“Most Americans aren’t in good physical condition because they don’t exercise enough.”
“No matter how unhealthy it maybe be, Americans love fast food.”
“Who do you think is healthier: Americans or Ukrainians?”
If you haven’t guessed it already, this is material I have to teach. At first I laughed a bit. Now, I find myself getting angry. The amount of America-bashing this country does gets really frustrating, especially when my classes answer the question of who is healthier.
Of course the entire world classifies the U.S. as a group of overweight and lazy pigs, and sure, there are plenty of those back home, but come on – do not try and tell me you are a healthier country when you’re munching on potatoes and fatty meat and kicking it back with beer or vodka! And, please, don’t get me started on salo!
The other day, a student asked me in English, “Brooke, do you eat lard?”
Lard? I responded by saying, “Do you mean to ask if I eat salo?”
Yes! Salo is what he meant, and it is a word commonly translated into English as lard. Remember that little party we had where we tasted salo and was told repeatedly how HEALTHY it is? Are you laughing a little now?
Not only this, but we have plenty of conversations about McDonald’s and fast food. I’ll admit it – I love McDonald’s. I love the greasy, salty combination of a double cheeseburger and fries washed back with a Coke Light. The funny thing here is that all my students will say how unhealthy and disgusting McD’s is, but when I ask them how often they eat there they often respond with a “once a week.” And this brings me to my next point: They freaking love McD’s over here!
I finally decided to break my McD’s ban (it had been over 4 months since the last) and experience it Ukrainian style. Actually, I quite think McD’s in other countries is just as much a cultural experience as sightseeing. For example, the style, class, and menu of such establishments has to change slightly in order to do well in other cultures. By seeing how this establishment alters itself in different circumstances is really interesting to me!
So, I went to McD’s, and in typical Ukrainian fashion, I had to wait in line. I had to wait in line because the place was so busy! I don’t think I really need to say more.
Again, I’d like to touch on the fat American stereotype again. It is true that we have some pudge in our waistline. It seems that when I look at photos from back home and people my age, they do seem to have a little more meat on their bones than the youngsters around these parts. However, the girls, and guys, here are impeccably thin – almost to a level where I wonder how much they actually eat. Then, I also find it interesting that the older women are the exact opposite! You never see a thin babushka out on the street. What happens?
I guess I’m just venting a little bit because I constantly have to bite my tongue in class. Actually, I do not mind that America is known as the fat country of the world. What I do mind, however, is having to push the stereotype even further. A country full of people using mayonnaise as salad dressing and eating lard is no healthier (no matter how they look physically) than one pulling up to the drive-thru window everyday. If there is one thing I have learned during my time in Ukraine it is this: Ukraine is really just like America in the health aspect because we both have people on all sides of the spectrum.