There are many different rituals of transition that can be generalized for the U.S. as a whole. Two of the most important rituals of transition that I have noticed are marriage and the early education system.
Marriage is significant in anyone’s life because it demonstrates commitment and sharing your life with someone else. In some countries, arranged marriages are custom and the idea of marriage may be seen as an obligation, but in the U.S. it is a personal decision to get married. What appeals to me about the ritual of transition of marriage in the U.S. is that it’s flexible. Multiple types of marriage are accepted and the decision to get married at young or older ages is too. It is also acceptable to get married more than once after going through a divorce.
The early education system within the U.S. is another ritual of transition that I find to be important. Many public schools in the U.S. are set up for grades K-12 and split into three different schools: elementary, middle, and high school. Other countries still may separate schools, but only into primary and secondary school. The set-up of schools in the U.S. allows students to be grouped with others of the same maturity and academic level and transition to the next grouping of schools at a time when they’re ready. As a ritual of transition, I think that this one is extremely important and the way that it is set up at most public schools in the U.S. is beneficial for students when moving from one school to the next.
As someone who was born in Australia, but moved to the U.S., a lot of what my family does is based from traditions in Australia. In the U.S., after high school and college, graduation parties happen. It’s not unusual to have a big graduation party, its quite typical. However, in Australia, graduation parties really aren’t a thing. When I was graduating high school I thought it was strange to feel obligated to attend a bunch of grad parties, but I understood it was just something that happened in the U.S. I did not feel inclined to have one myself though because no one in my family did. My cousins back home did not have one, so I really did not see any point in me having one for myself.
Looking back now, I see that graduation parties as a way to have everyone together supporting the graduate. While I do understand the purpose of a grad party, I knew I didn’t want one because it wasn’t plausible for my extended family to attend.
Many parents in the U.S. also tend to hold their children back a year in school in order to give them an advantage in athletics or academics, but in Australia you can’t. I am young for my grade so it looks like I was pushed forward, but really many kids were just held back. Going through school I have had to deal with being the youngest person in my grade. When I was younger I didn’t really notice, however my perspective on my age in school has changed a bit as I am now a little disappointed because not only could I have been held back to accel at swimming, but every year in school I have felt behind; sometimes it would have been nice to feel ahead. This also has made me realize that it could have contributed to the reason I am taking 5 years to earn my bachelor’s degree. I came into college at 17 and didn’t turn 18 until late that year, so I think if I were held back and started college at 18, I would have known more of the path I wanted for college.
The idea of belonging-liminality-belonging lines up greatly with the example of the college experience. Not only is it a time when we move away from home and don’t have our parents around telling us what to do or how to do it, but it is also a time when we get to discover things on our own and make our own observations without a parent’s insight.
Many people see college as a one-time opportunity where you can have the most fun you’ll ever be able to have for four years straight. Therefore, a lot of drinking and drug use goes on, but it’s not necessarily culturally appropriate for both men and women participate in those equally. When women drink, it has to look classy and professional, but for men, it seems that the more they drink the better, or the more they’re accepted by society. For example, if you’re comparing two guys who are chugging alcohol, the one who can chug more alcohol is more likely to be seen as “cool” by the standards of other college students. For women, something like this would most likely never happen because women should not be chugging drinks, but drinking mixed drinks causally.
Explicitly, on college campuses, overall men are seen as predators while women are seen as prey. There are standards such as “girls shouldn’t be walking or ubering alone” or “girls should be completely covered when they’re dressed” so that they’re protected, but for guys it’s not “scandalous” to walk around without a shirt on alone if it’s a hot night.