At my farewell party, I had received a flag with which I should take pictures of things to be determined by the dancing association. The next one was "something typical for Houghton". But since this is my first time in the United States, it's hard to see the difference between things typical US and typical Houghton.

So here are some things that caught my attention, some of which I am sure are not Houghton-specific.


The first thing is of course the enormous amount of snow we get here. I've only seen a small part of it, but that was already impressive. So I made a picture of the flag in what I thought was the last bit of snow (I later found that there still are huge heaps elsewhere).


As I wrote before, I was impressed by how huge Walmart is. Not a chance that this is Houghton-only, of course, but I took a picture anyway, and this seems like a good place to show it.

This is the view from the entrance (well, from an entrance). To the left of this picture is the (slightly smaller) food department. This mostly shows non-food. The wall on the back right is not the end of the store; behind it is the outdoor and gardening departement.

Greek stuff

But of course snow isn't that special, and Walmart is very American, but not Houghton. So what else? What I have spent some time and questions trying to understand, are the greek fraternities and sororities. (I don't think the people in Greece are aware of them.) Those words make me think of monastries, but that's not what they are about. These are houses owned by student associations. The members are living in it. They don't have a particularly good reputation, I think. It's a bit comparable to what would be a Vindicathuis in Groningen. (Also in the sense that the members seem to be very proud to be members.) For some unknown reason, they all name themselves using three Greek letters. The photo below shows the house of "Sigma Phi Epsilon", as can be seen for those who can read the Greek alphabet in big letters on the wall. And I suppose because many Americans can't read the Greek alphabet, they've written it in latin script on the display in front of the house.

But fraternities and sororities are certainly not special for Houghton: some of them proudly claim to be national organizations (national, worldwide and universal are synonymous in the US, by the way).


So on to the next attempt at something typically Houghton. The photo above is also an example of a road of average steepness around here. But of course there are many more places where that happens. So that's not what I chose either.


Then perhaps it is the rules they have everywhere? They have signs on everything here about what you are not allowed to do. On the trash containers in my street are signs that non-residents are not allowed to throw trash in them. As if non-residents would just happen to walk all the way up this hill, with a bag of trash, just to throw it in this container... Ok, Americans would drive. But they're not going to do that either. No need to put a sign there.

Also, every parking place, no matter how far away and unused, has a sign saying you are not allowed to park without a permit. I think this is not to regulate the availability of parking places, as it would be in the Netherlands. Rather, it seems to be the American way of working: we paid for making these parking places, so we want that money back. So far so good. But then: to make sure nobody pays for it without using it, everybody who wants to park there must have a permit. It seems that only pay for the things you use is something that Americans value a lot, and they're willing to put up with a lot of problems just to be fair on that front.

But obviously this is a very American thing, not a Houghton thing. So it's not what I chose to make a picture of for this purpose. What is?

Michigan Tech

The answer should be obvious, really. Houghton is a village with about half its population consisting of students. If anybody who isn't from there knows about the place, it will almost certainly be because they have had something to do with the university. So below is the photo of me with the one and only typical Houghton thing: Michigan Technological University.

Oh and I've added a comment box below, which you can use to leave comments. If you like, you can also leave comments with earlier articles. You cannot edit or remove a comment, so think before you post.



Friday February 16 2018 17:09:30


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