Culture Shock # 2: On-the-Go Eating


Americans love to eat "on the go."

With the rise of fast food restaurants and drive-thrus, we are a culture that eats while we walk, drive and work at our desk.

Once I was on a marshutka (public transport van) in Kiev, Ukraine. After standing in the aisle for 20 minutes of the journey, I finally was able to obtain one of the highly coveted seats. I sat down, pulled a granola bar out of my purse, and began to eat.

Everyone stared at me. I kept eating.

Everyone continued to stare at me.

Nick leaned over and whispered in my ear, "People don't eat in front of other people like that over here. It's rude. You didn't know that?"

I'm a stubborn person. I looked back up at him and took another deliberate bite out of my granola bar.

I whispered back to him, "I don't care."

OK. I was not being an example of someone who is a "guest" in this country and who is trying to be culturally-sensitive. But, I was being true to my American self.

A lot of cultures don't have the "eat on the go" mentality, and it is truly hard for them to understand why we don't have enough time to sit down at a table and eat a normal meal. Why, in the world, are we eating while riding on a marshutka?

The day before leaving for this trip, I was running errands all over the Yerevan and was STARVING. I finally bought a salad, and as I was walking around the center, started to eat my salad. People stared at me. I continued to eat. I thought...tomorrow, I'm leaving for America. I can let myself feel American one day early! Then, a man knocked my tabuleh salad out of my hand onto the floor of the post office. It was gone. And with it, the stares disappeared too.

October 22, 2010: My first full day back in America

I bought an apple at Target. I walked out the door and began my four block walk to the subway station. The whole way, I was biting into my juicy apple. Cars drove by, and no one noticed I was doing anything odd. People walked by, and didn't stare.

I was back in America! I can now eat wherever and whenever I want to. But, is that a good thing????

What do you think?