I have never identified as “American.” I have always identified myself as a New Yorker, someone from the Crooklyn, Ecuadorian, a sneakerhead…but never as an American. Part of the reason, I think, is because I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood then went to college and faced what I thought was “American culture” aka white culture. I don’t know why I thought this given that I have always recognized how diverse the USA is.  I recently read a book on American culture that explained how Americans love to identify themselves from the region where they are and go on about how each part of the country is different. For example, the West is more laid back then the busy East Coast. The truth is, as I have come to realize through my interactions with Brazilians,  no matter what background you come from in the United States, some things we share are universal (for the most part).

“Americans don’t shower too much, they have a problem with time and need to know what they are doing, they don’t use perfume, and they are very direct.” These were the words of my Brazilian host mom as we laughed about it over lunch today. So many things that we do seem normal to us because we’ve done it repeatedly our whole lives. Living in another culture that is very different from your own helps you learn about yourself because what you once thought was normal back home isn’t here.  One of my most rewarding experiences in Ecuador and Brazil has been thinking about time in a radically different way. I no longer find myself needing to always be punctual or disappointed when an event doesn’t occur (Back at UVM, the calendar on my iphone dictated everything I did). Brazilians just aren’t slaves to time the way we are in America.

It’s all about living in the present and enjoying what you have now…take it easy mayne.