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Old 07-25-2014, 05:13 PM
 
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Firstly, I am not from the US; I am from New Zealand. I am absolutely fascinated by your country and have been since I was very young. Soon I will get the opportunity to visit the US. My main question is in the title: Would a foreign visitor get a good idea of American culture from visiting one state?

I know every state has it's own distinct culture (e.g. Arizona shares very few similarities with Maine) but there are certain states that are very similar in culture (e.g. New Hampshire and Vermont are very similar). When I eventually visit I want to experience American culture but I am unsure whether or not going to a distinctive state would show me a different side to the US. I imagine a Thanksgiving in Maryland is very different to one in New Mexico.

The issue is that I am really set on visiting somewhere on the West Coast (Oregon to be exact) and I want to experience Americana to its full but also be in a location that I would feel comfortable in. For example, I believe Texas is the epitome of America yet I wouldn't be comfortable living there for a year because of the weather and the politics. I would feel out of place.

But back to the main question: do you think it's possible for a foreigner to experience classic American culture by spending time in one state?

I am sorry if this is incoherent in places but I am extremely tired and cannot express myself as eloquently as I usually can!

Thanks,
Jon
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Old 07-25-2014, 05:38 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,451,125 times
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If you can do only one state, do California.

There are politically liberal and conservative areas. World-class cities, small towns, ranch country, ghost towns. Vast deserts, ancient redwood forests, palm trees, a variety of beaches, hills, islands, valleys, mountains. There are places with Victorian-era, midcentury modern, or contemporary architecture. Huge agricultural presence. Every type of weather, extremely diverse culturally and ethnically. It's so vast that few natives have even seen everything the state has to offer.
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Old 07-25-2014, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
5,302 posts, read 8,102,022 times
Reputation: 2136
I've got to agree with the above post. California is the state to go. Has everything-American and foreign. You can get a real "American feel" in places like Orange County and San Diego, which offer some of the best weather and beaches in the country. If you want something more world-class, Los Angeles and San Francisco will offer you more diversity and culture. And there are plenty of places in nature to enjoy. Big Sur and Monterey in NorCal, deserts and Mediterranean-esque valleys for hiking in SoCal, and mountains along the entire state.

If you can't go to California, New York would be best...because you can see anything and everything in New York City. That said, not much else to do in New York State. Upstate New York is beautiful and great for nature, but may be too cold to really enjoy the experience if you'll be there in winter. And places like Albany and Buffalo are very lackluster.
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:33 PM
 
Location: Mid Atlantic USA
12,335 posts, read 10,318,327 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Lambert View Post
Firstly, I am not from the US; I am from New Zealand. I am absolutely fascinated by your country and have been since I was very young. Soon I will get the opportunity to visit the US. My main question is in the title: Would a foreign visitor get a good idea of American culture from visiting one state?

I know every state has it's own distinct culture (e.g. Arizona shares very few similarities with Maine) but there are certain states that are very similar in culture (e.g. New Hampshire and Vermont are very similar). When I eventually visit I want to experience American culture but I am unsure whether or not going to a distinctive state would show me a different side to the US. I imagine a Thanksgiving in Maryland is very different to one in New Mexico.

The issue is that I am really set on visiting somewhere on the West Coast (Oregon to be exact) and I want to experience Americana to its full but also be in a location that I would feel comfortable in. For example, I believe Texas is the epitome of America yet I wouldn't be comfortable living there for a year because of the weather and the politics. I would feel out of place.

But back to the main question: do you think it's possible for a foreigner to experience classic American culture by spending time in one state?

I am sorry if this is incoherent in places but I am extremely tired and cannot express myself as eloquently as I usually can!

Thanks,
Jon

It would be very difficult. America is not a very unified nation the last decade or so. It has become more like 50 independent republics.
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:12 PM
 
Location: Illinois
596 posts, read 651,683 times
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California, if you could only go to one state. Chicago, if you could only go to one city.
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:14 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
11,145 posts, read 14,132,244 times
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California would NOT be the best choice at all. California is too unique to be considered quintessentially American. If you want to get a quintessential vibe for American culture, you should visit Virgina/Maryland and see Washington, DC. California is still largely in development and is a newer state with far less history than the east coast. I'm not saying it's a bad place to visit by any means (it's good). But if you had only one place to go to that pretty much sums up America, I'd go to an east coast area. 73% of Americans live in the central/eastern half of the U.S. The West is still sort of the "new frontier."
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Old 07-25-2014, 09:08 PM
 
Location: 'Back in the midst of a world gone mad'
165 posts, read 151,429 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nep321 View Post
California would NOT be the best choice at all. California is too unique to be considered quintessentially American. If you want to get a quintessential vibe for American culture, you should visit Virgina/Maryland and see Washington, DC. California is still largely in development and is a newer state with far less history than the east coast. I'm not saying it's a bad place to visit by any means (it's good). But if you had only one place to go to that pretty much sums up America, I'd go to an east coast area. 73% of Americans live in the central/eastern half of the U.S. The West is still sort of the "new frontier."
Even choosing those areas wouldn't help, though I think it would be more representative to a degree. The US is just too large and diverse to try to narrow down to one state or one area even.

I love DC, and I think it is highly under-rated. For someone coming to the US for the first time though, I would suggest NYC or San Francisco. Neither would be representative of America as a whole, but nowhere else would be either.
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Old 07-25-2014, 09:44 PM
 
Location: northern Vermont - previously NM, WA, & MA
9,434 posts, read 18,343,140 times
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Question to the OP; do you lean towards Oregon because it has similar characteristics in scenery and climate as New Zealand? If one were looking for that type of match I'd say BC in Canada. Even Vancouver and Auckland seem similar.

-If you are looking for well rounded Americana in a city then I would say go to Chicago.

-For an honest, historical, and storied kind of Americana experience within one state, I'd go with Pennsylvania.

-For the most diverse, stimulating, and worldly experience with a healthy dose of Americana within one state, gotta go with California.

If you think Texas rubs you the wrong way, open your mind to it, visit its cities and actually talk to the people (not hard to do, they are very extroverted) and I bet you'll surprised about how different you feel about the place.

Last edited by Desert_SW_77; 07-25-2014 at 10:04 PM..
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Old 07-25-2014, 09:48 PM
 
12,698 posts, read 10,518,901 times
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I don't think so. But if you must, your best bet is to stray from large cities and stick to smaller cities or smaller towns, if possible - suburban or rural areas. Cities often have immigrants, tourists, and just a lot going on. Heading out from the cities will give you more of an everyday American feel.

As you said, states have their own cultures. Visiting another state, especially one hours away, can be like visiting another country. I was just in Texas and I really enjoyed it, but was not used to so much country music and men wearing cowboy hats (I thought those were stereotypes - guess not). I was also not used to the gun culture prevalent there, or how openly religious it seemed - a lot of crosses and angels sold in stores, with religious sayings. I didn't mind any of it (again: I really enjoyed Texas), but it is certainly not like that in NJ.
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:04 AM
 
3,147 posts, read 2,942,704 times
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Realistically, any state would work. They are all different, but in a way, all the same as well. Pick one that has things you want to see. Your suggestion of Oregon is a very good pick, it has cities, attractions, rural small towns, etc... and it is very beautiful. It is also home to rain forests which are rare in this country.


There is another thread about which region best typifies American culture, there is a pretty consistent consensus that it is the Midwest. If you made your home base somewhere like Chicago, Indianapolis, or St. Louis... you would be pretty central in the country and withing a couple hours to a day of A LOT of stuff.

I am sure that you will have a good time wherever you go, good luck on your trip.
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