Top 12 things I never thought I would miss about the U.S.:
1. Starbucks. Really just the cafe culture, independent of the brand. The pure joy of sitting in a busy place and not being required to talk to anyone while drinking something delicious and reading a good book. I miss using that as my thinking time.
2. Businesses being open during lunch time hours (except for the Columbia, SC post office–I never did understand that one).
3. American dancing. No, we’re not sluts, we’re just Americans.
4. American approach in a bar. Putting someone in a choke-hold and saying ‘give me a kiss’ from four inches away is reasonable cause to get you face slapped off in the U.S., and I like that.
5. American lack of touching. I like meeting someone new and having no part of their body touch mine, and then us saying goodbye and the same thing happening, which is to say, nothing.
6. Not being friend-requested by hundreds of people I don’t know. You’re the cousin of someone I accidentally bumped into on the bus? You one time passed me toilet paper under the bathroom stall when mine was out? I sat next to your mom on a flight from Salvador? Sure, please friend-request me, I’d like for you to know lots of personal details about my life.
7. Lawn mowers. People here burn fields down like I imagine my ancestors did. No wait, I think even they cut down grass with a machete or something.
8. Garbage disposals. I don’t ever want to touch mushed up pieces of wet food again. Call me prissy, fine, but it’s disgusting.
9. On-line banking. Need to pay your rent? Get in line at the bank, pay, get a receipt, scan that and send it to your landlord. Need to pay your electric bill, get more credit on your phone, and take cash out? Get in the 10-person line at the ATM and wait for everyone else to attend to their monthly banking before you.
10. Being rich isn’t that big of a deal. Lots of people are rich in the U.S.; I don’t happen to be one of those people, since I’m $60,000 in debt, but I’m not impressed by those who are. In my experience in Brazil, the class system is still very much alive. Insanely expensive gadgets are must-haves in order to impress your peers. The more money you have, the more you stand out and the more people are impressed by you, which is very important. Maybe some play by these rigid class rules in the U.S., but when I think of someone who would I think of old-moneyed people like in the Great Gatsby. Not real people.
11. Being blonde isn’t that big of a deal. Blondes, it seems, are more common than not, at least at the 75% Dutch high school I went to and at the University of South Carolina, where I went for grad school and where blonde bimbos reign supreme. I also happen to be blonde, so I fit in in the U.S. Here, on the other hand, unless I’m in the far south of Brazil, I stand out like a sore, 6 foot tall, blonde thumb. It’s tiring.
12. Everyday things being simple. Sending something at the post office, getting from point A to point B in my car, getting a cell phone working, having easy access to the internet, ordering food, going grocery shopping, finding an apartment. When I first arrived here, these things turned from simple, slightly irritating errands to stress-inducing, all day events.
I’ve gotten used to the Brazilian way, and the act of merely living has gotten less stressful, but these past eight months have made me crave home; not in a homesick way, exactly, but I miss doing things I’m used to. Six more weeks and I’ll have that opportunity again. I already have my Target shopping list made up.