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The Student News Site of St. Luke's School

The Sentinel

The Student News Site of St. Luke's School

The Sentinel

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Top Four Things You Might Not Realize About America


Before moving to North America, I thought to myself, I am about to enter a very close community with their jokes and habits. I worried I would not be able to integrate myself. I thought my experience would be similar to one of those American high school movies like Mean Girls or High School Musical. My classmates from Germany warned me that I was about to enter a ‘warzone.’ They said I would gain 10 kilos overnight, be wildly bullied, shoved into lockers, given a “wet willie,” and have a lockdown drill in case of a school shooter. Thankfully, their predictions were off, and I have yet to be shoved into a locker! 

Since moving from Germany, I have experienced some cultural shocks. Every country has unique customs and habits. From specific words they say to the clothes they wear, many little things are very different from other cultures. Here are a few things unique to the United States that I have noticed:


Food culture:

  1. The portion sizes in New York surprised me. The amount of food I was served in one plate could last me an entire week. 
  2. Waiters in restaurants check in on us way more than in Europe. You also get free refills, and the drinks are always iced. You are also usually offered free water at the beginning of your meals when out here in the US.
  3. The pasta here has a different texture than European pasta. It’s much softer than what I was used to.
  4. Everything revolves around food here! After-school clubs and meetings offer snacks, which I love.


  1. The cereal aisle in the supermarket is huge. It has every flavor you could imagine and sugar-free, low-calorie, high-calorie, and nut-free options. In Germany, you only have the full sugar option with no adaptations.
  2. The snack aisle has these “family packs.” They are immense and could probably last me months! In Germany, they were much smaller, and family packs were not a thing.
  3. In the refrigerated section, there are pre-made salad packs that come with seasoning and croutons in a bag and you can make your salad at home. This makes it so much easier! What I was used to was getting all the ingredients separately and then making the salad from scratch, usually resulting in a way bigger batch. 
  4. There is usually a person in charge of returning shopping carts to the store. In Europe, you are expected to put them back yourself. They have a lock which can only be opened by inserting a one euro coin. At the end of your visit, you have to lock the cart back in place and get your coin back. 


  1. In every school, there is a huge American flag right outside the building. 
  2. I learned that in some public schools, you are supposed to say a Pledge of Allegiance to America every day.
  3. People are very proud to be American, which is great. In no other country that I’ve lived in were people this proud about their culture!


  1. I was very excited to ride a yellow American school bus for the first time. They are everywhere on TV and are a staple of American culture. The buses in other countries are usually any other color. 
  2. Public transportation is uncommon here. I was used to walking around everywhere, hopping on trains, and taking the bus, but here that is difficult. There are almost no sidewalks and you have to drive everywhere. 
  3. Cars in America are enormous. The everyday car for an average American is the size of a truck compared to what I am used to. 
  4. The driving age here is sixteen. This is the coolest! In Germany, I would have had to wait until I was eighteen to be able to drive. The test scores that you have to get to pass are also very different. In Germany, you are supposed to have a 98% to be able to pass the driving test while here it is 70-85%.

Overall, my time in the United States has been unique and has taught me a lot about American culture. I have enjoyed some aspects of the culture while others took me a while to get used to.

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About the Contributor
Isabela Goulart Orsatti '25
Isabela is a junior and this is her first year at St. Luke's and her first year writing for the Sentinel. She is originally from Brazil, but for the last six years, she has lived in Germany. She loves writing about recent events and cultural relations! She would love to improve both her research and writing skills. Outside of school, she enjoys playing volleyball and listening to music.

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