- All the food
I used to spend waaaayyyy too much money on cheese, Mexican ingredients, and American junk food when living abroad. I missed our ample selection of every food under the sun and even though I loved my rice, curries, grilled meats, and milk teas, sometimes, you just want a damn good burger.
Americans don’t even know how good they have it. I still LOVE going to the grocery store and I spend a good hour wandering the aisles in awe of the selection.
I’ve been eating California burritos, pesto pizzas, pulled pork sandwiches, BBQ wings, feta cheese and walnut salads, apple pies, and maple donuts. It has all been crazy delicious. In other news, I need to exercise a lot more…
But, damn, if I don’t love being a 10 minute drive from a taqueria..<3
- Family and friend milestones
To be honest, going to a baby shower in my first month home was difficult for me. Everyone was talking about their marriages, babies, jobs, etc. and it seemed so far removed from the life I had just left; backpacking through Myanmar and living in a Thai apartment full of geckoes. It made me feel stifled, terrified, and extremely anxious. I was happy to have a cup full of mimosa.
Yet, as I acclimate to life here, I see that settling down is not the most terrifying thing in the world and it has been quite beautiful to see friends walk down the aisle, show off their baby bumps, and to meet the children they have created. It may not be the lifestyle that I choose or am planning, but I’m very grateful to have been a part of their lives and big moments.
- 50 states/cultures
America is massive and I have explored so little of it. In fact, I have been to more countries than US states! A dream of mine is to road-trip through the states and get to see a side of my country that I’ve never seen.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve visited my grandma in Laguna Beach, seen friends in San Diego, and attended a wedding in upstate New York. I’ve hiked in Tahoe and taken my dogs to lakes and rivers in my area. It has surprised me how lovely and interesting all the places are, even though they are in my own country. When you live outside the US, you start to think of everything at home as boring and monochrome and it is anything but.
I used to be unable to fathom the idea of living here and now I see so many cool places that I could call home.
- I’m no longer an oddity
I don’t miss the stares and the constant “where are you from?” line of questioning when living abroad. After awhile, it irritates you and you wish for a moment of peace. I liked meeting new people and making connections with locals, but there were days when I didn’t want to be approached about English lessons or to have someone’s love proclaimed to me because I had blonde hair.
In America, I’m no longer a foreigner and I don’t have to struggle with a foreign language or communicating when I need help. I do miss the excitement of being in a strange, new land, but there is a definite comfort to being back in the country you grew up in.
- Pets have it good here In Korea, I kept a bag of dog treats in my backpack for the cute dogs that were kept in cages day in and day out. I saw ratty cats prowling on rooftops and most Koreans hated them. In Thailand, I had to try and not feel anger when I saw young kids kicking dirty dogs that were laying in front of a store or when I went to the mall and saw a GROUNDHOG tied to a stake and wearing a costume.
In America, we treat our pets like one of the family and it is seen as very cruel to mistreat a dog or cat. I do enjoy going out for walks or runs with my dog, Jack, and seeing other people out doing the same. I don’t ever see wild dogs or cats begging for scraps. It is possible that American love their pets TOO much, but I’ll take that over seeing mangled dogs roaming the streets or dog soup on a menu.
6. The clean air and water
America doesn’t always have the cleanest air and water (Flint, Michigan, ahem), but growing up in Northern California, I am used to drinking water straight from the tap and breathing fresh, mountain air.
In Taiwan, I had to use a filter and drank filtered water at my work. In Thailand, bottled water was a way of life and I would lug huge bottles of water to my fridge every week. This waste of plastic bothered me. It was also wretched when you realized you were out of water and had to run to the store.
Being at home and drinking out of the garden hose on a summer day? Feels totally decadent now. Another thing not to take for granted.
7. I don’t have to worry as much about modesty
Most Asian countries dress quite modestly, as this is their culture. In Korea, when I wore a bathing suit on the beach, I would be mobbed and people would take photos of me and with me. Koreans usually walk the beach fully covered and with an umbrella so, I was quite the spectacle.
In Myanmar, I wore linen pants and a t-shirt while trekking, so as not to offend the local tribes. My usual hiking gear is a tank top and shorts and this was pretty stifling for me.
I respect other cultures modesty and dress, but I will admit that it’s wonderful to feel comfortable in a summer dress again. Even if Americans lack of modesty means me having to see booty shorts all over the damn place.
8. The freedom of having a car
I actually don’t love driving because I’m not very good at it and I prefer to space out while traveling on public transportation. I loved taking trains and buses around Asia and having the time to read, drink, or talk with friends.
But, I do love having a car again. I will admit it. I can throw all my shit in there and I don’t have to carry groceries onto a bus like a peasant. I can blast whatever music I want, as loud as I want, AND I can sing real loud. Another plus? No waiting or worrying about missing the train. My car is always ready to go.
9. I can openly hate a politician
And by politician, I mostly mean Donald Trump aka pure evil in human form. See, I can say that and no one will throw me in jail. The American political system may be a shit show right now, but at least we can OPENLY admit it, discuss it, and mock it.
In some of the countries I have traveled and lived in, disrespecting someone in office can get you in serious trouble. In Thailand, pictures of the king are everywhere, we had to have huge celebrations for his birthday, and before seeing a movie at the cinema, everyone has to stand and honor him while watching a tribute video to him.
And no one can say a word about it…
10. America, the beautiful
I’ve lived in tropical climates for the past 2+ years and although I loved the beach lifestyle, I forgot how stunning the mountains and foothills of Northern California can be. I go on a morning run in my neighborhood or down by the river and I think, “my god, I am so lucky to live here.”
During my travels in the states, I’ve noticed that the beaches of Laguna are gorgeous, walking along the port of San Diego is relaxing and lovely, and my first visit to Niagra Falls blew me away.
America, I can’t wait to see what else you’ve got.