Car Culture: Navigating a Very Big Car Culture Country

You guessed it. The USA has more cars any other country in the world. It has to. It’s a big country. And it’s spread out. American’s like their space and by gosh they invented moving thanks to Henry Ford who invented the Model T in 1908. By 956, President Eisenhower initiated construction of the Interstate Highway System. Today, with nearly 50 thousand miles of open road, America is second only China where the rubber hits the road.

Although the majority of the information we present about America is current at the time of writing, we’re living in unprecedentedly changing times. Culture is also dynamic and it seems that no topic demonstrate the better than moving and transportation. It’s at the heart of globalization and accounts for the dramatic increase in expat assignments. While it may not seem like Americans have fallen out of love with their cars, transportation is slowly taking on new directions, thanks to Millennial’s preferences.

According to industry reports, American driving is down because Millennials prefer to choose their mode of transportation, based on the kind of trip they are taking, unlike previous generations that would almost always take the car. Yes, they drive but they also take the bus, or walk or bike. You may live in a metropolitan area where you can see this for yourself. In the suburbs, perhaps not so much. What’s interesting about this for you as an expat is that in instances like this, you’ll identify (culturally) with their mindset. Like you, they take public or other means of transportation it because it’s cheap, green and a great way to get exercise. They particularly like it because it allows them to be on social media, safely. Expats are encouraged by this multimodal transportation trend because, as one exhausted expat put it, “America is a country designed for cars, not humans,” because it’s so big!

If you’re an expat now living in the suburbs, all that space without a lot of people filling up streets and sidewalks can make it feel like the loneliest place in the world. Everyone seems to drive everywhere to do everything. The consequence of that is an absence of people which may feel odd to you. Expats already feel like fish out of water, so we feel your pain point about it.

Even if you live in a metro area, the public transportation system is usually less than impressive so you’re forced to shop, run errands, and taking your kids to school, by car — alone. This is isolating, and, add to that, as we’ve written about in our 52 things series, there is no “city center” as meeting place. This make socializing tough. America’s car culture also reflects their “need for speed” and you’ll notice they “seem in a hurry”. If you live on the East coast, it’s downright frenetic.

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