For years, the U.S. has been the land of mystery and excitement for me. This country where I was born but left when I was still a toddler formed my “what if” imagination while I was a teenager.
What if my family did not leave it when I was a toddler?
What if I went to school there?
What if I had friends there?
What if and why not?
My parents always had very fond memories of the years they spent living the U.S., so I had formed a very positive opinion. As a youngster, when I was still full of hope in life and thought all opportunities were still awaiting me, I thought I could have found and achieved whatever I wished for in life in this country.
Certainly, the reality is completely different. Not only because of how the U.S. is; also because of life itself.
My years of study in the U.S. in my early twenties opened my eyes and taught me a lot about life, myself, and people.
More generally, this country that is admired and abhorred by so many, is a land of contradictions and isolation and yet it is still difficult not to be fascinated by it.
Cities like New York are buzzing and exciting whilst other towns like Windsor – Connecticut, Charlotte – North Carolina are extremely boring. Places like Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. are rich in history, culture and museums and carry a European feel whilst other historical towns like Richmond and Williamsburg in Virginia are simply dull. And places like Virginia Beach and Atlantic City are outright tacky.
Life can be comfortable if you have a decent job that can cover your mortgage and if you have a car. But apart from the metropolitan cities like NYC, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia you cannot walk on the streets or get from one place to another without calling for a taxi one hour in advance.
Again, you would be lucky if you are in a town with museums and cultural activities because otherwise, the majority of towns’ only social activities are to go to restaurants and shopping malls. Or else, you are doomed to watch TV indoors all day long.
The U.S.A. is not so much the melting pot that the Hollywood movies claim it to be. Whilst a big variety of ethnic communities exist, they rarely interact, socialise, marry or tolerate each other as opposed to Europe where you see that happen more often.
If you happen to visit the south or the midwest, if you are not blonde and if you speak English with an accent, you are easily marginalised and subjected to questions like “When are you planning to go back to your country?”
The lack of interest toward the rest of the world, other cultures, elegance and the general ignorance can be quite frustrating at times.
But it doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. can still be a fascinating place. My opinion may (actually must) have been influenced by the fact that the period during which I lived there coincided with the George W. Bush administration, which greatly influenced locals’ views towards non-blondes and accented English speakers.
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Unfortunately, I still haven’t had the chance to visit California and despite the fact that I don’t miss my time in the U.S. at all, I would like to see the region.
Nothing beats the amazing Chinese and Mexican food you can eat there. Still to this day, nowhere else in the world I have come across the same quality of Chinese and Mexican food.
The topic of food automatically brings wastage to my mind. The amount of food that is wasted and the general attitude towards consumption of anything you can ever think of (energy, oil, cloths, electronics – you name it) are very sickening.
New York City is fantastic for cultural activities such as musicals and museums and so is Washington, DC, especially with the Smithsonian museums. But in New York, you must watch out for cat-sized rats in the subway and sometimes even on the streets.
Americans are lucky that their country has so much to offer in terms of variety of climates and natural landscapes. Newport in Rhode Island is a lovely seaside town from where you can go whale watching. The country has beaches, beautiful dense forests, rich fauna, variety of wild animals, mountains, deserts, scorching summers as well as thick white winters…
All in all, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly are all in this country.