The Smallest Differences

Authored by:
Aishna D.

Aishna D.

Moving from one continent to another, there are major differences in language, culture, and norms. Instead of talking about that, I wanted to touch on the small, laughable differences that just warrant a second look. Of course, every family and town is different so these are only differences that I have experienced. 

The Blinds

The blinds were the first thing to confuse me with my host family. There is a different way of opening and closing them, and the blinds themselves are different too. In school, there is also a way to remotely open and close the blinds, which happened to temporarily convince me that my school was haunted.  

Not refrigerating certain products

In America, my family refrigerated all dairy, eggs, and essentially anything that would fit in the fridge. Here, some families don’ refrigerate things like eggs, butter, milk, or ketchup. It actually makes the butter easier to spread. 

Raising one finger to ask questions

Instead of raising hands, students in my school raise… one finger. At least there is no confusion with people stretching. 

Stick shift cars

Obviously there were manual cars in America, but I primarily drove and rode in automatic cars. Here, I have only driven in manual cars.

Inconsistent schedules

In my school in America, I had the same four classes every day for a semester. Here, every day has a different combination of classes, which also leads to having some free periods in the day. I think it’s pretty cool because some days you can sleep in, go home early, or get some homework done in school. 

Pens & Pen Erasers

In school, most students are taking notes with blue pens. They also have special pen erasers, which work amazingly compared to the Amerian erasable pens that everyone used in middle school. Although initially stressful, the pen has a nice aesthetic. 

So many bikes

In my hometown, you only see people on bikes for workouts or to play with children. Here, there are herds of students biking to school every morning and when you need to get somewhere close, you just bike! My host family will bike to houses a few kilometers away even when they could drive. 

Lack of technology used in schools

The school has great Smart Board type things, but the students are not allowed to use technology in the way they are in America. You are not allowed to use your laptop or phone at any time during the school day unless you have a period off. This lead to an interesting time where I had to hide in the bathroom to study a Quizlet. 

Canceling classes/ Doing work at home

When a teacher gets sick, their classes just get canceled. Sometimes there can be an alternate teacher, but not always. Also, if there is a day where there is no instruction planned, the class can be canceled and you can be asked to finish work for the class at home. 

Knocking on desks

In my school, whenever you would clap, they knock on desks. This happens after presentations, speeches, and everything else. They started doing this because clapping was too loud and disturbing. Even the German students find it a bit strange. 


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