What you lack in the USA: people from all continents tell
Fresh lavash from the shop under the house, walks in the pine park by the lake, family holidays ... Longing for family, familiar tastes and worldview persists even after several years of living abroad. What expats and expats miss the most in the US - I asked my friends and colleagues from different countries and continents.
In the US, I am very surprised by people who wear pajamas or sportswear on the street. For me it is strange, because in Mongolia people dress well and are painted, even just going to the store. And here I lack the feeling of my own beauty. I always feel attractive in Mongolia, where my dark eyes and hair and high cheekbones are considered very beautiful. In addition, I do not understand the concept of small talk. Why talk about the weather? People ask you a question without waiting for a sincere answer. And people are constantly smiling.
The constant coldness in American offices is what annoys me the most. Inside buildings in summer, the air conditioning is so strong that you need a pair of warm socks - even if it's plus forty outside! Another thing I don't like is how easy it is to buy guns in the US. I think this needs to be better controlled, especially given the events of recent years.
Life in the US and Bhutan is hard to even compare. We are a very small country. For example, we do not have traffic lights, and the traffic is controlled by the police - with the help of whistles or hand movements. And to get higher education, you have to go to neighboring countries - Nepal or India. But we generally do not have violence, robbery, no one carries weapons, everywhere you feel safe. For example, you can leave some valuable thing at home and no one will take it. We respect each other, we are one nation.
In America, I miss my family the most. We always spent time together, especially on holidays. Also in the US, I do not understand the health care system at all. It is hard to believe that medicine is better in some developing countries.
On the subject: Personal experience: things that Americans cannot live without
Wherever you look in the US, there is junk food. Hence the health problems in humans. At the same time, medicine is very expensive. Just crazy, wildly expensive and confusing. So is car insurance.
In the US, what I miss most is the familiar flavors, cheap natural food. Although I like to try something new, I always ask my friends to bring me Georgian spices and herbs. At home everything was simple and clear, but here it was difficult for me to start getting used to the new banking system, transport, and healthcare from scratch. And bureaucracy complicates it, such as mailing checks. Also, I miss centimeters, meters, kilograms and kilometers, because my life has turned into mathematics - I constantly have to count when shopping or calculating the distance.
The short distances and accessibility of public transport to the most remote corners are what the United States lacks in comparison to Europe. I walked to work, to the store, for coffee, to a restaurant or to the park. Although Tirana is similar in size to Washington DC, this lifestyle is not always successful here. And even by car or public transport, I could very quickly find myself in another city, in the mountains or on the beach, or even in another country. I also really miss the Mediterranean Sea and that climate. No ocean beats this incredible view of the calm sea at sunrise or evening.
One thing that I miss very much in Uzbekistan and living outside the city is the feeling of community and trust in each other. At home, I could knock on the door of the neighbors, and they would feed me delicious food, because they know me, my mother and grandmother. In the United States, there is no such feeling of closeness with neighbors. Most of them can stop here to talk about something insignificant - mowing the lawn or a mistake in forecasters' forecasts. I would really like the neighbors here to learn more about each other and share their culture.
On the subject: What our people can not get used to in America after years
I miss our traditional porridge pea pies, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables and chicken-flavored salt. And also - dessert "Pavlova". These are two of my favorite Australian foods that I cannot find in the US.
What I miss most is how simple Ghana's cities and villages are. Although technology has penetrated everywhere, our markets sell livestock and poultry, which were raised in a factory and not fed with a mixture of feed and antibiotics, they lived freely in a paddock, ate grass. I remember my sister laughing at our brother who lives in the UK. On Facebook, he boasted that he had bought grass-fed beef. “What else do the cows eat?” She wondered.
The closeness of family, the strength of friendship - that's what I miss in America. I miss how my niece is growing, how my parents are getting old. I miss laughing with my sister. Family birthdays. Anniversaries. The funeral. The life that goes on without me.
I love to cook, but the taste of our products does not compare with those sold in the United States. But when I tried to bring parmesan or prosciutto here, it turned out that customs rules do not allow it! It was a huge disappointment.
One of the features of life in the United States is the obligatory presence of a credit history. This surprised me at first, then angered me, because new immigrants have to start financial history from the very beginning. And also in the USA I lack kilometers, meters, kilograms, liters, degrees Celsius. In the USA, as before, there is an archaic measurement system. We also had to get used to the “new” date of birth: first, the month is written here, and then the day and year of birth. Where is the logic? It's incomprehensible to me!
When I first came to the USA, I was very surprised to see that the stores here sell boiled peeled eggs in plastic boxes. We don't have that. This is a testament to how much Americans value convenience. Another culture shock for me is that the natural shell, the eggshell, is removed and instead put in a plastic wrap.
Original column published on the Voice of America website.
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