Oh America, I miss how ridiculous you are! Today I wanted to honor you (sort of) by listing the most important things I have realized about you while living abroad.
1. California’s Image is Disproportionately America’s Image
The world’s image of the United States is largely centered around things that only exist in California. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, the music industry, LA fashion. When I am abroad and people tell me about their impressions of America they constantly (CONSTANTLY) cite Apple as an example of Americas ability to innovate and American female movie stars as examples of beauty.
2. Americas Obsession With Sex Is Ridiculously Disproportional to Its Sexual Tolerance
America craves sex! It is on practically every billboard, TV commercial and magazine cover. At the same time, America freaks out every time there is a nipple on Facebook or a Disney star wiggles her butt cheeks. The President has sex with his secretary? Impeach him! The gay community wants to have equal rights? Hate demonstrations! Meanwhile, Katy Perry releases another song about kissing a girl and a countless number of pornos are filmed in California.
3. America’s Roads Are Amazing
America’s highway system is clean, wide and almost entirely free to use. It covers tens of thousands of miles and is incredibly well maintained. The system has rest stops, designated view points and police to keep it safe. City streets vary but are generally in great condition, well labeled and easily findable on maps. When I travel abroad, I jump in the air leprechaun style on the rare occasions when I actually find the street sign I am looking for or pass down an entire street without the threat of death by pothole.
4. An Odd Amount of Foreigners Travel to Florida
“I have been to the United States!”,
“Oh yeah, where?”
I completely understand tourists going to New York City, Washington DC and San Francisco but I can’t wrap my head around the sheer amount of people who travel to Florida. (Washington DC isn’t even in a state and it is more American than Disney World.) Yes, Florida has Miami and Orlando but those places don’t represent the United States. Real American’s don’t even like Florida!
5. Americans Tip Incredibly High But Don’t Receive Proportional Service
It is well known that Americans are high tippers. My surprise came when I realized that although most other cultures don’t tip as high as our standard 15-20%, in mid-priced restaurants locals receive service that is nearly on par with restaurants in America. It seems to me that with the exception of the ultra high-end, we are paying more but not receiving more.
6. Europe Is Not Really More Diverse Than The United States
Europe has Swedes, Spaniards, Brits, the Irish and a whole bunch of other funny talking people. America has well… Swedes, Spaniards, Brits, the Irish as well as Mexicans, Canadians, French rednecks in the south, hippies on the west, pompous billionaires on the east and no one in the north. Europe certainly has more compartmentalized diversity than the United States but the US holds its own.
7. America’s Concert Scene Is Underrated by Americans
When an established artist or band like The Postal Service performs in the United States, they get crowds of maybe 10,000 people. When the same band (or similar) performs in other countries, they fill stadiums. In America, we have so many popular artists and venues that they become diluted. “Which of the 5 world class acts that are playing in town tonight would you like to see honey?” “None, let’s just watch something on Netflix.”
8. Most American Food Sucks… So We Make up for It With Huge Proportions
That patty on your hamburger tastes like cardboard? No problem! We’ll give you three and put bacon on it! Your pumpkin pie tastes like it is bulletproof? Don’t worry, we will make it the size of a car tire! Be it our artificially fattened turkeys on Thanksgiving or our genetically engineered fruit, what we can’t compete with on flavor, we compete with in sheer size.
9. Americans Are Quite Empathetic Relative to Other Cultures
Time and time again, I have had foreigners tell me that Americans are the most empathetic culture they know. When you grow up in a country where everyone is treated as entirely special, everyone starts caring more about individuals. When I travel, I always know I have spotted an American when someone stops walking in order to let a stranger take an uninterrupted photo. For some reason though, this empathy goes to hell when a war is involved. During those times, our behavior abroad is generally terrible.
10. America’s Level of Convenience Is Unprecedented (And Ridiculous)
Need something now? Just take your high-speed smartphone out of your pocket and order it via free same-day delivery with Amazon Prime. Need to go somewhere? Again take out your always present cell phone and decide between Zipcar, Uber, Lyft, Taximagic or plain old public transportation (the timetables update in realtime and optimal routing is automatic). Lost? Use your GPS navigate, it will speak to you! Tired? Take any number of energy drinks! Need to catch up with friends? Text message, Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, Google chat, Facebook chat, Instagram, Twitter, e-mail, Rando, WhatsApp or you know… just call.
Thanks America! I miss you a lot and look forward to learning more while I am away!
P.S. Did I just write a buzzfeed article? What is happening to me?! I blame the excitement of living in Saigon. :-p