Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Large-scale confusion!

Last Friday was one of the longest days I had since I came here – although I am supposed to have no classes on Fridays! From 9 am, meetings and workshops followed one another, including an exhausting 4-hour workshop on SPSS that left my head spinning for the rest of the day. The last thing on my crazy agenda was a work group meeting that went from 6 to 8 pm, leading me to break my fast on the library’s exit stairs :)

But that day was one of the longest also in terms of the distance I walked. Those who know me would know that I’m not a big fan of walking. But when you study in a 21 km² campus, you do have to learn to love walking, or you will end up hating yourself! Of course I didn’t have to walk across all the 21 km², and will never have I guess/I hope XD, but I do have long walks though to go from a building to another (5 or 6 different places they were that day).
Talking about long and short walks, I always wonder why globalization only touched - and blatantly unified - important things like traditions, tastes and life styles - whole identities, but left out a few annoying things like the units of measurement in some countries like the United States!

Since the day I set foot here, I've been trying (not always hard though) to get the sense of what it means when somebody says that I have to walk “2 miles” to reach a place, or when they say that the university’s secondary campus in Detroit is 75 miles from East Lansing. Does that mean close or far? You will tell me that all I need to do is convert those units into meters and kilometers. Yes I can. But it’s really annoying – although funny sometimes – when you have to stop every time somebody describes a distance and ask yourself “Euuuh wait, does this mean that I can walk or should I take the bus?”

Weight and volume units are also misleading me here. When I go to the market, the prices posted simply don’t mean anything to me. What do I learn when I see that Goodrich’s sells apples for $3 lb, or green beans for $1.49 lb? Is that cheep or expensive? Euuuh and what does it mean to buy a 2-gallon milk bottle?

And I’d rather not talk about the weird numbers I would get if I try to know my weight or my height here. Oh and mind you, I’ve experienced 80-degrees hot days here … of course Fahrenheit not Celsius – otherwise I would have melted - literally!! (Ugh!!)

Anyway, I guess that this is part of that “adjustment” period all new comers here have to go through. I should probably start looking for, and concentrating on the bright side of things to be able to survive. Here at least, where I have trouble with units of measurements, all I need is time (and some quick brain calculations) until I get used to them. The bright side of it is that the risks I’m taking because of this (like walking a long distance instead of taking a bus) are nothing compared to a more serious (and not funny at all) risk I would have had if I were in England for example: getting hit by a car simply because I’m used to look to the right not to the left before I cross the road!!


Mr S said...

Quite a lesson for a big world learner. Indeed, the world is full of large scale confusions, but right now none of them is as big as the one i have trying to understand why that squirrel posed for your camera :p :p hmmmmm :) there must be something fishy there? :p :p

Kaoutar said...

Mrs S >>> :S
Iwa ma bqaw ghir squirels 7ta houma :D

Mr S said...

Malou squirrel mskiin :) Beau gosse :D

SABA said...

Loool :) i learnt that their S size is almost 40 here sometimes (and Gees it felt good to put an S finally :DD) and that I wear a 6/5 or 7 in my feet (36 or 37 local :))) next time bez, ask them directly: how much time walking? and how much driving, u'll know :))

Good luck dear!!