Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tak, Annarella!

I have a Danish "friend" living in the US who reads my blog from time to time and she always gives me a great perspective on things from "the other side" and this week is no different. Her comment on my post "Big Mac, Anyone" was AWESOME and gave me a great idea that I need your help with!

I have just decided that I am going to do a "What do you need to know about the US before October 1" blurb with my "Seattle Kids" every time I teach them between now and our departure. I was already telling them random facts about life in the US and names for things as I thought of them, but now I want it to be more organized..... So they can make some notes to take with them.

Annarella (my Danish "electronic friend" who lives in Seattle) already gave me 2 things for the list:
1. Tipping Protocol in the US


2. Sales Tax--because in DK, the 25% sales tax is already on the price tags of things so you what you see, is what you pay.

So now I need your help this week..
If you had a foreign student coming to live with you for a few months, what "lessons" would you teach them so that life in the US could be as simple as possible for them?

Seattle, here we come!!!!!!!!!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

watch out! Although Seattle seemed to be very cycling/walking friendly, it is still the US and cars rule the road. Look both ways and don't assume the car will stop for you to cross.

Also, did you teach them the art of small talk? My German students feared going to the US and having to chat with the cashier, salesperson, etc.

My rules:
the weather is always safe
be positive ("Yes, seattle is lovely" even if it has been raining for 2 weeks)
smile (or at least don't frown)
keep it short

nbg

ladyfi said...

What a great idea!

HOLMES said...

Prepare them for how recklessly a lot of people drive-- Seattle may be a bike-friendly city (which usually indicates the city's other residents have some driving sense) but the road rage can be shocking, especially for pedestrians. The level of horn-honking and middle-fingering is stunning.

Are there bidets in DK? There really aren't in the US.

Do stores in DK have Folger's cans to help burn victims/sick people etc at the checkout? Prepare them for that.

nettielouise said...

They need to be aware about credit card apps in stores. If they go clothing shopping or anything, they are likely to be asked if they want to sign up for a credit card.

Nina Ø said...

I ditto to warm them how aggressively American drive. When my cousin came to visit in '08 she would not sit in the front seat.

I emailed a professor at the IT University who studied in America when young and Kasper had this to say:
"There are such thing as a drinking laws, and you as high school student might not be able to buy beer at all. And alcohol in general is sold through special liquor stores – which is really strange to many students. Tell about the really strange system regarding the prices in a shop is not what you have to pay at the counter – tax is added afterwards – most peculiar system.

Then there is the difference in greetings – most danes are able to recognize a “how are you” as not a question, but a greeting. But also “Where are you from” is not always a question, but a politeness. Same with “So how is Denmark” - the right answer is “Not too bad, perhaps a bit rainy”, the wrong answer is to start telling about how Denmark is...."


I forgot all about drinking laws Kelli. I was raised in a Danish household in America and was drinking beer with my father from age 12. And take them to the Piroshki restaurant in Seattle. Awesome food. And supply them with all the comfort foods from Ballard. They are all available. And find them some beer. Danish and 16 and no beer. How awful.

PiNG aka Patti said...

If someone offers them pancakes, make sure they know it's a breakfast food and will be served with butter and maple syrup, not strawberries and whipped cream!

Annarella said...

Hehe what an honor to have a blog post dedicated to me. :-)

I don't agree on the mad drivers here in Seattle. It's a big city with lots of cars so of course it can be a little overwhelming, but it's not that bad. They don't honk more here than in Copenhagen. Cars often stop for me when I'm standing still on the sidewalk, even when I'm not at a crosswalk or even plan to cross. But watch out for the bicycles, they are fearless and don't care if they are on the sidewalk or the middle of the freeway; they go fast! Seattle brags about their many bicycle paths, which in most cases are nothing but white bikes painted on the middle of the busy streets. I have a bike but I'm scared to use it here.

I do agree on the smalltalk. Get used to it, everybody here wants to know how you're doing! I still don't understand why they ask, they don't care anyways, they just want a tip.

I think maybe the single most important thing to teach your students is about alcohol. Normally when Danish high school students go abroad they learn about the age limit, not because they want to find out if they can drink or not, but to find out what age to fake. The only problem can be to get alcohol, they can never get in trouble in Europe for drinking anywhere. They need to know how it's a lot more serious here, and that the age limit is 21! And that you can get in real trouble if you give alcohol to minors, and that even adults will get a ticket for drinking a beer in a park or on the street. This can be hard to understand for a Dane. Telling a Dane he can't drink in public is like telling an American he can't own a gun - a very sensitive matter. :-)

What else to learn about Seattle?... Well, Americans used to be really bad at recycling, but over the last few years a lot have changed, at least in Washington, and now it is even easier to recycle here than in Denmark. See, in Denmark you have to sort everything in in different bins. Carry your newspapers to the recycled newspaper container, sort all your bottles and cans, and carry some of them to the store to sell, and throw the rest in the trash! Danes are very proud of their recycling habits but not many Danes recycle very much after all (unless they can get cash for it)
Well in Seattle you just have a garbage bin and a recycle bin. In the recycle bin you put all your plastic and glass bottles, all sorts of paper, cans, tins and aluminum foil, and then THEY will magically sort it for you. Oh, and to encourage people to actually recycle, garbage containers that contain more than 10 percent of recyclables or recycling bins with any garbage in them, will not get picked up. Very motivating. There is also food and yard waste bins. That is where you put your fast food leftovers WITH plate and fork. Because on July 1 2010, Seattle became the first city in the nation where all single-use service ware must be either compostable or recyclable. :-) At Safeco Field (the 47,116 seat baseball stadium) there are only 17 garbage cans! So, teach your students to recycle. It's so easy here :-)

Annarella said...

Hehe what an honor to have a blog post dedicated to me. :-)

I don't agree on the mad drivers here in Seattle. It's a big city with lots of cars and it can be overwhelming but it's really not that bad. Cars often stop for me when I'm standing still on the sidewalk, even when I'm not at a crosswalk or even plan to cross. But watch out for the bicycles, they are fearless and don't care if they are on the sidewalk or the middle of the freeway; they go fast! Seattle brags about their many bicycle paths, which in most cases are nothing but white bikes painted on the middle of the busy streets. I have a bike but I'm scared to use it here.

I do agree on the smalltalk. Get used to it, everybody here wants to know how you're doing! I still don't understand why they ask, they don't care anyways, they just want a tip.

I think maybe the single most important thing to teach your students is about alcohol. Normally when Danish high school students go abroad they learn about the age limit, not because they want to find out if they can drink or not, but to find out what age to fake. The only problem can be to get alcohol, they can never get in trouble in Europe for drinking anywhere. They need to know how it's a lot more serious here, and that the age limit is 21! And that you can get in real trouble if you give alcohol to minors, and that even adults will get a ticket for drinking a beer in a park or on the street. This can be hard to understand for a Dane. Telling a Dane he can't drink in public is like telling an American he can't own a gun - a very sensitive matter. :-)

What else to learn about Seattle?... Well, Americans used to be really bad at recycling, but over the last few years a lot have changed, at least in Washington, and now it is even easier to recyce here than in Denmark. See, in Denmark you have to sort everything in in different bins. Carry your newspapers to the recycled newspaper container, sort all your bottles and cans, and carry some of them to the store to sell, and throw the rest in the trash! Danes are very proud of their recycling habits but not many Danes recycle very much after all (unless they can get cash for it)
Well in Seattle you just have a garbage bin and a recycle bin. In the recycle bin you put all your plastic and glass bottles, all sorts of paper, cans, tins and aluminum foil, and then THEY will magically sort it for you. Oh, and to encourage people to actually recycle, garbage containers that contain more than 10 percent of recyclables or recycling bins with any garbage in them, will not get picked up. Very motivating. There is also food and yard waste bins. That is where you put your fast food lefter overs WITH plate and fork. Because on July 1 2010, Seattle became the first city in the nation where all single-use service ware must be either compostable or recyclable. :-) At Safeco Field (the 47,116 seat baseball stadium) there are only 17 garbage cans! So, teach your students to recycle. It's so easy here :-)

Annarella said...

Hehe what an honor to have a blog post dedicated to me. :-)

I don't agree on the mad drivers here in Seattle. It's a big city with lots of cars and it can be overwhelming but it's really not that bad. Cars often stop for me when I'm standing still on the sidewalk, even when I'm not at a crosswalk or even plan to cross. But watch out for the bicycles, they are fearless and don't care if they are on the sidewalk or the middle of the freeway; they go fast! Seattle brags about their many bicycle paths, which in most cases are nothing but white bikes painted on the middle of the busy streets. I have a bike but I'm scared to use it here.

I do agree on the smalltalk. Get used to it, everybody here wants to know how you're doing! I still don't understand why they ask, they don't care anyways, they just want a tip.

I think maybe the single most important thing to teach your students is about alcohol. Normally when Danish high school students go abroad they learn about the age limit, not because they want to find out if they can drink or not, but to find out what age to fake. The only problem can be to get alcohol, they can never get in trouble in Europe for drinking anywhere. They need to know how it's a lot more serious here, and that the age limit is 21! And that you can get in real trouble if you give alcohol to minors, and that even adults will get a ticket for drinking a beer in a park or on the street. This can be hard to understand for a Dane. Telling a Dane he can't drink in public is like telling an American he can't own a gun - a very sensitive matter. :-)

Annarella said...

Argh, every time I try to post, I get an error. Something about a too long url. Wonder if it is because of these links:

metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/area_maps/regional.html

tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U

Annarella said...

What else to learn about Seattle?... Well, Americans used to be really bad at recycling, but over the last few years a lot have changed, at least in Washington, and now it is even easier to recycle here than in Denmark. See, in Denmark you have to sort everything in in different bins. Carry your newspapers to the recycled newspaper container, sort all your bottles and cans, and carry some of them to the store to sell, and throw the rest in the trash! Danes are very proud of their recycling habits but not many Danes recycle very much after all (unless they can get cash for it)
Well in Seattle you just have a garbage bin and a recycle bin. In the recycle bin you put all your plastic and glass bottles, all sorts of paper, cans, tins and aluminum foil, and then THEY will magically sort it for you. Oh, and to encourage people to actually recycle, garbage containers that contain more than 10 percent of recyclables or recycling bins with any garbage in them, will not get picked up. Very motivating. There is also food and yard waste bins. That is where you put your fast food lefter overs WITH plate and fork. Because on July 1 2010, Seattle became the first city in the nation where all single-use service ware must be either compostable or recyclable. :-) At Safeco Field (the 47,116 seat baseball stadium) there are only 17 garbage cans! So, teach your students to recycle. It's so easy here :-)

Annarella said...

Your students will probably need to take a bus, ferry or trail/rail while they are here. Public transportation is not as big here as in Denmark, but it works okay. One great thing is that you can take your bike on the bus (they have bike racks on the front).
It can be a little confusing at first what to pay for a trip, but really, it is a lot simpler than in Denmark. There are only 2 zones: Withing Seattle city limits, and outside Seattle city limits. (Dark and light grey on this map:) http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/area_maps/regional.html
If you cross the city limits you pay for 2 zones, otherwise you pay for just one. When you enter the bus, there is a sign saying either $2.00 or $2.25 depending time of day. If it says $2.00 that is for 1-2 zones. If it says $2.25, then it is $2.25 for one zone and $2.75 for 2 zones. If you are 6-18 years of age, you pay 75 cents no matter time of day or number of zones. Always carry quarters, as they only take exact money. If all you have is a 5 dollar bill, they will take it but can't give you back change.
If you want to take the bus to downtown, you pay as you enter. If you enter the bus downtown you pay as you leave. If you travel from one side of Seattle to the other, and go through downtown, you pay as you enter, make sure you get a transfer slip, and show that as you exit. And don't forget to say thank you to the driver. :-)
To plan your trip, go to http://tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U it is like rejseplanen.dk but not as good. But your students are smart, they will figure it out. They can also read about fares if what I said is too confusing.

Annarella said...

Oh, and do bring a light rain coat to take with you everywhere. It only rains once a year here in Seattle: from September through March. :-) Depending on the area you are in, it can be heavy showers or just a little morning mist. often it goes from rain to shine to rain to shine withing a few hours, so always carry you raincoat. Bring only an umbrella if you want to stand out as a tourist.

If you need to visit the Danish consulate while you are here, in case someone looses his passport or something, drive a car with a gps and go during the day or bring a good flashlight. He lives out on Mercer Island. Far, far out of a windy road with big trees on both sides, and can be really hard to find.

These are some of the things I think will be nice for you and the students to know, if I think of more, I'll add it later.