My trip to the US
The United States of America is the most exiting place I have ever been. It was a fantastic trip with my amazing class. Before the trip, I had some very high expectations, and the US had some problems matching these expectations to begin with. But all in all there is no doubt that they have been fulfilled. I have brought home some great lasting impressions and knowledge about all the cultural differences.
Expectations and first impressions
My expectations were very high. I had been waiting for this trip for one and a half year, and my class and me had been talking about how excited we were about 1 year before the trip.
Here in Denmark, we had been preparing a lot before we travelled to the US. We had to arrange the group that were going to stay together in the rooms at night, some of us should agree what to experience and a lot of practical stuff. So our plan was pretty clear when we took off.
Another thing that were increasing the excitement, was the tasks we had to do about the US. Off course all these assignments were not fun, but they were all about the US, and that made me think about America all day long. We learnt so much about the United States of America from home. I just could not wait to see the country through my own eyes!
When we landed in the US, after a long and exhausting journey, my expectations were not fulfilled straight away. We spent our first 3 out of 8 days in Washington DC. It was fine, but not as cool as New York where we spend our last 5 days. And off course all the pictures I saw from home were from New York. It was all pictures from Times Square, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Empire State Building and so on. It was actually not fair to DC, because nothing should be compared to New York. The buildings in DC were not as high and impressive as I expected, and all the time we used in DC were not as overwhelming as I thought it would be. But the fact that we started in DC and went to New York afterwards ended up making the experience in New York much better, and exactly as overwhelming as I thought it would be. My expectations were fulfilled at once when we drove through New York, heading towards Manhattan. The tall and beautiful buildings amazed us all — we have nothing like that here in Denmark.
In some odd way all these huge and impressive buildings gave me a bad first impressions of the ordinary American. In some way I could not say that these magnificent buildings do not have something to do with power. I ended up comparing the ordinary American person with power and success. And maybe also some strange kind of desire, when I looked upon the stunning buildings. At that time I thought that it would be hard to converse with an American. But actually the Americans turned out to be the exact opposite. They were kind and easy to converse with, which is one of the huge cultural differences between the US and Denmark.
As I just wrote, one of the things I really noticed during my visit to the US was the kindness of the population. Every single American was so accommodating and kind. It does not matter whom you ask for directions, everybody will answer you in a sweet and soft voice. Actually some people ask you, “Do you need help?” Before you even get to ask them for directions. They are just observing a tourist in need, and ask if they can help as if it were an instinct.
Danes could really learn from that. Almost every Dane is a bit unfriendly to people they do not know. The majority of Danes would probably not even stop if someone asked them to. They will just walk straight ahead and ignore you. We are so shy and cold against strangers on the street. The kindness to other people here in Denmark is not even close to what I saw in the US. They were so thoughtful and would always help other people. They did not only care about themselves, but were interested in the people among them.
Small talk was not a problem for them, more like a matter of course. It was so nice to witness. Especially because my impression is that we here in Denmark fear the small talk.
Another big cultural difference is the food culture. In Denmark we have a lot of “national dishes” that you will associate with our country. Two examples could be “æbleskiver” and “hakkebøf med bløde løg” (“aebleskiver” and hakkeboef med bloede loeg”). The first thing is a small cake of batter cooked over the fire in a special kind of pan, and the second is basically just a steak with trimmings. We think at these dishes as real Danish. But it is nothing like what they have in the US. They have the most diverse food culture I have ever experienced. When you walk down a street it is like one big buffet with dishes from all over the world. We saw, as an example, an Ethiopian restaurant. I do not think I have ever even heard about an Ethiopian restaurant here in Denmark. The diversity was in some way so refreshing. It was nothing like everything we have in Denmark, and I loved it.
My lasting impressions are many. Most of them are positive, but some are also negative. One impression I can not get out of my head is all the homeless we saw. In the end it began to be pretty scary because I really felt the misery. Somewhere we saw big groups with five or more homeless people, and they slept on a cardboard box. Of course we have homeless people here in Denmark too, but it is almost only in Copenhagen. It is no way near what I saw in the US.
Luckily all the good impressions meant the most. Especially the view from Top of The Rock was amazing. It was so beautiful to see all the majestic buildings from above. We were so lucky to be there at sunset — we saw it all in daylight and at night. It was really astonishing.
Beyond that I can simply not forget when we were at Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.
Brooklyn Bridge was one of the most amazing things I have ever tried. The view was indescribable. That was the best walk ever!
The 9/11 and Lincoln Memorials were also great to see. The 9/11 Memorial because of its historical relevance, and Lincoln Memorial because that I have seen it a thousand times in movies.
All in all this visit was my best trip ever. My expectations were high, but have been fulfilled anyway. I have learned about some cultural differences between Denmark and the US, and enjoyed to converse with Americans. They were very kind and helpful which is not a matter of course here in Denmark. The food culture is also way different than in Denmark, where we only have very few foreign restaurants compared to the US.
My lasting impressions is, and will always be, very good. Especially Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial will be fantastic memories. I had a great time and I am sure I will visit the United States of America again.