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          Defining "American" to Argentines difficult, at best

          Zac Wilkins

          Issue date: 3/5/10 Section: Opinion
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          Many American TV programs, such as Los Simpson, are extremely popular in Argentina.
          Many American TV programs, such as Los Simpson, are extremely popular in Argentina.
          [Click to enlarge]
          Any given study abroad student is well aware of the fact that the residents of the country he or she is getting to know have specific sets of curiosities that compel them to ask (often repetitive) questions concerning their own country or the faraway foreign nation from which he or she hails. It´s interesting how media, government, and other influences give people in a nation a fairly uniform view of places beyond their borders, yet at the same time how much a culture - namely, American culture - permeates into even the least worldly of its population. In my own study abroad experience, I've found that it's important to note how strong the presence of American media, particularly movies, shows, books, and music, is in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires.

          One thing that has Argentines completely baffled and seeking answers is the concept of high school ¨popularity.¨ I'm often asked, are there really such strictly defined groups in schools, to the point that you're either a depressed geek or a fake cheerleader? Without exaggeration, almost every Argentine I've met is completely incredulous in regard to this extremely American phenomenon. I clumsily stumble when trying to provide the perfect response. Undoubtedly, to a certain extent the answer is yes, since this concept would never have surfaced if there wasn't at least some degree of truth. Yet clearly this reality has been exaggerated by television and movies. Perhaps certain schools have a more defined 'popularity hierarchy' than others, most likely certain parts of the country are different than others, and one's own outlook inevitably contributes to the perceived severity of these varied echelons of high school importance.

          Another popular topic is that of Greek life. Why is it Greek? Why not Roman, Russian, Italian? Ashamedly, I have quite the time attempting to answer this question, because although I have some knowledge of the Greek system, it's hard to explain to someone who's never even been on a college campus what they really are. The questions go on. What does each letter mean? Do the organizations stand for drinking and partying (which, unfortunately, I believe is a question that freshman frequently ask themselves when entering college)?
          Continued...
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          In This Issue

          News

          • Can you name this place?
          • CWRU receives record number of applications
          • Have you heard about Undergraduate Student Nursing Association
          • LGBT center slated to open in April
          • Make it count: a guide to the 2010 US Census
          • SEC considering proposals concerning Greek funding

          Sports

          • Baseball team-by-team preview
          • Questions float through AL Central
          • Seasons end with wins at Carnegie Mellon
          • Seasons end with wins at Carnegie Mellon
          • Softball team-by-team preview
          • Spartan Spotlight: John Smetona
          • Spartans return offense and gain depth
          • Students turn out for Hoop-A-Paluza
          • Will freshman-heavy team be able to improve on last year's 0-8?

          Fun Page

          • Crossword Solution
          • Killer Sudoku Solution
          • Sudoku Solutions

          Opinion

          • Children aren't reality TV spectacles
          • Defining "American" to Argentines difficult, at best
          • Editorial: A review of information accessibility
          • Revisiting Vietnam's legacy at Case Western Reserve
          • Urban farming in Cleveland: not far-fetched
          • What are you doing for Spring Break?

          Focus

          • Alternative resources showcased at Fair Trade and Secondhand Expo
          • CIA and CWRU students collaborate on iPhone game ChromaWaves
          • Dressing handsomely at CWRU
          • Poets slam at UPB Poetry Jam
          • Roller-rink musical Xanadu brings disco and inferno
          • Spouse hunting
          • Step up the drama with SEC
          • The Buzz
          • The Observer predicts this year's Academy Award winners
          • Three Eighths, Black, whalenapper to open for Minus the Bear at Springfest
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