Americans, for the most part, are terribly ignorant, apathetic, and egocentric. Then again, that pretty much describes humanity as a whole :) Joking aside, America is simply so regionally diverse that it's hard to pin it down as a whole. For example, those of us on the West & East Coasts would be offended to be lumped in with those from the South & Midwest (we're not the ones who put Bush in the White House!). Furthermore, add in ethnic diversity, a vast range of education and income levels, and you see why it's so easy to always find some group to single out and target as portraying all of America. Just take President Bush for example. I've noticed many people from other countries often citing Bush and his policies as an example of what's wrong with America. And indeed, the fact that he is President is a sign that at least some things are wrong with our government (what country is perfect?). However, the fact is that his policies are as wildly unpopular here in America as they are elsewhere. Don't let the vocal minority fool you!
Ranting aside, I should probably make a more topic oriented contribution. The topic is cultural exchange, and I've seen many few posts sharing parts of their ethnic life, and thought I'd throw in a bit of a different take ;D I am a 2nd year Master's student studying at a research-oriented university, and I figured I'd share a little bit of the graduate school life, since it doesn't seem to be very well known (except by those of us in grad school, or who have done it of course!). First off, the most drastic change you notice compared to college is the emphasis on money. Everything becomes about money, namely what advisors will be willing to take you, what research you'll do, even what area you study! Another money related issue that you might have seen or heard about concerns food. Grad students are often penniless, or near about, so you'll often see us at any event with free food - whether or not the main event itself is of any interest is secondary (if you see anyone take off after they've eaten, that's us.) Another major aspect is the role of your advisor in your life. Think back to olden Master/Apprentice (maybe Master/Slave) relationships - that's what we have here. I have a friend whose advisor even makes her provide chauffeur service for him. Perhaps one of the more interesting parts of grad life occurs when conference deadlines approach. You'll never see so many completely exhausted grad students just completely out of it :D For the most part though, we're pretty much like normal college students (except that we're higher in the hierarchy! Advisor > Insurmountable wall > Grad students > Undergrads). So if you see your T.A. passing out in the middle of class, or with bags under his bloodshot eyes, wish him good luck on meeting his conference deadline :p
'It is better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied"
- John Stuart Mills