The Experience of America…

I participated in Work and Travel program last summer (2005) and I went to Washington DC. It was my first experience in abroad. I worked for The Smithsonian Institution which gave me some important ideas about the work ethics of Americans, at least, the ones that I met. I can call it as a great experience as I believe that it contributed me a lot in terms of widening my perspective of the world. It helped me to get rid of some stereotypes that had been created by media and the society I live in. This experience gave me the chance to compare my own country and America which, of course, let me see some values of the both, which I have never thought of before.

As I study at the department of American Culture and Literature and have American professors, I can say that I was kind of prepared for some kind of cultural differences before I went to America so I did not have the so-called culture shock. However, I should also add that what you learn at school is always missing one dimension of the truth which you can only understand if you experience it in its own place. That was what happened to me.

To start with my working conditions, I should say that I found the people, especially general managers, rather professional. The first thing that I realized was their attitude towards the job that they are doing. Even the simplest thing was done with a great seriousness which I would rarely see in my own country if I compare the same kind of job.

I had the chance to meet different kind of people each of whom reflects a different kind of perspective of their country. Most of them were friendly to me. However, they were surprised when I say where I am from if they have ever heard the name of my country. I should confess that I was fascinated by some Americans’ ignorance for the rest of the world. These were mostly the ones who never set food outside of USA. Coming across with the question that “if we have any TV in Turkey” was the most obvious proof of my claim. Some of them were surprised when they realize what kind of education we, Turkish students, have as they found it rather comprehensive.

All in all, as I pointed out above, I think one of the most important contribution of this program to me was disproving some stereotypes such as not every American was nationalist etc. This program also helped me to gain a different perspective to look at my own country. How it is perceived and how close this idea is to the reality gave me a good sense of the importance of making judgments of a country in its own place.