On Poetry and Culture Shock


One of the first surprises I had on my first few weeks at Cornell were waivers. There is an office that organises all sorts of activities for the foreign students, and when I went to sign up and pay a fee for the trip to Niagara Falls in September, I had to sign a waiver: a piece of paper saying that I join that activity under my own responsibility and that I would not sue Cornell University for anything that happened to me as a result of my participation. In plain English: I would not sue Cornell if I was injured during the trip.

OK, just fine. But I have to sign a different for every single activity. I’ve had to sign them even to go to a classic music concert.

Foreigners who see American TV shows get the impression that Americans would sue anyone, responsible or not, for any reason. Waivers suggest that American corporations are scared of that. I don’t think that waivers would be legal in Spain, especially in the case of individuals dealing with corporations.

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