10 Things I Learned From Uncle Sam Part 2 (6-10)

This is a continuation from my previous post, 10 Things I Learned from Uncle Sam Part 1 (1-5)

6. Plastic baby! – My first few weeks in Singapore, I was always short on cash. That’s because in the US, I could survive weeks without withdrawing money – almost everything can be paid by debit/credit card! Yes, no matter how small the amount – you just swipe, swipe, swipe! You don’t even have to sign anything anymore in certain establishments as long as the amount is small.

Plastic plastic plastic!

Plastic plastic plastic!

I remember my first weekend in NYC. I met up a couple of my Xavier batch mates for dinner. The moment the bill came, they just threw their cards on the table, and I was the odd one counting my bills. After that, plastic became my best friend. It still amazes me how when I’m in a big group eating in a restaurant and when the bill comes, 8 credit cards just come flying to the table.

Henry & Mark - XS batch mates who took me out to my first night in NYC

Henry & Mark – XS batch mates who took me out to my first night in NYC

7. Do not stare – This one I learned particularly in NYC, which I believe is the most diverse city in the world. Every kind of person, you will see in the subway and in the streets of NYC. Hipsters, crazies, rockers, punk, gothic, monks, priests, big hairdos, people showing of too much skin, gay, straight, white, black, Asians, basically, recite the whole “Born This Way” rap part of Lady Gaga plus much more! And of course one new to this sea of interesting sights could not help but stare. Just like in Manila, I expected everyone to be staring but then I realize I was actually more strange because I was the only one doing it. Everyone there is so used to diversity that it’s as if the absence of a unique character around is the abnormal state.

Don't stare at me!

Don’t stare at me!

This subway art found in some of the carriages best summarizes the diversity. So for first timers, do not stare or risk being identified a newbie.

NYC Subway art by Sophie Blackall

NYC Subway art by Sophie Blackall

8. Survive without a bidet – Maybe it’s just the places I’ve been to, but I’ve rarely seen toilets sporting bidets in America. Even the high-class hotels I’ve been to don’t have them. One of my friends who visited me also complained about this. Of course I quickly decided that this must be another cultural thing. So what to conclude from this? Hmmmm…

9. Football – every time our team goes for drink in the local pub, the top 3 non-work topics would be Football – 60%, Baseball – 30%, Basketball – 5% and all others – 5%. Of course I have zero football or baseball knowledge and I’m part of the less than 10% of Filipinos who’s not interested in basketball. The only time I really got to contribute to a non-work conversation was when Ms. USA won over Ms. Philippines in the Ms. Universe pageant last year. Imagine what my boss would have thought!

You think they were talking about football?

You think they were talking about football?

10. Shopping – Lastly, what I really like and miss dearly about the US is shopping! I don’t know why but shopping in the US feels much much better than anywhere else I’ve been to. If shopping makes you happy, in the US, you’d feel 3x happier! Aside from the many selections, you also have outlets! Woodbury, Paramus, Grove City…they’re all shopping havens! Now that I’ve seen how cheap clothes are there, I swore never to buy in GAP, Banana Rep, Polo and other usually expensive American brands here in Asia. I’m just going to wait for my next trip to America! Time to buy a new wardrobe in October!


Photo credits:

Credit card – http://www.greatnorthernprepper.com

Ms. Universe – ph.sports.yahoo.com

Lady Gaga – http://www.fanpop.com

NYC subway art – isawthatsomewhere.com