Monday, August 08, 2011

Tips for students studying in America*

I am always having to have this conversation with people.

People: But America is awesome!
Me: ...How?
People: I mean, New York is great!

Yeah no. New York is great. LA is great. San Francisco is great. [Insert the few major cities they have] is great. But that's 0.01% of America. What about the rest of America? Or.

People: But America is awesome!
Me: ...How?
People: Oh you live in Rochester, you wouldn't know.

Again false. Rochester is what's normal of America. Rochester is the equivalent of every other non-major city (EONMC) in America. I have spoken to my friends and relatives who go to school or work or live in EONMC in America, and it's exactly like Rochester. Michigan State in East Lansing. University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Yale in New Haven. Family in Hartford. Washington DC. Binghamton. Amherst. Western Conneticut. Maryland. Trust me, due to debate, I've traveled to more places in the region than anyone else, and newsflash: THEY ARE ALL LIVING IN ROCHESTER. Or I'm living where they are. Same thing, because America is a copy-and-paste country. You live in one area, you can live in all.

That could be good news, or that could be bad news. For me it's bad news. Because I require where I am living for the next FOUR YEARS to have its own identity, culture, flavor. I don't know what is America's identity, or culture, or flavor. If your only answer to me is baseball. Yeah I dunno.

So here goes my tips for students from any country, really, who will be living in EONMC America for the first time ever. Unless your country sounds like what I've described above. Then you probably live in America, and should really learn up the name of your country, as I'm sure that's the one thing your shitty school system has taught you.


(Also if you're living in the South or the Mid-West I recommend you go kill yourself to save yourself the horror.)

1. They don't use the metric system. Celcius, meter, kilogram, liter, everything that you know that was good and easy in your life: gone. Everything you've learned in all your school years. Gone. 100 degrees boiling point, 0 degrees melting point? Gone. Buying a liter of juice at the grocery store? Gone. In place is Fahrenheit (which is like wtf), feet (sigh), pound (prepare to become much heavier, as if the Americans need it. Maybe that's why they have obesity problems), ounce or whatever the fuck it is they use for liter - I didn't even bother. You could learn their ways or stick obstinately to what people use worldwide. The glorious metric system. Or you could master both and be better than them in one more way. I chose this.

I'll try to keep it short from now.

2. If you're from most of Asia, or the UK, or Australia, or Japan (which are where all the awesome countries are) or anywhere else in the blue range, then be prepared. They drive on the different side of the road. That means you are always, forever, going to try and get on the same side as the driver. Embarrassing, but if your driver finds your international ways endearing then it's pretty cute.

3. Different movie tastes. There are going to be some things that they go, "Omg you haven't seen this yet?!? You have to see this!" False. You don't have to see it. Not everyone knows or have heard of that show, and you won't ever need to.

4. Walmart/department shopping. You can get everything there. Be prepared to pretty much never ever visit individual stores again. Because there are almost none. They are just big chain stores or department stores where you can get everything. Prepare for department shopping. If you didn't like shopping at Parkson, or Tangs, or Isetan, then you're fucked. Okay there's Forever 21 and H&M, exceptionally awesome ones. That's about it. Buy all your clothes there.

5. Very, very low malls. They have one floor or two floors at most. It's weird, and honestly very unappealing. The way it's designed is a lot like the Tesco and Giant hypermarkets that we have. U-ge-leh. Their malls will all also look the same, whether you're in Rochester or Washington DC. You'll feel the same. Probably that's why they never leave their country. They like it that way.

6. Okay good thing for once. Amazon, Ebay, online shopping. Love it, use it, master it. It will be your best friend.

7. Count on things to be reasonably priced, at least not overpriced as some are in Asia, and actually work/quality is good. Because they aren't ridiculously marked up. Things like electronics and personal care items. Oh and vibrators. Basically things that are used by the masses. I come back and I frequently find myself going, "Bah, this is so much cheaper in America." However, some things may surprise you. Some electronics may be cheaper to buy here, but you can always hunt for bargains online.

8. For people who live in tropical countries and are going over to the East Coast/Norther regions, IT'S GOING TO BE MOTHERFUCKING COLD. BRING AS MANY LONG-SLEEVED CLOTHES AND PANTS AS YOU CAN FROM HOME. But buy your winter coats and jackets there, because refer to 7.

9. Oh, exchange and return. Guess what? YOU CAN DO THAT IN AMERICA. They make it so easy for you too. If you buy stuff online, they even have a postage stamp ready for you to send things back. God bless them for that. You get to save/not waste a lot of money in America, make full use of it.

10. People there will not know where you're from, so always bring a map with you, or memorize how to tell people where your country is located. Start with like, where England or Antartica is. For the smarter ones you can start with China. You will have to repeat it a zillion times, so you'll be pretty good at it by your like tenth American contact. Also do the Americans a favor, especially if your country is not as well-known on the international stage, and go, "YESSSS MALAYSIA IS ON THE LIST" everytime you see your country appear anywhere in the vision range of the Americans, because most of the time it just slips right past them. It'll help, really.

11. They will think they are the best country on earth. Let them believe that.

12. Ditto with things like freedom and hegemony. It's okay. We are laughing at them on the outside.

13. They will say the stupidest things about Obama, that you wonder why the fuck it even matters when he's doing so much good for their country. Try not to punch them. Unlike them, you have a visa to not lose. They don't even have a passport.

14. You can use your credit card for a lot of things. If at big chains like Taco Bell, you can use it to pay for 1 dollar purchases. Smaller stores require a 5 dollar minimum or so. But if you're at a big store you can count on using your credit card.

15. I don't know what else. A lot of things to watch on the television, if you're into that sort of thing. They will also try to make a reality TV show out of everything, like mobs' wives, or some shit like that.

16. Oh, you go bowling as entertainment. -_-

17. I've heard this from many, and I can testify. You generally just get shitty haircuts overseas. Which is weird because it's not like the people in America have bad hair or anything. Maybe a problem of perception. So cut your hair before you leave home, or anticipate to cut it when you go home. If you're a guy I don't know.

I suppose that's all I can think of for now. If anymore, I shall update the list.


Anonymous said...

Muahahaha.. I remember the whole Fahrenheit vs Celsius and the whole metric system thing when I was there! Have you tried telling them you want to park your car in the 'car-park'? (There are actually websites that are dedicated to this..Parking Lot vs Car Park.. go figure..)

Okay, for me, as in my generation, we were prepared for the whole driving on the wrong side of the road.

On no 3, yeah, I think remember this, I was there for nearly 8 years. Didn't think anything of it till u brought it up!

Yes, Wall*Mart, enough said. But seriously Parksons? I get Isetan and Tangs.. but Parksons?

Yes, I remember it being very very cold. Finally understood the term bone-chilling cold. Is Boston considered one of the (insert major city) to you? No? Okay maybe I was boring. Hey it was medicine, you really have to cram! And it was really really cold.

On no 10, wow u said it! I just basically gave up. Once this guy I dated said "Every red blooded American man knows where Thailand is" then he pointed to India on the map. Way to go genius. (Cos I had this brilliant idea of saying Malaysia is south of Thailand and North of Singapore, or in between this two countries. Nope that did not help either.

On no 11, Ahh.. somethings never change.

No 13, for me it was Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal. ermm.. I guess that's different.

I think this blog deserves lots of merit. Good on you! A straight-forward, no nonsense guide for Malaysians or Singaporeans intending to study there.

Treasure this moments. They will be the best of your life! :)

- Cat

d00d said...


redlomo said...

thank for great tips.. im enjoy reading u blog

adelynyeoh said...

hahaha this is actually really funny. i'm going to the States for freshmen year in JANUARY and i'll be in massachusetts which will be... motherfucking cold then. ughghghh.

add more places where you shop! :)

Priscilla-Needsahug said...

Awesome :DD

♀ [Jozefin] said...

Ahahaha. The reasons why I chose to come back to Malaysia. Being there for short periods are okay though. ;)
Just fly back whenever you get fed up. The hours of flying are worth it!

sunnyspider said...

Ouch man that's cold, way to generalize an entire country of so many different types of people. I saw your "how to get over a break up" post and I thought you were really funny, but you're pretty narrow minded. Maybe you just haven't met the right kind of Americans yet? Believe it or not, we're not all obese and ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Another University of Rochester student here and I couldn't agree with you more about the uniformity idea. I'm an American citizen but I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia and this is my first time living here and let me just say something:

Americans are retarded. Not at all of them, maybe not even a majority of them, but definitely enough to make it obvious that I do not want to live in this country. If I could get rid of my American passport and switch it for an Indonesian one, I would be so damn happy.

And I know Malay and Indo are slightly different but: Rochester dingin sekali holy shit aku mau pindah balik ke jakarta. Aku tidak suka pakai tiga baju kalau aku pergi ke kelas...

Also cool blog

Tommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tommy said...

Let's be honest, you live in Rochester, that's like Canada for us NYCer. And to be honest, as ignorant as this may sound, i've never heard of Rochester before crashing upon your blog. -.-

Love the sarcastic feel to the blog regardless, keep it up, you just earn yourself a fellow Malaysian New Yorker follower ;)

P.S. You guys actually go bowling for entertainment? Canadians... -.-'

Anonymous said...

...why don't you just stay in Asia???>:p

Anonymous said...

You are generalizing americans that's prejudice i live in the south. many of them do know about geography, and every other country do think they are they best. many americans dislike obama because some of his policies are hurting the country. stop generalizing and that was ignorant

David said...

Our President, Barrack Hussien Obama, has really done more to mess up this country than any other President.

The amount of debt he has plagued the United States with totals more than for ALL previous Presidents.

That and his love for socialist programs such as universal health care and income redistribution.

Need I say more?


Anonymous said...

If you're still in America, ask someone who has a life to take you out more often. Clearly you haven't met enough Americans & seen enough places. Like you said, America is mother effing huge. So this post is nothing but ignorance.

Have fun in the third world with your so amazing metric system La! ;)