Comments on visiting the United States
Some random observations on the United States.
Off to a bad start
Things looked good when I was met at the airport, taken to the Youth Hostel in Santa Monica by some acquaintances from anthro-l and had a nice hot dinner. But not only were there bed bugs in my dorm bed (scratch, scratch, scratch), but I got food poisoning! After a month in Indonesia worrying about the water but eating from all kinds of roadside stalls with no problems at all, the last thing I was expecting in the US was to get sick from the food.
The most suprising thing about the United States was how similar it was to Australia. Of course I didn't see that much of the US (and haven't seen than much of Australia, come to it) and having spent a month in Indonesia in between must have highlighted the similarities, but even so... I wasn't expecting the differences that sprang to mind to be the traffic directions and the orientations of light switches!
A lot of it is due to direct borrowing (from movies, books and so on) and some from shared history, but many things seem to have ended up the same as a result of convergent evolution in similar environments. I guess the explanation is that there is a World System and the United States and Australia are both solidly emplaced in its core, unlike Indonesia (or at least rural Java).