In two months I will be
going back to the States for a visit for the first time in 2 years.
I have been inspired to write the things I do miss and don't miss
about my home. In my 2 years time I have backpacked through
Europe, bits of Asia, Australia and then came to live in New Zealand.
Some of these comparisons are more Australiasia specific but others
are world wide.
Top Things I Miss From
America (or specifically New Jersey)
(1) Normal, cheap,
black coffee. Particularly of
the Dunkin Donuts variety but I'll take those unlimited cups you get
at a diner as well. The cheapest coffee I can get in Australia/New
Zealand is about $3.50. If you think that's high go into a Starbucks
abroad. You'll have a heart attack.
(2) Cheap food,
massive portions. Yep, I am a
big fatty with my food. I miss IHOP pancakes that are as big as your
head. Pizza from the local pizzeria. Unlimited pasta at the Olive
Garden. Humongous slices of cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory.
And Mexican food!
In America waiters and waitresses make less than minimum wage. This
means they depend on tips. I don't necessarily agree with this
system, but it makes people work for it. Tipping leads to really
good customer service often. Yes, you will always encounter the odd
case of poor service but overall it leads to friendly people looking
(4) Cheap clothes,
cheap petrol, cheap food, etc. Taxes
are lower here than other parts of the world. And there are a lot of
resources. And a lot of people. If I hear another person from the
states complain about high gas prices I am going to lose it. Sorry,
you aren't going to convince this girl that pays $85 NZD to fill up
her car every time. I am going to go on a spending spree when I get
Not getting laughed/looked at weird at when I say words
like “tomato” or “basil”. I
work at a bakery and when we sell meat pies we are required to ask if
the customer wants tomato sauce with that. I stopped saying tomato
ages ago because of the looks and the teasing. Sure, I could easily
say it the “English” way but it sounds wrong. And I feel like a
traitor. I just can't do it dammit. In fact, it will be nice not to
be judged by accent because I know it still happens more than you
(6) Being able to
get away with speeding. I
know, this one is horrible! But it's true. Back at home I used to
go an average of 10 mph over the limit on highways, and at least 5
mph over the limit on back roads. I'm paranoid to speed abroad. So
many places have speed cameras to catch you. The same goes with
drinking and driving. Plus back at home it's easier to blend in with
other cars on a highway that are going just as fast as you. I am
ashamed to admit this but I would think nothing of having a few beers
and driving home in America. In New Zealand and Australia I would
absolutely not drive, even if I had a single drink. The cops
randomly stop people all the time to breath check them and they don't
need a reason. To be honest, I am glad I've experienced this because
it has made me think twice about driving under the influence back
(7) The Imperial
Measurement System. I'm used
to the metric system but I don't think it is ever going to be how I
naturally think. I am never going to get feet, inches, pounds, and
miles out of my head. And the same goes with Fahrenheit versus
Celsius. I totally understand how Celsius came about, and it does
make more sense than Fahrenheit. But when it's hot, the temperature
should be a high number. When it's cold it should be a low number.
30 degrees is never going to register as hot in my brain, no matter
how long it has been since I have been home.
I'm going to sound like a dork, but I do miss seeing that American
flag raised. A lot of people abroad have told me they don't like our
patriotism and find it silly. I don't mind it. I like that we are
family/friends. An obvious
one, but I had to put it.
Top Things I Do Not
Miss From America (or specifically New Jersey)
without the sales tax included.
Everywhere else in the world includes taxes with prices of things
for sale. It's nice to approach the cash register and know exactly
what you need to pay. It's just common sense. It almost feels like
a trick the way America does it.
(2) Paying to go to
a beach...or a lake....or
anywhere else that has a lifeguard present. I know that all beaches
in America don't charge, but the majority of the ones in New Jersey
do during the peak season. You have to pay even if you want to
just sit on the sand and not swim. I understand that this money goes
to lifeguards and keeping the beach clean, but we do we even really
need them? Can't we just look after ourselves ? Or perhaps just
have a few paid beaches with lifeguards so we have the option?
(3) No hitchhiking.
Many countries do not condone this activity anymore. This is
because there are crazy rapist/killers out there that have ruined it.
In New Zealand it is still common place and it's working fine. I
don't even usually hitchhike but I like knowing that I could if I
needed to. I love being in a place where it's safe and friendly
enough to do so.
In New Zealand and Australia they have eliminated 1 cent pieces and
5 cents as well in New Zealand. The only time you still might pay
cents is if you pay by card. Otherwise there is just rounding. It's
so much easier and you don't have a ridiculous amount of change in
your pocket. I heard that it costs more to make a penny now than
they are worth anyways.
(5) The “American
Bubble” as I like to call it. It
is very easy to live in the states and have no idea what is going on
anywhere else in the world. Except of course for all the drama going
on in the middle east. All of our mainstream TV, movies, and music
are all American. Most of the news is about American things. It's
interesting how everyone else in the world knows about America and
yet we could possibly know nothing about them. You really have to
make the effort to learn about the rest of the world sometimes.
I know I am contradicting myself here. But sometimes tipping really
sucks. Especially in a bar when the only service I am getting from
the bartender is a pour of a beer.
(7) Cheap medicine
and emergency health care. I
pay hardly anything for my birth control medicine in New Zealand. If
I were to get in a serious accident I wouldn't have to pay for that
care either. We all know that isn't the case in America. Especially
since I don't have insurance. Hmmm....guess there is a price to pay
with low taxes and the cheap food, petrol, etc that I mentioned
everywhere. This is a more
north-eastern specific thing because I know there are many empty
places in the United States. I don't miss rush hour traffic, beaches
covered with bodies, crowded Walmarts, etc. I think I am going to
have a panic attack when I fly into New York City. But, on the other
hand I think I am excited about it as well.
(9) Dependency on a
car. Unless you live in a
major city it really sucks not having a car. Even just going to the
supermarket can be a pain as you could wind up having to walk on a
major highway to get there. Oh and I don't miss the massive SUV's
everywhere and the people that don't know how to drive them. I am
going to laugh when I see the next Hummer.
(10) A ridiculously
low minimum wage that you cannot survive on.
love living abroad and sometimes it is frustrating. If anything I
have learned that the grass is always greener on the other side and
you can't have it all. I am not saying that it's better to live one
place or another. The nice thing is that I have had the opportunity
to experience both. The list for what I will and won't miss could go
on and on but it will be interesting to see what other things I will
miss from one place once I go to the next.