Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 44218 times)

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Elfmama

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... Again with the O/T, but I had several friends back in the day (before that video) who were in that very band, and incredibly dedicated to boot.

I never know if I'm impressed by music because I know nothing, or because it's actually amazing.  8)

What an amazing experience that must have been. They are stunningly, stunningly good. Their intonation is almost perfect. And that's hard with a wind orchestra.

But yes, I get the impression that music programmes in schools over there are very very good. We could do with a bit more of that in our education system.
My grandsons all had an opportunity to learn a musical instrument in early elementary grades, about 7 years old.  Usually stringed instruments like violin or viola. We faithfully go to their concerts.  And yes, they are of the quality that you would expect of 7-year-old beginners.  It's...painful.  :-\ There's a lot of squeaking and squawking.

Fortunately 2 of the 4 are more interested in vocal music, and those are much more enjoyable. Oldest grandson M has been in chorus since he was about 8, and now at 15 is very good, even though he now sings bass instead of soprano.  DD2 is really encouraging her 9-year-old son J, since music is something he can still enjoy doing even with his failing eyesight.  He was excitedly telling me about Braille music scores a couple of weeks ago.
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Diane AKA Traska

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This house has one room with no overhead light... the rear bedroom.  Instead, one socket (and I do meant one socket... the other one on the same plate is normal) is operated by the light switch.  It's baffling to me.  I prefer lamps, but if you drop something and can't find it, overhead is the way to go!

Makes sense to me (because I've lived it). You don't want the switch to control both things plugged into the socket. What if you have a lamp in one (which you'd want to turn on when you walked in) and an alarm clock or computer in the other, and someone flicks the switch without thinking?

The baffling part to me isn't the single socket, that was more for clarification.  It's that you know you want a light to be so essential that you'd control it with a wall switch, and yet you don't go ahead and stick one on the ceiling.
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Ereine

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I wasn't aware of the lack of overhead lighting before but it has surprised me. I'm in Finland and while I think that it's uncommon to have permanent light fixtures in the ceiling almost every room will have an outlet in the ceiling where you can plug in the ceiling light of your choice.

I always find the European surprise at the size of USA surprising, as it's roughly the size of Europe. But maybe it's different if you live in the really densely populated parts of Western Europe and can't really visualize the size of Europe either (it will take me 12 hours by ferry to Sweden or maybe four hours by high speed train to Russia).

Dazi

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I wasn't aware of the lack of overhead lighting before but it has surprised me. I'm in Finland and while I think that it's uncommon to have permanent light fixtures in the ceiling almost every room will have an outlet in the ceiling where you can plug in the ceiling light of your choice.

I always find the European surprise at the size of USA surprising, as it's roughly the size of Europe. But maybe it's different if you live in the really densely populated parts of Western Europe and can't really visualize the size of Europe either (it will take me 12 hours by ferry to Sweden or maybe four hours by high speed train to Russia).

I thought the US was nearly twice the size of Europe as a whole.  No idea if I'm correct or not, it just seems that I remember hearing that.
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Ereine

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I got my numbers from Wikipedia which gives the size of USA as 3.79 million sq mi and Europe as 3.9 million sq mi. It obviously depends on the definition of Europe as the one Wikipedia uses includes Russia's European parts and most people usually probably just think about Western Europe and forget large countries like Ukraine. The distance from Rovaniemi (a town in northeastern Europe, in Finnish Lapland) to Lisbon in Southwestern Europe is about the same as the distance between New York City and Los Angeles (actually what surprised me in thos thread was that apparently New York and New England had switched places in my mental map of United States and so I was a bit shocked that Boston was north of NYC).
« Last Edit: November 22, 2013, 09:16:31 AM by Ereine »

cwm

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Looking back at the original article again, something struck me:

"   •   Many schools have orchestras, bands, theaters of a very high, almost professional quality. Free.
"

This. I'm so impressed by the standard of US school bands. I'm sure some are better than others, but take a look at the Langham Creek symphonic wind band. I can't believe they're of school age; it's stunningly good. They're better than some professional wind orchestras.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VR_I4mwEF8

I really don't think you'd find an equivalent here. School bands here are almost an afterthought unless you're at a specialist music college, which I always think is a great shame.

I was listening to the symphonic orchestra I was a part of in high school (public school - people from top band got to play with the string orchestra), and I realized, for the first time ever, how truly good we were. We could play intricate classical pieces as well arrangements from movie soundtracks like Superman Returns and Pirates of the Caribbean. While I was in high school, I always thought we sucked, because I always heard the mess - ups (and I still can, even after more than 4 years!), but now I realize how very hard those pieces were. Cabbage and I were in one of the best music programs where we lived, and the directors never let up on us or let us be slackers.

Unfortunately, there are even schools in the US where music programs are only an afterthought, and that really saddens me. One of the best things that ever happened to me was joining orchestra in middle school (11 years old), because I got a creative outlet and lots of friends I wouldn't have otherwise had, because I was so bullied otherwise.

In my school city we had amazing bands and orchestras in the city, as well as a healthy youth symphony program. Starting in grade 7, I began doing weekly rehearsals outside of school for the youth symphony, working my way up to the top orchestra. I actually got the chance to tour Italy with this group while I was in high school, and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the best experience I've ever been given in my entire life. I made a lot of good friends and gained a lot of amazing stories to tell.

The really weird thing is, private school doesn't have the same opportunity for music that the public schools do. I switched from a parochial school to public in grade 5, and started in band. My sister was two years behind me, and the next year in grade 4 she got the option to join orchestra. See, I couldn't join in grade 5 because everyone else had been working on their instruments for a year already.

Though perhaps someone in the UK could help me understand something. Perpetua says there's no equivalent, but when I was in Italy, there were several youth organizations represented. It was a huge music festival, and I have the poster at mom's house, but I distinctly remember when we played in Florence, the Bromley Youth Wind Band played right after us. Is that a specialist group?

nutraxfornerves

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Here is a map that shows most of Western Europe overlaid on the US.
http://goeurope.about.com/od/europeanmaps/l/bl-country-size-comparison-map.htm

Here is North America overlaid on Europe:
http://www.radicalcartography.net/index.html?us-europe

And here is Australia plunked down on top of various other regions
http://www.personally-selected-aboriginal-art.com/australian-maps.html

Nutrax
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perpetua

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Though perhaps someone in the UK could help me understand something. Perpetua says there's no equivalent, but when I was in Italy, there were several youth organizations represented. It was a huge music festival, and I have the poster at mom's house, but I distinctly remember when we played in Florence, the Bromley Youth Wind Band played right after us. Is that a specialist group?

There is, but often they're not attached to individual schools. The Bromley Youth Wind Band looks to be an independent organisation. Sometimes they have some local funding but a lot of organisations like this are community bands in which members pay a sub to attend.

Again, I'd imagine it depends where you grow up here, too. Where I grew up there wasn't much in the way of music services; there was a peripatetic music teacher who came to the school once a week and we could have individual lessons with him, and there was a youth wind symphony and an orchestra, which were made up of players from all the schools in the district with rehearsals on Saturday mornings in the gym of one of the bigger local schools. I got into that because it was conducted by my music teacher and it was great.

Then there's somewhere like London, where you've got things like the LSSO (London Schools Symphony Orchestra). A player in our orchestra (I mentioned her in the thread someone posted about second hand instruments - the French Horn player) has just auditioned for the LSSO. It's an intensive programme that runs in the school holidays.

Things may have changed since I was at school, about six thousand years ago, but in my school there certainly wasn't anything like the 'music programme' you hear about in US schools. It would be very rare for an individual school to have its own band to the standard of something like Langham Creek (although they look pretty big, so perhaps they're made up of kids from lots of different schools? I don't know), although you might find that kind of standard in the district-run services as described above.

Possibly as a result of all this, community music is very alive and well in the UK. Many decently sized towns have a concert band - which is usually either a brass band or a symphonic wind band. Some of them are of an extremely high standard (others not so much!), and some of these organisations are big enough to have training bands, up through which young players can move to join the main band. When you get into the bigger towns and cities, you'll find several. London has absolutely tons of them, from symphonic wind bands to amateur orchestras to chamber ensembles to the London gay Big Band. They're usually run as charitable concerns and members pay a sub to belong to them, which pays for the running costs. I really like them; I think community music is very important.

cwm

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Thanks for the clarification!

Yeah, we do have a great music program in schools, and in my city we did have the youth symphony programs, but we're sadly lacking in community music. There's the symphony, but that's actually professional musicians, and very hard to get into. Then there are a few various civic bands, but they're the people who can't get into the symphony and still want to be professional musicians. I don't have the time for that. Rehearsals are for several hours a week, and the music they play is very nearly on par with the symphony. I'm not at that level, and honestly I don't want to put in that much work for the return of the stress of being told it's not good enough. I'd like a real small community band, just to get together for fun and do high school level music, but they don't exist.

And yes, I know that the director of the biggest community band/orchestra says that to his people on a regular basis. When I was in HS, my sister's flute teacher was a part of it and invited her on for a piece where they needed 2 piccolos and 2 flutes (oh! the horror!), and sis said that nothing was good enough. Her teacher was also in the symphony, and a lot of people in this band were alternates for the symphony at the time. She said she'd never audition for that group in her life, and wanted out as soon as the one concert was done.

perpetua

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Thanks for the clarification!

Yeah, we do have a great music program in schools, and in my city we did have the youth symphony programs, but we're sadly lacking in community music. There's the symphony, but that's actually professional musicians, and very hard to get into. Then there are a few various civic bands, but they're the people who can't get into the symphony and still want to be professional musicians. I don't have the time for that. Rehearsals are for several hours a week, and the music they play is very nearly on par with the symphony. I'm not at that level, and honestly I don't want to put in that much work for the return of the stress of being told it's not good enough. I'd like a real small community band, just to get together for fun and do high school level music, but they don't exist.


Oh, I know what you mean. I did a few rehearsals with a community band of a very high standard, like the civic bands you describe, and while the music was great, I didn't enjoy it one bit. They were all a bit up themselves and snooty; I far prefer  the one I play with regularly, which isn't as good technically but the people are lovely and we have a laugh and all feel very invested in it. I get far more out of that than I ever would out of something very professional. The kind of bands you'd enjoy are all over the place in the UK and I'm very glad about that!

Saw this in another thread: Black Friday. It's a completely mindboggling concept. We don't have it (because we don't do Thanksgiving, I guess) but we do get to see news clips of people queueing up for hours outside stores and then barging in like they're running the 100m sprint when the doors open and fighting over stuff. I really don't get it: people risking injury to get 50 bucks off something they probably don't need in the first place.

The closest we get to it are the after-Xmas sales - which used to be "January Sales" but now start on Boxing Day - and you probably want to avoid the high street around that time if you don't like crowds or queueing at the checkout for ages, but you generally don't see anything like the frenzy that you see on Black Friday.

Lynn2000

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One thing I kept thinking about was the comment in the original article from, I think, someone in Russia, who found it difficult to understand Americans' high level of charitable giving. S/he said that in Russia, if people saw someone giving to a charity like that, they would think the person was either being scammed, or was somehow acting in their own best interest but in a convoluted way. (I'm paraphrasing from memory, so I hope I've rendered it accurately.)

That kind of made me feel good, since a lot of the things on the list were kind of negative about America. I have heard before that we have one of the highest rates of charitable giving in the world, and I think that's great. Of course there are still ways for people to be rude about it or to do it foolishly, but I feel like it's a positive attribute, at least.
~Lynn2000

Katana_Geldar

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That might be a relic of communism. You had to look after your own interests as no one else would.

MurPl1

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Thanks for the clarification!

Yeah, we do have a great music program in schools, and in my city we did have the youth symphony programs, but we're sadly lacking in community music. There's the symphony, but that's actually professional musicians, and very hard to get into. Then there are a few various civic bands, but they're the people who can't get into the symphony and still want to be professional musicians. I don't have the time for that. Rehearsals are for several hours a week, and the music they play is very nearly on par with the symphony. I'm not at that level, and honestly I don't want to put in that much work for the return of the stress of being told it's not good enough. I'd like a real small community band, just to get together for fun and do high school level music, but they don't exist.


...

Saw this in another thread: Black Friday. It's a completely mindboggling concept. We don't have it (because we don't do Thanksgiving, I guess) but we do get to see news clips of people queueing up for hours outside stores and then barging in like they're running the 100m sprint when the doors open and fighting over stuff. I really don't get it: people risking injury to get 50 bucks off something they probably don't need in the first place.

The closest we get to it are the after-Xmas sales - which used to be "January Sales" but now start on Boxing Day - and you probably want to avoid the high street around that time if you don't like crowds or queueing at the checkout for ages, but you generally don't see anything like the frenzy that you see on Black Friday.

It mind-boggles many of us here in the US too.  And to be honest, it's only gotten so crazy in probably the last 15-20 yrs.  I remember my husband's niece and her mom making plans to go out in the morning after Thanksgiving about then and the rest of us thinking that was over the top.  And that was pretty rare in our circle. 

DH and I did "Black Friday" one year.  Only because we were building a new house and we were able to get 20% off a washer, dryer and fridge.  That was worth it to me to get up at 5AM.   

Elfmama

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The closest we get to it are the after-Xmas sales - which used to be "January Sales" but now start on Boxing Day - and you probably want to avoid the high street around that time if you don't like crowds or queueing at the checkout for ages, but you generally don't see anything like the frenzy that you see on Black Friday.
Part of the frenzy is that people are looking for bargains for Xmas gifts.  Since your Boxing Day sales are immediately afterward, there isn't the impetus of "MUST GET XBOX FOR KIDS!!!!!!!"
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MommyPenguin

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Thanks for the clarification!

Yeah, we do have a great music program in schools, and in my city we did have the youth symphony programs, but we're sadly lacking in community music. There's the symphony, but that's actually professional musicians, and very hard to get into. Then there are a few various civic bands, but they're the people who can't get into the symphony and still want to be professional musicians. I don't have the time for that. Rehearsals are for several hours a week, and the music they play is very nearly on par with the symphony. I'm not at that level, and honestly I don't want to put in that much work for the return of the stress of being told it's not good enough. I'd like a real small community band, just to get together for fun and do high school level music, but they don't exist.


...

Saw this in another thread: Black Friday. It's a completely mindboggling concept. We don't have it (because we don't do Thanksgiving, I guess) but we do get to see news clips of people queueing up for hours outside stores and then barging in like they're running the 100m sprint when the doors open and fighting over stuff. I really don't get it: people risking injury to get 50 bucks off something they probably don't need in the first place.

The closest we get to it are the after-Xmas sales - which used to be "January Sales" but now start on Boxing Day - and you probably want to avoid the high street around that time if you don't like crowds or queueing at the checkout for ages, but you generally don't see anything like the frenzy that you see on Black Friday.

It mind-boggles many of us here in the US too.  And to be honest, it's only gotten so crazy in probably the last 15-20 yrs.  I remember my husband's niece and her mom making plans to go out in the morning after Thanksgiving about then and the rest of us thinking that was over the top.  And that was pretty rare in our circle. 

DH and I did "Black Friday" one year.  Only because we were building a new house and we were able to get 20% off a washer, dryer and fridge.  That was worth it to me to get up at 5AM.

I remember being a kid or maybe a teenager (so maybe the 90s?) watching a news story about it on TV, and being really confused about why people were shopping for Christmas already and what they were fighting over.  So I know it had at least started in some places by the 90s.  I'm not sure that it had gotten so bad with people waking up super early and pushing into each other, but it was at least about stores opening somewhat early and people doing shopping in the morning.

My husband likes to do Black Friday sometimes.  He's talked about making a bit of money by bringing one of those giant jugs of hot chocolate and selling it to people waiting in line.  :)  Sometimes he'll go out Thanksgiving night.  Usually he's being computer-ish stuff, hard drives and disks and things like that.  Never any of the really big ticket items that sell out, like laptops or TVs.  With buying normal stuff, you often have to wait in line, but you don't have to worry too much about being first through.  The last couple of years, a lot of retailers will go through the line and give tickets for any of the really big, limited items, like TVs or laptops.  They'll start at the front of the line, ask the #1 person if they wanted any of those items, and if they did, then they'll give them a ticket.  They move down the line until they run out of tickets, representing that they've run out of items.  Then there's less need for people to push each other as they go into the store, because they already have their ticket, so they know they'll get their item.  If there's fighting in line, they'll generally send all fighters to the end, unless non-involved people around speak up and tell them who started it, so that minimizes inducement to cut in line.

I'll go out on Black Friday sometimes, too, but I won't stand in line ahead of time.  I'll arrive when they open (sometimes the line is still pouring in, so I have to wait briefly as people walk in, but that's not long) and get what I need.  The last few years I really haven't had anything I'm interested in.  LEGOs rarely go on much of a sale.  <sigh>