However, watching adverts can prove to be a diversion in itself. You can learn a lot about a country that way. For example, I have deduced that many Americans are overly concerned with their weight. Every other advert is diet this or gastric band that. Every other show is Biggest Loser, How I lost Weight in One year, Help I'm Too Large. Or, if it's not about shedding weight, it's about suing somebody. I kid you not (to use an Americanism) in just three days, I've seen about fifty adverts calling on people to sue somebody. If you've been hit by a car, or slipped on a floor, or taken X medication and have an ingrown nail then call 1-800 SUE. If you think I'm exaggerating, dial that number and find out.
The adverts don't seem to have affected peoples' nature though. You would expect that with so much incitement to legal activity people would be more querulous. Still, I think I've met the most good natured people in America. I pass people on the corridor and instead of doing that furtive eye contact, look away quickly thing that people do in England, or hissing at you like we do in Nigeria, people smile and say hello. I'm not used to smiling at strangers or friends or even close family members.
However, this their friendliness can sometimes tend towards familiarity. At immigration, there was a nice jokey guy at the booth. How you doing today? How was your flight? He asked a few more questions, the answers to which his job required he know. How long are you staying? Where do you go to school in England? What are you studying? "History," I told him. Mr. Immigration officer replied, "History? Why you studying that? You won't get a job with History." If that wasn't enough he added, "You'll need to do a Masters to get a job unless you want to work in the university." I laughed. It was all meant in jest but really, it was a little unexpected for this immigration officer to be giving me career advice on the basis of a three minute meeting.
In other American news, I think I'm getting a warped view of the world from listening to the news here. It seems like only three things are happening: Maria Shriver, IMF guy and Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you don't know what I'm talking about, maybe you live in the real world. I just don't understand it. Even CNN that bastion and paragon of international news has succumbed to the dissection of Maria and Arnold's private life. How can the news anchor be asking me rhetorically, How would you feel if your husband cheated on you and got another woman pregnant at the same time that he got you pregnant? Is this CNN or Jerry Springer? I'm confused. Elsewhere in the world, revolutions might be happening, planes might be crashing, dictators might be tumbling and I'm stuck watching the nitty gritty of Arnold's affair. He's done a bad thing but for goodness sake, let him and his family deal with it in private. Too many panels of amebos have been convened over this issue.
This is not to say that I don't enjoy being in America. I love the place. I can stretch my hands without touching the ceiling, which is a vast improvement on England. I haven't slept so well in months. The cars are bigger, the roads are bigger. There's really nothing to complain about. I'm going to feel like Gulliver in Lilliput when I return to the U.K.
My exams went alright, we thank God. More on that at a later date... maybe.