10 Things I Miss About America

I’ve never been a big Amurica lover. However, the more time I spend overseas, the more I’ve become an America appreciator.

Here are 10 Things I Miss About America while living in China:

1. English.

Don’t get me wrong. One of the most beautiful things about this world is its diversity. Its languages, its cultures, its people. Sometimes, though, being able to communicate with the waiter at the restaurant using more than charades and five useless words would be awesome. Or being able to read signs. Yes, that.

2. Cereal.

I have a problem. Every foreign country I have ever lived in has been rated on my “Cereal Availability” scale. China is at a dangerously low level. Not that foreign cereals aren’t accessible, but because they are outrageously expensive. And, come on, I’m a poor English teacher. Import stores clearly aren’t understanding my need for some Life cereal.

3. Driving.

Upon our return to Beijing, it snowed. I love snow, but, dagnabbit, I hadn’t considered what it would be like to ride my bicycle around on ice. This is not a joke. We’re going to die on the streets of Beijing. I’ve resigned myself to this fact. However, it does make me miss the warmth and comfort of being behind a steering wheel with the heat on full blast. Don’t take it for granted, guys, seriously.

4. Facebook without a VPN.

China has chosen to block websites such as Facebook, BBC News, Twitter, and basically every blog that exists. I can’t entirely blame them, since I have seen first hand what social media is capable of encouraging. A tip of the hat to you, Middle East. However, that leaves foreigners to purchasing VPNs. All I know is that when the VPN is on, suddenly I am able to get on all the afore-mentioned websites. And all I also know is that it slows down my connection and is a bit of a hassle. Amurica, you free country you.

5. Secure manhole lids.

The things you take for granted, I tell you. For some reason, when I’m in the U.S., I never think about the sewer holes. Are they in the middle of the street like they are here in China? You would think I would have noticed. Well, notice I do over here. I heard a horror story from a friend, that someone they knew hadn’t been paying attention and rode her bike right into an open manhole. Her wheel fell in, and she flew forward onto the pavement. In response, of course, I do my best to avoid them now, but sometimes you just have no choice but to go over those shaky circles of doom.

6. Western toilets.

I’m as adventurous as the next person, maybe even more so. But I really, really, really can’t stand using squatty potties. Tell me all you want that they are more “natural” and “cleanly.” I don’t care. Squatting over a porcelain bowl in the ground is not my idea of a good time. I’ll hold it until I go home, thankyouverymuch. However, now I do understand why there are always footprints on the toilet seats on airplanes. Yeah, that’s a picture you won’t get out of your head any time soon. You’re welcome.

7. Anonymity.

When I was little I always wanted to be a celebrity. It seemed like it would be just…awesome. People wanting to take your picture all the time, smiling at you, wanting to meet you. Well, it’s not as awesome as nine-year-old Grace thought it would be. I think at some point you realize that just because you’re different, doesn’t mean everyone is staring because they like you. No, you just stand out. It’s more like I’m a pale monster in a sea of normal humans. Alien.

8. Dunkin’ Donuts.

“America runs on Dunkin,” right? Then what should an ex-pat in China run on? Newsworthy Overpriced Starbucks? Instant coffee from the nearest Carrefour? Tiny Bimbo donuts from the grocery store? I’m not even picky. I’d settle for a Tim Horton’s or a Krispy Kreme.

9. 120 Voltage.

The first morning in our apartment I plugged in my supposedly dual voltage hair dryer. It was a recent purchase from Target in preparation of our new life in China. It sparked and blew up the moment I turned it on. Classic. I can survive the occasional death of an electrical appliance. No biggie. The reason I really miss 120 Voltage is because of my Mac. Although Apple products are great while traveling around, my Mac has always had a weird response to 220 voltage. After awhile of charging, it will begin shocking my wrists as they rest on the area around my mousepad. Zap. Zap. Zap.

10. Clothed Babies.

China has a very different approach to potty-training. Their strategy is to have the kids wear pants that have a split up the crack. This allows for easy access for taking care of their business – anywhere at anytime. It also means I see a baby’s bare bum daily. Sometimes, I spot them holding their child over a trash can, while they relieve themselves. This would seem more cleanly than usual, but then, five minutes later, a man goes through the trash to find bottles to recycle. I hope that kid feels better.

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What have you missed most while living overseas? Leave a comment below.

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3 thoughts on “10 Things I Miss About America

  1. Grace, my husband and I are living in Kiev, Ukraine now teaching at an international Christian school. I totally get most things on this list! Especially cereal and English….and manholes! Just this morning, Nate stepped on the lid of a manhole (in the alley between our apartment building and our bus stop), only to find that it wasn’t secured–his leg fell right in! We are hoping to be able to contact someone to make sure it’s fixed…but then again, people don’t speak much English here. Ah, life.

    1. Kiev! My parents recently adopted my sister from the Ukraine. I’ve heard enough stories to commiserate with you. Haha. That’s fantastic you are working at an International Christian school there! Stay safe and God bless!

  2. Cereal, driving, and Dunkin’s. I completely agree.
    We only have ‘healthy’ cereals where I am, the roads are frustratingly small, and there are really not many franchises here like Taco Bell, Chick-fil-a, or in-n-out.

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