Cultures are complicated, especially when you grow up with some definitions and you go to a new place where everything is seen or done differently. Cultures differ through the meanings they give to the same things all cultures encounter. When I first came to SU I was certain that my integration in this new culture was easy. It wasn’t until one night I hung out with my American friends that I realized I am not used to this environment yet. First, people at the party went crazy for alcohol, like it was some sort of gold mine. And people had as much as possible, as if the more they drank the more fun they would have. In Puerto Rico, where I come from, having a beer or a drink is just a way to socialize and come together. Getting f*cked up and throwing up is not what we call a perfect night. Another thing that shocked me was that this random guy asked my friend to dance. She said no, and I asked her why? Puerto Ricans love dancing, almost any kind of music, it’s just fun and expressive… later that she explained it to me: “Saying that I would go dance with him immediately answers another question, that I would be sleeping him tonight.” Left with my jaw open, I couldn’t believe this and decided to see if this was true. I danced with a girl for a while, after a few songs I decided to leave with my friends to our dorm and she was asking if she could come with me. I was terrified. Not because a girl wanted to go home with me, but because this meaning of dancing wasn’t the one I was taught. It’s been polluted (I thought to myself). After that night I realized, I’m living in a new country, and day by day I will get to know the American culture better, but for now, I’ll kick back in my couch listening to salsa remembering the good times in the bars where I would dance with girls, no bed attached.
By Ricardo Marti