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Goodbye New Jersey. Hello World! A record of my journey as I give up my job, my possessions, and life as I know it to go off and see the world!

The Things I Do and Do Not Miss From America

USA | Monday, 28 May 2012 | Views [11109] | Comments [3]

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!

(3) Tipping. 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 after you.

(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 home.

(5) 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 would think.

(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 home.

(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.

(8) Patriotism. 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 proud.

(9) My family/friends. An obvious one, but I had to put it.

Top Things I Do Not Miss From America (or specifically New Jersey)

(1)Prices displayed 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.

(4) Pennies. 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.

(6) Tipping. 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 above.

(8) People 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.

I 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.



Hey Lauren,

Alicia here. Another great post, and I can agree with you on a lot of these! I have shared it with our Facebook travel community today as well. Check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/worldnomads

Happy travels!

  Alicia May 28, 2012 11:27 AM


Thanks for all the helpful information here. I learned a lot from reading it. Always looking forward for your next post.

  Cash For Car Jun 29, 2012 10:06 PM


You contradict yourself. Under the "don't like" list, 8 and 9 are contradictory. Make up your mind. High density, lack of space = public transportation, non driving culture. Vice versa. It's as simple as that. If you don't like crowds, why would you not like driving? People who detest high density living are the same people who embrace car culture.

America is the only place where you can live in a high density city like Boston and still afford a car (compared to other continents), due to low taxes and low gas prices. And tons of cities of different sizes to choose from to choose the lifestyle that you want. I miss home so much it hurts so bad.

  Tears in a bottle Mar 7, 2014 4:06 AM

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