I have secretly fallen in love with Seattle in the past 3 weeks.
It may be because this is my first international visit, or it may be because I was so overwhelmed to be here or it may be because being in America is itself a big dream come true, but everything about the city has amazed me.
The people, the rules, roads, classes are amazing. Yes, even the idea of food banks and the existence of homelessness surprised me unfailingly.
There are many things that amazed me or surprised me or left me pondering. Here are the top 10:
1) Road-Rules:Thinking about Breaking them??? You Better NOT!!!
Coming from a place where jaywalking is so common, I never noticed what it actually means to wait on the road. In Nepal, we have long lines of traffic jams but I had never seen people waiting to cross in the road. We just jaywalk. But one of the most amazing things about Seattle is RULES. And that ‘Red-Lighted Hand’ and ‘Walk-Signal’ are given so much importance here, it’s amazing for me to see people wait to get the walk signal even when they do not have any vehicles around.
2) Thankfulness:- Thank-You! May be the MOST used word in Seattle.
I haven’t travelled the whole world (though travelling the world is on my wish list), so I may not know the culture of gratitude all around. But I definitely can say, Seattle must be one of the cities where THANKFULNESS is practiced so much. One will find people saying thank you to everyone. Yes! Everyone! They say thank you when they check out at the grocery store, when they get off the bus, everywhere.Thank you when needed to bus drivers, pedestrians, teachers, and random people is so common in this city.
3) Smiles:- Can you count trees in SEATTLE??? No. Nor can I count how many people smile back every day here!
Back home, I would be seen as a clown when I smile at random people. But Seattle is full of smiles. No matter where you are: stuck in an elevator, waiting in the grocery market, passing random people on the road, waiting for the bus….everyone just loves exchanging smiles here. This is another amazing thing which mesmerized me so much. Smiling is another reason which makes me fall for this place again and again.
4) Informal Class:-Seattle, where respect lies in accuracy, punctualityand hard work, not in the formality of random things.
Here, we call our instructors by their first name. Students can eat anything they want in class. Yes! They eat and I too have eaten during my lectures! Class is just so fun. May be this is why students out here enjoy being in class unlike Nepal where cutting class is comparatively high. But what sets it apart is, classes here are timely and un-disturbed. Though students are eating and chewing food, their full concentration is on the instructors. I got to realize that ‘Respect is measured by being on time and giving full concentration on what you are doing but not by calling your teacher Sir/Madam when they are within earshot and misbehaving the rest of the time’.
Americans are not WHITES only and Seattle is famous for having people from all around the world.This is amazing how a country can hold different cultures, belief systems, traditions, and perspectives perfectly. Most of the people I met in Seattle are from different parts of the world. I am amazed how the communication, tradition, culture, and perspectives all got their own space here.
6) Crowded Bus:
One most seeming similarity to Nepal in my observation was the public bus crowded with people. Here people like me from South Asia will perfectly understand what crowded means. The buses of Seattle get crowded and sometimes people have to actually stand all the long way to their home. Since they all give so much priority to ‘personal space,’ the scene inside the bus is not exactly like what I see in Nepal. People leave their seats to elderly people, they do not squeeze each other inside the bus, they stand in line. Still, the fact that one of the most developed cities in America, Seattle getting crowded with passengers in a public bus amazed me a lot.
7) Pets:-Pet Lover??? Come on, you will absolutely feel good seeing them treated well in this place.
Another amazing thing I saw in Seattle is the love for animals. They go for morning walks with their pets, they bring them in the street festival, they bring them in the restaurants. Dogs and cats walking with their owner can be seen often when you get out in Seattle.
Whoever like me (when I was back in Nepal) think America doesn’t have poverty or homeless people, they are so wrong. America does have homeless people. In fact I was so much surprised to learn that Seattle that has the largest homeless people in the whole USA. At the first time when I saw street people, I was so much surprised to see them. I never expected that I would see homeless people actually in America, at least not in Seattle. Seeing so many homeless people I got the shocking realization that even the richest of rich country is not free from the traces of poverty.
9) Food Banks:-One of the most novel thing I ever seen and heard about-Food Banks!
This is one of the noblest things I ever saw. Food banks are in so many places in Seattle. And homeless people and sometimes even people with homes but who cannot afford food come to the place and take food according to their interest. Those people actually can choose any food they need with no economic burden. Every food from white rice, cereals, vegetables, varieties of meat to bread, cookies, cakes, drinks…can be get in food bank. Those homeless people actually get to choose their food of their choice and can take home anything they want as per their need. Interesting and Amazing…isn’t it?? It again shows that even if the poverty persists in the society, with the help and effort from the government and other affluent members of the society we can at least provide relief to the affected people with such noble work if not complete alleviation of the poverty.
10) Americans aren’t Gangsters: Seriously, they aren’t!
Americans and especially people living in Seattle aren’t gangsters at all…After watching all the Hollywood movie, one is so obsessed with portraying American as gangsters and having guns. But they aren’t! I tell you and I know so many my other south-Asian friends staying here can relate this thing. They all are so good (Few can have guns and use in the wrong purpose). But remaining all others are so good.
These are the top 10 things which amazed me immensely. Experiencing a different lifestyle and culture was indeed a very valuable learning for me. The difference with my culture is stark and this learning will help me to appreciate the multiplicity of cultures and bring forth the good relationship among the different communities having poles apart cultures and live in harmony.