Living abroad for over four years now, there are things I miss about my home country: USA. I have read numerous expats’ homesick lists and decided to make my own. Aside from obvious things, such as missing family and friends, I will include the top 5 things that I miss the most about living in the US. These are not in any particular order.
Melbourne offers fantastic international cuisines, especially of the Asian sort, which I could never have gotten in my small-town America, but that’s not what I mean. I miss the idea of sitting down in a nice restaurant and not paying a fortune (i.e. Olive Garden, Applebee’s). I miss the sports-themed restaurants that weren’t trashy, but for the whole family. I miss “easy” food (i.e. Chipotle, Panera), where you didn’t quite go to fast food but it’s still “fast”. I miss REAL Mexican food.
Of course there are specific foods I miss (like Pistachio pudding for making Watergate Salad. Yum!), but the biggest things I miss about America are free refills, complimentary bread baskets, and drinks included with meals. Oh my goodness, why can’t my drink be included with the already over-priced lunch menu? And why must I order a $15 appetizer when all I want is to munch on cheesy bread?
The food selection is great in Melbourne, but I miss the way that eating out is in the US. It satisfies me completely, without an empty wallet.
This category encompasses many things, from customer service to paying with cards. In America, you can pay for anything and everything with a card and there are no minimum spending amounts for this luxury. In Australia, almost every place (except big stores) has a minimum you must spend in order to use your debit/eftpos card. Why? I still haven’t figured this out. It actually affects the way I shop. For example, sometimes I just want to get a coffee on my way to work, but I know exactly which cafes accept card and which cafes have a minimum. I will gladly choose a café with none of those rules, even if the coffee isn’t as great. Why? Convenience. I hate carrying cash, because I spend it more.
The other thing is store hours. The city is a ghost town by 5pm every day, and even earlier on the weekends. I understand that it is nice that people don’t have to work past a certain time every day, but sometimes I really need cold medicine at midnight or a random trip to get ice cream at early hours. Even the supermarkets close at 10pm, when I use to love doing shopping between the hours of 11pm-12am. I won’t even go into my evening coffee fix. Why does no one believe that someone could want good coffee (not from McDonald’s) after work?
Customer service… Customer Service… Customer service. I really don’t think I can say much on this without going into an outright rant.
The last thing I miss about shopping is the online shopping (and mostly free shipping). I miss the availability of items and not expecting to pay more than your shopping bag’s worth in shipping. It is depressing, sometimes, to look on Amazon and know that you can’t have something, because the shipping would cost too much.
3. Banter & Stranger Talk
This is something people do not understand here. I miss the people. I miss opening the door for someone at the bank and they talk about the weather or the construction on Main Street. I miss shop clerks asking about my day while I buy groceries. I miss the general attitude of people walking down the street, smiling and giving you a compliment. I miss being able to do the same without getting that weird look that I’m crazy or about to ask for money.
I once asked a coworker how her trip to the US was and what she liked and didn’t like. I enjoy knowing how foreigners look at my home, but something she said surprised me. She told me that the one thing she really didn’t like was that complete strangers would talk to her. It freaked her out. I was shocked and told her that was one of the things I missed MOST about home. I think we were both in disbelief that the other would like/dislike something like that.
I miss the politeness, the laughing, the making of friends easily. I miss getting jokes and making jokes and sarcasm. (I don’t know if it’s just my sarcasm but some people find it rude here.) I miss the culture, the sports (American football!). I miss belonging.
4. Reading the Newspaper
Oh, how I miss reading the newspaper! During my university years, I would read three papers every day: the local, the State, the Country. I miss being able to read ACTUAL news and relevant things happening. I miss this SO much, because I prefer it over television news. I can’t even buy the paper here, because there are basically two kinds (both on opposite political spectrums) and the big news stories are about a puppy or an old headline with a new twist. Not to mention the advertising. It covers a WHOLE page sometimes, while the news article is shifted to the side. It’s more like reading a fashion magazine than an actual newspaper.
5. American Optimism
I miss the American can-do attitude that we seem to have. I didn’t realize this was a thing until I left. People are generally more optimistic about everything: weather, sports, future, etc. We have a go-get-em way of life and we never give up on our dreams, no matter how unrealistic. I love this.
There are small things I miss on top of these major 5, but I decided to stick to the biggest things that make me homesick while living abroad. This list is just my opinion and what I miss most, which may differ from other expats. Oh and one more thing I miss: Good ol’ American patriotism.