California

So I touched down in San Jose last night for a work trip. It’s my second trip to the US in the last month, and the thing that’s struck me most is the fact that America is at once so foreign and so familiar. I’ll post over the next few days with some of my views on the US (including on the adverts, they’re fascinating), but today I’d like to talk about the issues which surround a country this size.

I mentioned this is my second trip to the US recently, and the first trip was to Alabama in the deep south. Maybe these two locations are a good opportunity to consider the dual-natured American culture, as San Jose is in one of the most liberal areas in the country, and Alabama is Alabama. In one, I as a non-driver was trapped in my hotel, in the other I can use pavements (or sidewalks) and public transport. In one, all I could find to eat was various kinds of things which were fried, in the other I can eat almost any cuisine I like.

But of the two, it’s Alabama which felt less foreign. Maybe it’s the flora – lots of evergreen trees and British-y plants as opposed to palms and faux-mexican architecture – but I really feel like Alabama is closer to the UK than California. A rural, somewhat conservative UK, but close nonetheless.

It’s almost a cliche to say that the UK and US are a country separated by a common language, but the same is almost more true of these two states. There is almost nothing else they have in common with one another – culture, ethnic diversity, and food are all so different. Maybe if I saw the more of the poor in both areas I’d would see more in common (travellers rarely see anything but the products of the rich) as, in England at least, commonality of culture is usually found among the working-class.

More to come.

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