My Intercultural Communication Partners Program buddy is Vera Hinsey, a 20-year old American girl that loves playing rugby. We met on thursday, 9/15/2011, at my home and our meeting was from 3:15 pm to 4:45 pm.
Since it was the first time we spoke, it was an informal meeting where each of us said a little bit about herself (background information), like where we were born, what we are studying, how are families are, if we see them often,… Actually it seems to me that American students have a closer relationship with their relatives than Spanish students have. It is not my case, because I meet my whole family every weekend when I am in Valencia, but none of my friends has a such close relationship to their grandparents, oncles, aunts and cousins.
She asked me what I thought of Rutgers University and was surprised when I told her that it was like in movies, i.e. American Pie. In Spain we aren’t that university-patriotic. We don’t wear so many clothes saying the name of our school, and we definitely don´t put stickers in our cars to show where we had studied, something I have noticed here. We also discussed the differences existing between New Brunswick´s campuses and the ones in Valencia: location, type of buildings, nature, green zones, schedule,…
This lead us to talk about transportation and the differences in the use that exist between Europe and Spain. In my home country, universities don´t have a public transportation system like here. However, local public transportation works much better. I told her, for example, that it took me 40 minutes to get to a mall from here, and that there only is one bus every hour. Things like that are basic causes for the so extended car use in the US.
Another topic we discussed was traveling: where we have been, where we want to travel next,… We both have been to some countries of South America and Europe. This lead us to talk about languages: the ones we speak, the ones we understand, etc. We also commented some anecdotes that had happened to us when traveling because of linguistic missunderstandings.
Something that happened to me with Vera the previous day was that I found her on Facebook and saw that she was red-haired. An American friend of mine had taught me the word “ginger” when refering to red-haired cats and persons, and he did not mention any of the (despective) connotations that this word can have, so when I texted her I asked her whether she was ginger. She answered that yes, she was red-haired, so I asked my Australian appartment mate whether there were any differences between the adjectives red-haired and ginger. She immendiately told me that it was a despective word, so right after I met Vera in person I apologized for having used this adjective. However, she explained to me that it had been ok with her, because her hair is not that orange, but that some really orange-haired persons could get angry if I called them like that.