July 4, 2008

10 Reasons Why I Love USA

I'm celebrating the Fourth of July here in Japan, writing this post and remembering the fireworks that I watched on San Francisco Bay. I can sing the Star-Spangled Burner without even listening to it. I wish I were American. When I was a child, I always wanted to go to the United States of America. That dream was realized and I'm still in love with you, USA.

This post is based on my own experiences and observations of people I met in the U.S. and Japan. Here are 10 reasons why I love the land of the free:

1. People praise each other a lot. They try to find positive aspects of people and things. In Japan, we are likely to criticize, focusing on downside and what's missing. Americans are less judgmental and more positive than Japanese.

2. People express their feelings with words. In Japan, many people tend to rely on nonverbal communication called "ishindenshin." I don't think that's enough. We have to say it out loud to let the other person know how we feel about him/her. We Japanese need to use more expressions like "Thank you," "Good job" and "I love you."

3. People are encouraged to try new things. What matters is to challenge yourself. Japanese tend to follow precedent, trying not to be new or different from the majority. In Japan, we feel pressure from the society to play expected roles, depending on our age and gender. You should not meet others' expectations but follow your heart because it's your life. In the U.S., I care less about my age, gender, and weight(oops!), which makes me happy.

4. People have their own opinions and are being specific. In Japan, when people are asked, "What do you think about it? " or "What do you want?" many of them simply answer, "I don't know." Being different means being original in the U.S., while many Japanese try to fit the the social norms. That is not exciting.

5. Americans strongly believe that they can make a difference to change the world. People, maybe not the government, have the power to solve problems, such as poverty and human rights violations. They discuss and work together to deal with the problems within and outside the U.S.

6. Houses are more spacious and streets are wider than those in Japan. Japan is overpopulated with a population of around 127 million in roughly the size of California. Almost everywhere is crowded in the cities. It's so stressful and I need more space!

7. I heard American business practices are 10 years ahead of Japan's. Japanese women still face glass ceiling and the situation is worse than in the U.S. According to The New York Times, "in 2005, women held 10.1 percent of managerial jobs, though Japan’s 27 million working women made up nearly half of its work force. By contrast, women held 42.5 percent of managerial jobs in the United States in 2005."

8. I love Hollywood. About 90% of movies and TV programs I currently watch are distributed from Hollywood. Japanese movies and TV shows are boring to me. Beverly Hills 90210 brought me to Los Angeles, seriously. I'm into HEROES now.

9. You guys have Abercrombie. Fortunately, I'm small as opposed to many Americans thanks to genes and healthy Japanese food. Abercrombie kids' XL is the just right size for me. Kids are less expensive and I can save $20 for a sweatshirt.

10. Americans don't have to spend a large amount of money and time for learning English. For an 1-hour-private lesson at an English conversation school, a Japanese student pays $80 or so. My college education and housing in the U.S. cost about a Mercedes and a Lexus. You are born to speak the world's standard language except those who immigrate to the U.S. and learn English as a second language.

No matter how difficult and frustrating it often gets when I speak English, to live in the U.S. is much happier for me than to live in my own country. Dear Americans, I just want to tell you that you are one of the most fortunate people in the world. You should be proud to be American. I'm so jealous of you guys!


Meghan said...

I loved reading this post! It made me realize that I shouldn't take advantage of my country.

Still, you should be proud to be Japanese too. Japanese are more considerate of other people's feelings and are more polite. I always feel welcome and even spoiled when I go to Japan! Japan and America are too great countries, right? (^_^)

Karen said...

Thanks for leaving such a profound comment. Having heard that we are more considerate of other people's feelings, I feel better about being Japanese. Yes, we are more polite. Good point, Meghan. I never thought of that(I don't know why).

Christy said...

I love this blog really...and this post was espcially nice! I like seeing contrasts between cultures.

ahhh...i don't know how to say the things i want to say because they might come off a little bit mean or sound like i'm trying to say your wrong...but I'm not...I guess I'm just going to comment on some of your reasons...

1. Sometimes American's praise each other TOO much. Especially in school and on kids sports teams, you ALWAYS have to say "oh that was sooo good!" so that self-esteem is built...while self-esteem is good and everything, it's gotten to the point where even constructive criticizim is seen as offensive. Sometimes Americans are tooo nice.

8. Hollywood. I like some of the movies that come out of there...a lot of American movies are really dumb though. It's sad because I really like movies. I haven't seen many Japanese movies (only like...two...Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru...because Matsumoto Jun is in it and Koizora...because I like Aragaki Yui too...) and they were really slow. I even found classic movies like Rashamon really boring!
I like japanese TV shows better than American ones. A lot of American shows just end up running for too long and then then get really boring and repetative.

10. Americans should have to learn more English. After paying so much money the japanese will probably know English better than most Americans! English is such a hard language, there are so many rules! In high school we spent weeks trying to figure out the proper way to say certain words and we still didn't figure it out entirely! College is seriously expensive for me too!

ummm...sorry that was so long! I like being an American (even if I don't agree with the things that America does...)and I'm happy for all of the opportunities I have. Japan a young country in the sense of being "worldly" and "modern" and I think in time things might change there....if enough people want it to change

Karen said...

Christy, thank you so much for your comment on this post! I can tell you are writing from your heart. It means a lot to me that Americans read my post and comment on it. I don't think you are saying I'm wrong at all. Actually, I was happy to see your comment because I love sharing thoughts. This is going to be so long that I decided to write a new post exclusively for you. Please check it out. :)

jen-chan said...

I really thank you for having this wonderful blog!

It's really eye-opening and informative :) Congratulations!

And the pictures, whoa! I cant help but feel that Ive been there with you seeing those stuffs and sceneries, they're breathtaking!

One thing more what drew me into reading your blog is your comparison and eastern and western culture, it is really sooooo eye-opening!

Thanks so much again for the wonderful blog, you bet that ill be viewing this regularly :)

Karen said...

Hi, jen-chan,

Thank you so much for leaving such a wonderful comment on my blog! I'm glad to hear that you liked my article and pictures because I love both writing and taking pictures.

I've been passionate about cross-cultural comparison since I was in college--I was majoring in Anthropology/Sociology. So your comment, using words like eye-opening, means a lot to me. Thanks!