A List of Things I Didn’t Know Existed Before Moving to the United States

Not All That Foreign is a biweekly column about life as an international Yalie by Irene Colombo (BF ’25).  

As the Yale Health nurse came back with my diagnosis on Saturday morning, I could not help but start thinking about the many things that I had no idea existed before coming to this country. This list has been underway for almost a week, and the entries have been corroborated by several fellow internationals. I hope it will be relatable for many, and amusing to the rest. 

  1. Strep throat. No further explanation required. 
  2. In the same vein, nut allergies. No one in Italy is allergic to nuts. My research tells me it’s because we consume copious amounts of Nutella as children. 
  3. Oh, and rheumatoid arthritis. Every other commercial in this country seems to be about a rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Possible side effects include headaches, rashes, kidney failure, lung failure, and in extreme cases, death. 
  4. Trail mix. Probably my favorite thing on this list. Thank you, America. Also, read up on the history of trail mix. It’s strangely fascinating and controversial. 
  5. Brunch and the inexplicable hold it has on this country.
  6. Calling Philadelphia cream cheese “schmear.” I must admit that, for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on, it is quite fitting. 
  7. Wine in a bag. A recent addition to the list, courtesy of the Sigma Nu brothers.
  8. “Greek” life. 
  9. In honor of the mid-February recruiting craze: consulting. 
  10. Doggy bags. 
  11. Free refills. 
  12. Actually going to therapy. 
  13. Lavender lattes with almond-cashew hybrid milk and two pumps of vanilla in a biodegradable to-go cup.
  14. Pregames.
  15. Tailgating. A tradition that, according to my research, was born out of crowds of people gathering around the open back end of a pickup truck outside a stadium with food and cheap beer. A real pre-game. 
  16. Butternut squash. Now a substantial proportion of my weekly vegetable intake. By force, not by design. 
  17. Squash. The sport.
  18. Peeled eggs at the supermarket. I like to peel my own eggs.
  19. Trains that go slower than cars. This is just me complaining about the Metro North.
  20. Microwaves. Actually.

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