I am ashamed to admit that I have encountered the problem that many Americans abroad face. It is a small problem that we have made for ourselves, and it really is quite ridiculous. This small problem is that I can't think in the metric system. The metric system is the system of measurement that most of the more intelligent nations in the world use. This system is used for measuring distance, quantity, and weight. The units of measurement for this system are for example the centimeter, kilometer, milliliter, liter, gram, and kilogram. Of course, there are other units such as the decogram and so on, but all of these fall into a nice and orderly system of multiples of ten. For example, 100 cm makes a meter, and 1000 meters makes a kilometer. These are nice and easy numbers to work with. This system makes the most sense because it is intuitive. If you need to know how many centimeters are in a km, you can easily slide some zeros around and you have the figure that you need.
The system of measurement we use in America is completely and totally different from this metric system. We do have some equivalents, but they are completely different measurements. For example, instead of centimeters we use inches. One inch is equal to 2.54 cm. When you have twelve inches, then you have a foot. And three feet equals a yard, which is somewhat simliar to a meter. Instead of kilometers we say miles, and one mile equals 1.6 km. The weight system is also different. We have ounces and pounds. 16 ounces is equal to one pound, and one pound equals 0.45 Kg. But wait, it gets better. Our liquid system is also different. Beer in Poland is usually sold in a half-liter container. However, we stupid Americans sell beer in bottles and cans that are 12 fluid ounces. We also use an ounce for both liquids and solids, so that when you need to distinguish between the two you have to say 'fluid ounce' when talking about liquids and simply 'ounce' when talking about solids. So, that certainly does not make things easier because one fluid ounce is not the same as a dry or regular ounce. Our measurement of fluids adds up to different units of measurements such as cups, pints, and gallons. Such that 8 oz. (ounces) makes a cup and these cups add up to what we call a pint. However, There are 2 cups in a US fluid pint and 2.37 cups in a US dry pint, because it is different if you have a liquid or solid. From adding pints we end up at a thing called a gallon. Gallons are most common for milk, and one gallon is made up of 16 liquid cups. Gallons of milk contain a lot of liquid and most people only buy them if they really love milk or they have a large family with many children. I could go on and on about the finer details of the U.S. Standard system, but perhaps I should just ask this: Are you confused yet?
The non-sensical way that the U.S. Standard system is laid out means that American children spend a large amount of time having these units of measurement beaten into them by their teachers when they are young. I remember many a test on this subject during my time in Elementary School. Now, the good news is that Americans do learn the Metric System in school as well. However, we never use it outside of our science classes. So, most Americans know the Metric system is, but it does not have any real relevance to us. Such that when a Pole tells me that the store is only '2 km away'. I know what this means, that is 2000 meters, but it does not have any relevance to my brain. So, the situation I often find myself in is staring blankly and trying to calculate out the difference between the U.S. Standard System and the Metric System. So, thanks for nothing America! Thank you for using an old and out-dated measurement system that, rumor has it, was based off the measurement of some English Queen's foot back in the 18th or 19th century. If we ever have a vote to change to the Metric System I will be at the polls so fast it would make your head spin!
Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan David was raised by his parents with his two sisters and brother.