Both of my parents grew up —and suffered— in Haiti. Fortunately, they were blessed enough to immigrate to the United States to meet one another and raise my sister and I. Growing up and even now when I travel somewhere, I am always re-reminded of how grateful I am for my parents in risking their lives for me to live the 'American dream.' I have been living in India since June 2012—it feels like I have been away for much longer. Since I have been here for almost five months now, I thought about making this post and writing the things I miss and don’t miss about home.
Things I Miss About America:
- Silence—the roads here in India are SUPER loud. People constantly honk their horns for no apparent reason.
- Electricity—I go to the gym everyday here. To reduce the electricity bill, clients are not allowed to use any of the machines for more than 20 minutes (i.e. elliptical and treadmill). Nor are we allowed to run on the treadmill. Nevertheless, I learned to make the best of it via doing circuit training.
- The Beach
- Getting credit for trying—In many countries outside of America (including India), kids get reprimanded for coming home with anything less than a perfect A+ on all of their subjects/exams. While teaching in India, I have seen first hand how stressful it is for kids. So much pressure is put on them to succeed and excel. Parents abroad (especially in India) have this mentality that a child should not get credit for trying because at all times, that child should strive to be the best. I am very grateful that my parents adopted the American idea of 'it's okay as long as you tried and did your best' when raising my sister and I.
5. My family/friends—I know that’s obvious but I just wanted to put it in.
6. Food—I have no idea where to start: Banana pudding, IHOP pancakes, Panera Bread’s broccoli cheddar soup, Einstein’s wheat bagel with cream cheese, Doritos chips, Applebees, macaroni & cheese, every Haitian dish, and many more.
6. Washing machines-while I loved Manju-di (the lady that does our laundry a few times a week), I missed the luxury of washing my own clothes.
7. Variety of Options--Whether it is hummus,1% milk vs. regular milk, or TV channels, I will never be amazed by the amount of options for pretty much EVERYTHING we, Americans, have. In some ways I think it's useful but after living abroad for a while now it can also be overwhelming.
8. Not getting laughed/looked at weird—although I have gotten adjusted to this attention here in India, it can be a lot sometimes. Almost draining for me. Everywhere I go, I get looks and remarks from the locals. I appreciate America for people's acceptance of others no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they are from.
Things I Don’t Miss From America:
- The “American Bubble”—while in the states it is very easy to be unaware of what is going on in other parts of the world. Except of course if a massacre took place or something else happened 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.
- Display of prices without the sales tax—In India and the other countries I've been to, the prices for everything always includes taxes. I would prefer to approach the register knowing exactly what I will spend.
- Dependency on a car—Ask anyone who knows me and they'd tell you that I don't drive much. While I understand the value of having a car especially if you have a family or want to take trips. It is just disheartening to know that unless you live in a major city in the states 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. Most American cities lack decent public transportation systems. Especially for long distance travel in and out of Florida, one's only options are car, the greyhound(:/), or plane. I'm not saying that India's rail system is top of the notch but all honesty the US needs to revamp its rail infrastructure, especially Florida. Living in India helped me gain an appreciation for public transportation.I had many options to get me to and from somewhere in no time---bus, rickshaw, and the metro.
- American Politics— Need I say more?
5. The American 'Grand Life':Working 9 to 5 (plus 2 weeks off)— traveling and living abroad has made me appreciate life more and more. I cannot grasp why Americans typically believe that spending 40+ hours a week working (with the standard two weeks of vacation) is the 'way of life' because it is not. Yes, one may not have the time and effort to travel across the globe but going somewhere with close family and friends to spend quality time is memorable and fun. Not to mention, it increases one's happiness. There's more to life than working 40 hours a week and two weeks of vacation.