God Bless America: The 10 Things I Missed Most While Studying Abroad
I had the time of my life abroad this past semester. I got to travel everywhere, study interesting topics and meet an amazing group of people. But being in a foreign country really made me appreciate America and just about everything I used to take for granted. No, I’m not talking about the cliché of missing peanut butter (which seems to be readily available in a lot of foreign countries these days anyway) but those little things you might never think about until they’re gone and then they suddenly become everything you think about to the point that you want to tear out your hair and scream at an unsuspecting foreign stranger:
1.) Functioning Internet: My friends and family thought I had fallen off the face of the earth. No, Mom we can’t Skype tonight, you should know better than to ask. What? You think I can just get online whenever I please? Right. As soon as I reached Amurica, I opened 12 tabs in Firefox all at once and started googling, just because I could.
2.) 24 Hour Safeways: Don’t get me wrong; I can get down with the idea of siestas. But closing the store around lunchtime? That’s just silly. And to top it off, the supermarkets would close for the day at a pathetic 9pm. The number of times I broke into a sprint to make it to the store, only to find the manager decided to shutdown at 8:52 that evening is remarkable. Needless to say, a lot of pregames were ruined.
3.) Beautiful Green Money: In Europe, if you drop a coin you basically just lost 5 dollars. Euros are all different sizes and colors. The monopoly money was a novelty at first but I grew to miss bills that were a subtle green and all a uniform dimension.
4.) And More Importantly, Debit Cards: Cash is a pain. I don’t like dealing with coins and bills going every which way in my wallet, ATMs or transaction fees. Even when the stores allowed plastic, I received disapproving and irritated looks when I handed my card over. Back home, I felt such a rush when I purchased a $2.73 coffee and didn’t have to awkwardly shift through my wallet to find change but just eagerly gave the barista my debit.
5.) Men Who Wear Deodorant: Enough said.
6.) Orderly Lines: These just don’t exist. Really. It’s seriously annoying but I wasn’t about to confront the little Italian grandmother who thought it was OK to cut around 15 people in the bakery… even the 100th time it happened.
7.) Sports At Reasonable Hours: There’s nothing like a 1am Superbowl kick off to get you pumped for the game. And it only got worse from there. West coast hockey matches left me setting an alarm for 4 in the morning. Of course I couldn’t stream the game (see number 1) but was left following live blog updates that would refresh once about every 9 minutes. Being a sports fan really has never been so difficult, but I refused to start watching soccer, excuse me, football to fill the void.
8.) Airlines On Which You Don’t Fear For Your Life: Never again Ryanair, never ever again.
9.) Easy Communication: My lost in translation moments didn’t stop even when my language skills got a bit better. Study abroad students, no matter how fluent, can be spotted everywhere struggling to order in a restaurant, or worse, attempting to spit out some small talk with a foreign hottie. And while those accents are cute and charming, sometimes they just make life difficult. Because let’s face it, even the Irish and Aussies are tough to understand when they have a few beers in them.
10.) To Go: Of course, outside of America you’re not going to encounter Cheesecake Factory like portions. Mounds and mounds of Luau Salad might not be staring you in the face when you’re finished eating, but as college students we know better than to waste any food. Especially if you’re paying for it in foreign currency. I never thought I’d miss those tiny plastic boxes promising me lunch the next day, but trust me, they are a beautiful thing.