthcare. I’m covered by it and when I have to see a doctor and get medicine it costs in total around 35 dollars. The only exception is the morning after pill, which costs closer to 300 dollars (versus about 40 in the US). However, over the counter meds in Japan SUCK. They’re weak and expensive and have no effect on me whatsoever.
There’s more, but on account of I don’t think many people are going to see this, I’ll stop here for now.
Edit: Woah, people care! I’ve posted more here. You can also check out my blog if you want. I haven’t updated so much recently, I’m trying my best to do better on that, but I’ve lived in Japan for almost three total years so I’ve seen and done a lot. Enjoy. 🙂
You may have also noticed I have a writer’s blog. If you’ve enjoyed reading my words, you might enjoy them in the format of a sci-fi or zombie novel, samples available on Amazon, and available for Kindle purchasing for only 99 cents. Not because they suck, but because I wanna get my name out there. Apologies for the shameless self-plug, but a self-publishing girl’s gotta advertise herself somehow. Cheers!
Edit SOME MOAR!! – Answering your comments has made me remember a few more things. Like…
–Japanese people really don’t drink that much milk. Many of my students detest the stuff. It makes me weep milky tears. Also, cheese. Not many kinds in Japan and definitely not great quality overall, unless you go to a special shop where you can buy more expensive kinds of imported cheese. All kids, however, agree that ice cream is the bomb.
–In place of this, many Japanese people drink lots of cold and hot teas instead. I rarely see a Japanese person drinking water, even when working out. This always baffles me, even three years later.
–I don’t know if it’s because my students are young, but many of them think that America is older than it is. This is probably because Japan has a history that goes thousands of years back, while the America we know today is still fairly young, less than 300 years old.
–There’s a present culture (omiyage) in Japan where if you travel somewhere you’re expected to bring gifts back to your coworkers and friends (I brought back a bunch of Reese’s peanut butter cups for my teachers, lots of comments about how sweet and salty they were compared to Japanese chocolate). Very fun but gets very expensive. I once went to Disneyland in Tokyo with a friend and she was being really stingy with her money all day, until it was night and we were about to leave, and she bought about a million omiyage for her family and friends. A very sweet gesture from a girl who really didn’t have that much money to spend.
–On Japanese work ethics: Their contract will say 8:15 to 4:45, for example. But they will often work extra hours without extra pay. This will be because teachers (or public office workers, or salary men, or whomever), have to come in early to prepare their work for the day, and stay late to impress the boss. Some people fall asleep at their desks and aren’t chastised because it’s a sign they were working very hard. Teachers are also coaches of clubs and often work weekends and go to practices after class. On top of grading and writing tests and lessons. They are very, very busy and I do my best to support my English teachers all that I can.
–In Japan, there’s something called PuriKura, which comes from the words “Print Club,” or a photography club in Japan. It’s a fancified photo booth where you take a bunch of pictures and can personalize them and edit them to look just as you want them to. Many of them automatically widen your eyes and brighten the colors. Here’s an example on my blog.
–Also, Japanese teachers and business men etc do not often have tattoos or piercings. Especially teachers. They do not have dyed hair or painted fingernails or anything of the like. This is because if it’s not allowed for the students, it’s not allowed for the teachers. They are also not allowed to have long hair unless it is pulled back in a ponytail. (I’m an exception with long hair and a tragus and forward-helix piercing. My kids like to ask about them but my teachers generally ignore them.)
–The anti-tattoo culture is so strong that I’ve even heard it said you might not get a job if you have a tattoo. And since health checks are mandatory every year in Japan, doctors may make a note if they find a tattoo on your body even where you can hide it. Your employers and potential employers can see this and make a decision based off of such information.
Edit: Jesus, Reddit, it’s been less than an hour since I posted my blog link and I’ve already got 300 views. I hope you find some good stuff there! Thanks for enjoying my stuff!