After being here for almost two weeks now, I have learned many simple things about daily life that you might not normally encounter in the United States, as well as some interesting stereotypes of Americans (and most usually have some truth to them):1. Always bring your own toilet paper and soap to the bathroom with you.
2. Don’t go and use the latrine at night- there might be cockroaches crawling around the 5”x3” rectangular hole…
3. Here, whether your milk is whole or skim is not based on taste or health preference, rather it is based on how much water you need to add to have enough for your whole family.
4. Sidewalks are NOT for pedestrians: beware of taxi vans pulling over and boda-boda’s (their version of a less powerful motorcycle) driving by.
5. Also, pedestrians never have the right-of-way and people do get hit by boda-boda’s.
6. Animals are for practical use, not pets.
7. Coffee may be a prominent export but is hardly seen. Tea is the preferred drink and usually made with milk and a lot of sugar.
8. East Africans do not eat many sweets- except in their drinks (namely tea and soda).
9. Portions at lunch and dinner are huge and very filling (I have not been able to eat all of my food even once and don’t think I’ve ever felt hungry since being here).
10. Brush your teeth when you bathe, otherwise you might not have a place to spit and end up swallowing the toothpaste.
11. Don’t use too much soap when washing clothes- you also have to rinse by hand…
12. Scrub clothes with the balls of your hands, not your fingers or knuckles because you can rub the skin off and they will scab over. Also, if your fingers are hurting, that’s probably a clue that you are doing it wrong rather than you just aren’t used to it…
13. “Mzungu” means white person and is commonly shouted at you as you walk down the street.
14. Young children are often unfamiliar with white skin and may try to rub it off or pinch you to see if your skin changes. They also like feeling your hair and trying to pull up your shirt to see if you are really white all over.
15. Africans tell each other apart by facial features, not hair like we primarily do, so they have trouble telling Mzungu apart but can often even determine another African’s tribal heritage from their features.
16. Plan on social events starting at least an hour late.
17. Ugandans are very clean and bathe at least twice a day usually. They also dress very “smart” as they call it, but basically very professional.
18. Americans really do tend to be louder as a group.
19. All Americans have boyfriends/girlfriends, or are searching for one.
20. Your status is a common question, and if you are single you have to define it in terms of whether you are searching, available, or content.
21. Americans have machines to do just about everything and don’t know how to do anything by hand- including making the bed, washing dishes, peeling potatoes, etc.