Tyler discusses gift giving and sharing cultures

Tyler discusses gift giving and sharing cultures


While traveling to another country individually I am aware I am almost like a window into another culture. I feel like I should share as much as I can with my host family about my own culture and lifestyle as possible. Just as I am learning about their culture and country, they are also doing the same.

In exchange for my host family giving me stay, food, and care I feel it would only be fair if I bought little gifts that represented by culture. I thought of things that would be easy to store and carry. Some of the things I purchased are 4 little key chains. Two of them are in the shape of the United States, one with the Statue of Liberty in the middle, the other with the Empire State Building. The other two have American bald eagles on the front; one simply says "USA" across the top, and the other says "Proud to be American." These 4 items all epitomize what the United States stands for.

The Empire State Building embodies American ingenuity and represents a phenomenal accomplishment in architecture, industry, and execution in technology. It was the focal point of one of the most advanced cultures in the most cosmopolitan city of one of the most powerful nations on earth. The structure was constructed during some of the hardest times the country had ever seen, and yet it still remained unchallenged in superiority for several decades. 

The Statue of Liberty represents many things, including friendship between nations and freedom from oppression. Ships used to sail into New York Harbor full of passengers, mostly full of immigrants traveling to the United States for the first time in search of better more prosperous lives. The Statue of Liberty would be one of the first sights many people would see as they sailed into their new home. She symbolizes freedom and hope. The United States offers an opportunity for people to choose their own paths in life and a chance to continue to move upward. It is a melting pot of different cultures and people. Nobody is truly "American" unless you are Native. Millions of Americans today are the offspring of immigrants. This is what makes the United States  the most unique place on earth. We may not be inherently the same but we all have the same blood running through our veins. We are people of instilled values, a people of multiple backgrounds and cultures but have one. This is what it means to be "proud to be American." We may come off too proud sometimes but it is something we cherish and embody as a nation. We are American!

All of the 4 key chains contain the colors and stripes and stars of the American flag. The white represents purity, the red represents hardiness and valor, and the blue is the color of the chief. The 50 stars represent the 50 states, and the 13 red and white stripes represent the 13 American colonies.

Spain is a country of rich culture and history. On its flag there are two pillars, white and gold, which represent the pillars of Hercules. In between the pillars is a crown which stands for the ruling of the Monarchy. The images in the shield below the royal crown represent the old kingdoms of Spain. The color red represents bravery and strength, while the yellow represents generosity. Spain's motto displayed on the banner, "Ultra Plus" in Latin means "more beyond." The Spanish were known for their traveling in the old days. The people of Spain were very adventurous and believed that there were always places not yet discovered and wanted to be the first to set foot on these places. It's thrilling to know I'll be traveling to a place where the people have a history of adventurous natures! 

One of the other gifts I purchased is a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal. Disney is a company well known throughout the world, and in my eyes is truly American in every way, shape, and form. Disney's amusement parks are huge and extravagant in size, especially Disney World in Orlando, Florida whose parks host thousands and thousands of tourists each day. Of all the people who attend these parks throughout the day wherever you look the place is spotless. No trash or litter or abandoned bags or belongings are found. It looks perfect, as if it had just opened. It's incredible how well kept the amusement park is, but like the saying goes, "cleanliness is next to godliness." All the workers are also very polite and nice, no matter the issue. They are nothing but smiles and laughter, which fits in so well with a scene that is full of music and parades and little kids running around in costumes with ice cream smeared all over their faces. I feel as though Disney is trying to create a positive atmosphere that is safe and happy,  implying, "the world is a perfect place" essentially. Of course no place on this planet is perfect. I think Disney epitomizes the United States and tries to spread its good nature across the world. It's a sanctuary to all ages. A child's balloon may pop and they could start to cry in the middle of the sidewalk, or one of  the most popular rides may be closed due to technical difficulties, but overall Disney wants to and tries to embody that "perfect place" for everybody; adults, children, teens, or elderly, even though it may not be sometimes. This is why I think it represents American culture so well.

On top of the Disney stuffed animal I also purchased an American eagle stuffed animal, which clearly represents American culture given the fact it's America's national animal. I also bought some American clothing. I'm from Connecticut, so naturally I wanted to bring something that represented my state. One of the most well known universities in my state is the University of Connecticut, so I bought a UConn Nike T-shirt. Along with that I also bought a "Norwich Free Academy" T- shirt from my own high school. I also purchased an iconic New York Yankees baseball hat, my favorite team of course, and a team USA 2016 Olympic soccer T-shirt because I know how infatuated the Spanish are with football. I'm also thinking of bringing some New York Giants apparel from my favorite American football team. I love football and so do many Americans. I think it's a huge part of our culture.

Lastly, I wanted to bring something that was universal. Food is liked by people of every age and given the fact I'm American it is something that my culture revolves around. I know from researching and watching foreign youtubers that cuisine is different wherever you go, including candy. Candy is also easy to store and bring places without smelling or going bad. And believe it or not, not many Europeans have even tasted American candy. I'm planning on bringing Hershey's bars, kit kats, twix, and a few more to add variety.
I hope to share as much as I can about my life and lifestyle as possible throughout this wonderful experience!