Part II Reading Comprehension (Skimming and Scanning) (15 minutes)

A Few Aspects of American Life

It’s summertime. For many Americans, this is the season to travel. Why? Because school is over and the weather is great. And most of all, they believe they deserve a break. When americans take a break, they often head for their favorite vacation spot.

Throughout their history, Americans have been people on the move. The early immigrants had to travel to get to the New World. Once they arrived, the settled along the East Coast. But they weren’t content to stay here. Explorers and traders journeyed to the unknown western territories. Later, settlers moved west to develop new areas. As a result of this west movement, Americans eventually occupied the whole continent—from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Even today, Americans seem unable to stav put. Research says that average American moves every five years.

Americans are used to traveling. Some people make long-distance commuting to work daily. Their jobs may even require them to take frequent business trips. Most companies provide an annual vacation for their employees, and people often use that time to travel. Some people just visit friend or relatives in distant states. Some go on low-budget weekend trips and stay in economy motels. Those with more expensive tastes choose luxurious hotels. Camping out in the great outdoors appeals to adventurous types. Some travel in recreational vehicles to camp out in comfort, while others “rough it” by sleeping in tents. Families often plan their trips with the kids in mind. More and more “family friendly” hotels offer special programs for children.

Americans love pets. Many pet owners treat their pets as a part of the family. You might say Americans treat their pets like they treat their children—sometimes even better.

In America, there are more households with pets than those with children. At least 43 percent of US homes have pets of some sort. Usual creatures, such as mon keys, snakes and even wolves, find a home with some Americans. More common pets include fish, mice and birds. But the all-time favorites are cats and dogs, even at the White House. Americans sometimes have strong feelings about whether dogs or cats make better pets. “Dog people” and “cat people” often enjoy friendly competition.

Many grocery stores in America sell pet foods. Pets can even accompany their owners on vacation. Fancy hotels are beginning to accommodate both man and animal. Animal guests at Four Seasons Hotels can enjoy delicious meals served on fine china and sleep in soft beds.

The average American enjoys having pets around, and for good reason. Researchers have discovered that interacting with animals lowers a person’s blood pressure. Dogs can offer protection from rodders and unwelcome visitors. Cats can help rid the home of unwanted mice. Little creatures of all shapes and sizes can provide friendship and love. In many cases, having a pet prepares a young couple for the responsibilities of parenthood. Pets even encourage social relationships: they give their owners an appearance of friendliness, and they provide a good subject of conversation.

Pets are as basic to American culture as hot dogs or apple pie. To Americans, pets are not just property, but a part of the family.

“I do.” To Americans, these two words carry great meaning. They can even change your life, especially if you say them at your own wedding. Making wedding promises is like signing a contract. Now Americans don’t really think marriage is a business deal. But marriage is a serious business.

It all begins with engagement (婚约). Traditionally, a young man asks the father of his sweetheart for permission to marry her. If the father agrees, the man later proposes to her. Often he tries to surprise her by asking her to marry him in a romantic way.

Sometimes the couple just decides together that the time is right to get married. They may be engaged for weeks, months or even years. As the big approaches, bridal (新娘的) showers and bachelor’s parties provide many gifts. Today many couples also receive counseling during engagement. This prepares them for the challenges of married life.

At last it’s time for the wedding. Although most weddings follow long-held traditions, there’s still room for individualism. For example, the usual place for a wedding is in a church. But some people get married outdoors. A few even have the ceremony while skydiving or riding on horseback! The couple may invite hundreds of people or just a few close friends. They choose their own style of colors, decorations and music during the ceremony. But some things rarely change. The bride usually wears a beautiful, long white wedding dress. She traditionally wears “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue”. The groom (新郎) wears a formal suit. Relatives and close friends participate in the ceremony.

As the ceremony begins, the groom stands with the minister, facing the audience. Music signals the entrance of the beautiful bride. Nervously, the young couple repeats their promises. Traditionally, they promise to love each other “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”. But sometimes the couple composes their own promises. They give each other a gold ring as a symbol of their marriage promise. Finally the minister announces the big moment: “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss your bride!”

1. What is the top reason Americans travel in the summertime?
A) School is over.
B) They think they deserve a rest.
C) Summer is the season to travel.
D) The weather is great.

2. Every year, most companies _______.
A) require a business trip
B) insist that workers commute
C) have employees travel together
D) provide a vacation for workers

3. Many Americans treat their pets as _______.
A) very usual things
B) very common things
C) their own property
D) their family members

4. According to the passage, some fancy hotels could provide for your pets the following except _______.
A) good accommodation
B) some well-served food
C) a soft bed
D) delicious Chinese meals

5. It’s discovered that interaction with pet animals is good for health as they can help to _______.
A) guard against unwelcome visitors
B) catch unwanted mice
C) lower blood pressure
D) keep company

6. Pet can encourage social relationship by _______.
A) acting as basic element to American culture
B) providing a subject for chatting
C) becoming members for the family
D) having a friendly appearance

7. Traditionally, if a young man wants to get married to his girlfriend he is supposed to _______.
A) propose to his friend at the right time
B) ask his girlfriend to marry him in a romantic way
C) get the permission of his girlfriend’s mother
D) get the permission of his girlfriend’s father