I am not one to normally be outspoken or to get on a soapbox to teach, preach or rant. In fact, unless I have a strong opinion on a particular subject, I usually avoid contributing to emotional debates or instances where conflicts could occur. Even posting my thoughts on a blog for all to see, even if they are rather ordinary, makes me feel uncomfortable. However, since arriving to Costa Rica, I have been stepping out of my comfort zone, away from familiarity, security, and certainty. I do this only in the quest for personal growth and development. So, for my next uncomfortable step, I am going to rant about the nature of the “American culture”. Yet, rather than write about it in a shouting, wild and obnoxious way, I am going to simply write in a less dramatic, impassionate manner. I will call it “a Megan rant”.

What is American culture? If I were asked this question two months ago, while I was living in Florida, answers would come easily to mind… I would automatically describe cultural aspects of the United States. Yet, now that I have spent the last six weeks traveling, enjoying, and learning about Costa Rica, I have begun to wonder why the term “American Culture” is reserved for and intended to refer only to the culture of the United States. Are the people of Costa Rica, as well as the citizens of other Central and South American countries not worthy of being included in the term “American”?

The Uruguayan journalist, Eduardo Galeano, wrote, “For the world today, America is just the United States; the region we inhabit is a sub-America, a second-class America of nebulous identity”. This is a sad notion to consider. Now that I am aware of the misuse of this common phrase, I felt the need to share these thoughts. It is something we need to reflect upon and make what small changes we can!

Before coming to Costa Rica, I was told to say, as part of an introduction, “soy Americana”, or that I am American. After being corrected on this matter by some Ticos, and giving it much thought, I now correctly say “soy estadounidense”.

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