Only In America

6:36 AM Jmo 0 Comments

     Living abroad gives you privy to other ways of life. But. It also allows you step outside of your own culture, look back in, and realize... "Hey, that's pretty cool!"
     Some things that may seem common-place in The States (more specifically Michigan, USA), can seem strange, interesting, or downright exotic! to non-Americans. Cultures other than our own always invite comparison and often eye-opening exchange. Those small, little things that we take for granted in every day life might amaze someone!
      So here's an optimistic and longing look at what I've come across fondly as, "What? That really happens there?!"

#1. Free Refills on Coffee (and other).

     This one is the best. Bottomless coffee. The same usually goes for soft drinks as well, but who has time for that?!  One word: Coffee.

     I think I'm going to make a beeline to the nearest diner once my South African boyfriend gets off the plane in Detroit to show him the wonders of the filter.  Ohh yah! That's another thing. "Filter coffee" is often a luxury and instant coffee is deemed the norm. That makes the bottomless coffee at your local diner even more amazing. 

     Now, I'm not saying that this is the best coffee around  [insert scene from Elf here], but it is thought of as a luxury. So, snuggle up in that pastel coloured booth and drink up!

#2.  Drive, Drive, Drive.

     Americans drive everywhere. Being from Detroit specifically, the automobile has always been the mode of transportation; scoring much higher in the ranks than the bus and the train. It's just in our blood.

      I once told my Korean coworker that my home is about a ten hour drive away from New York City (a landmark everyone seems to know). She nearly fainted. "Why? Why would you drive that far?!" It's just something that we! We measure distances in minutes and hours rather than miles and laud the All American Road Trip.

     Though I do believe that the American railway system needs an extreme overhaul and would not only benefit our environment but our infrastructure, I do miss having the freedom of a car while living abroad. The freedom to jump in and take a spontaneous road trip to the lake. Or NYC?

#3. Buying Vodka Across From the Clothing Aisle
     In Canada you have the 'Beer Store', in South Africa you have the 'Bottle Store', but in The States... we have 'The Store'? 

     Sure, some stores still honor the traditional of not selling alcohol on Sundays. But, for the most part, you can buy your booze at any grocery store, convenience store, or... gas station. Not only that, but you can hop over to the Outdoors section and pick up a rifle while you're at it. Yay?

#4 Sales Tax
     This one... I'm not exactly nostalgic for. In many countries around the world, sales tax is included in the sticker price of the product you are buying. Some states factor in the sales tax but Michigan, my home state, does not. This tax accumulates at the end of your bill. Sales tax varies state by state and I'm sure this can come as a confusing surprise to foreign tourists. Sorry about that!

#5 Pop!

     No, it's not "soda" or "cola" or "cool drink" (as the South Africans say).  It's pop! Trust me, you'll get funny looks if you ask your local waitress for a "cola". 

     It wasn't until I left The States, and Michigan for that matter, did I realize how cute this idiom is. 

#6 Euchre

     What's that? Some type of dumpling? An elderly person's name? How do you pronounce it? You-Cray? -All of the above would be incorrect. 

     Euchre is a card game that has a died hard following in only a few States in the MidWest. If you know how to play this game, consider yourself one of the elite. Simply mentioning it outside of Michigan is an open call to head tilts.

#7 Map Hand

     I'll often bust out my "map hand" when trying to explain to people where I'm from. And, instead of clarifying, this often confuses people even more. Apparently us Michiganders are the only people who do this? I've even busted out a "map hand" in reference to South Korea and the entirety of The United States (it kinda works if you turn your hand sideways and stick out your thumb to represent Mexico, haha!)

     It's an extremely hard habit to break. But! It's also a fun ice breaker...
          Local: "Where are you from?"
          Me: "Michigan!"
          Local: "Which state is that again?"
          Me: *map hand*
          Local: "Wut?"
          Me: "Do you know Detroit?"
          Local: "Ahh yah!  But wait, what was that hand thing you just did...?"

#8 The American Flag

     Other nations have pride, of course, but our pride for the American flag goes far beyond most. It's a symbol that we are born and bred to be proud of and connected to. Not many people get the warm and fuzzies when seeing their flag being flown quite like Americans. 

     I've often been questioned about why we love and value our flag so much. And, I haven't really come up with an answer. It's just something that we do, something that we feel?  I'm proud of it regardless. (And I've carried one with me along the way from country to country as proof!) Maybe this is product of growing up with Global Guts? C'mon, you all wanted to be on that show!

#9 Recycle. Get Money!
     "That's so cool!", I often hear. And yah know what? Yes, yes it is.

     This is a win-win-win! I'm an advocate for recycling. But where there's a little extra incentive in the form of 10cents per can, everyone's an advocate. 

     For those of you unsure of what I'm talking about: Larger grocery stores in Michigan have "bottle deposit stations". You bring in your bag of cans and bottles (usually full to the brim in a sticky trash bag that's been hanging out in your garage collecting your future ten cents) and pop them into their proper slots: glass, can, & plastic. Once you're done, you print your receipt and bring it to the cashier to collect your funds. Not a bad way to encourage recycling if you ask me!

Lesson for the day
Be proud of where you come from! Where you were born is unique and interesting to those who haven't been! Explore your own backyard and take advantage of everything it has to offer. 

I'm heading back to visit The States after being away for nearly 6 months. I'm beyond excited (the reason why I wrote this article).  I can't wait to drink my coffee and play euchre. Oohh! Maybe I'll drink coffee and play euchre at the same time... wrapped in an American flag? haha

Happy Exploring~!

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