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Today’s post was inspired by my recent trip to visit family in Australia. It’s crazy to think I’ve lived in Boston for a year. One year ago when I left Melbourne, Australia I never thought I would be referring to Boston as “home.” I still remember finding my first few months in Boston painful, and some of you might remember, I even cried in a restaurant, as I felt so homesick.
I year later, and I have grown to love Boston and fondly think of Boston as home.
The funny thing is, I’ve always had a strange love-hate relationship with the places I call home. I feel this way about my home city of Melbourne, Australia and my second home of Malaysia, where a lot of my extended family still live. I love both these countries, but there are many reasons why I don’t love these places, and I have moments where I think “only in Australia” or “trust this to happen in Malaysia.”
I’ve started to feel this way about living in the USA, and my recent trip to Australia reminded me of the many differences in culture that exist between these two English speaking nations.
In celebration of my time abroad (and my visit to Australia!) I’ve put together a fun post about 9 things I love AND hate about living in the USA:
1. I love… Online shopping in the States (because it’s next level awesome)
I’ve never been a huge online shopper. After moving to Boston however, I found myself wanting to buy all the things. You can buy everything (groceries included) online. Not only can you get everything online, but you can also have them delivered to your doorstep in TWO days.
Yes, you read that correctly… Two days.
I still remember ordering a couch on Wallmart for our (very) empty apartment and it arriving at our front door a few days later. In Australia having a couch delivered would involve waiting at least a week, taking a day of leave so that you can be there to receive the couch, and letting delivery men into your house.
You’re probably thinking… Why would you hate online shopping in the US though, it sounds great!
This accessibility has made me want to buy everything, including this caffinated soap from Amazon – because who doesn’t want caffine when they shower?!
2. I love… Tipping (no really, hear me out)
I think it’s great how clear it is where your money is going. Tipping gives you the flexibility to reward great service and punish poor service. While the rest of the world is like “huh, what – tips?!” having a tipping culture encourages customer service.
But you know what tipping also does?
It tests your mental arithmetic skills.
I’m an Engineering graduate, and yet for the life of me, I struggle to calculate how much to tip. I mean, after a large meal, who can think, let alone figure out how much they need to tip?
I’m not going to lie: I still use my calculator to tell me what 20% of $10 is.
3. I love… How cheap Avos are in America
For those who have visited Australia before and have been to cafes or had brunch in Melbourne, you’ll probably get the sense we are avocado-obsessed down under. Known as “avo” to Australians, we love it on sourdough toast with poached eggs, served with feta and a squeeze of lemon.
Words cannot express how much WE LOVE AVOS here.
Australia is basically in what feels like an avo drought, and we will happily pay $2.50 for one measly avocado at the supermarket.
But Americans? Are drowning in Avos. I can buy a whole BAG of avocados for $5.
This is a great thing, except because I am Australian, I will inevitably buy more avocados than I could possibly use because they are just so damn cheap.
4. I love… Eating burgers in the US
I know, as an Australian this seems bizarre. How much better could a burger be? Trust me; burgers can be bloody amazing.
I thought Australia had good, decent burgers. Then I moved to the US, and the burgers were next level awesome (don’t even talk to me about Shake Shack, they are 100% my reason for living).
But why do I hate having access to good burgers?
Burgers are not exactly nutritious… I guess that’s why my jeans feel tighter.
5. I love… Getting leftovers every time I eat out
Yes, yes and yes! Everything is bigger here: airports, cars, highways… and portion sizes. I can never finish my meal when eating out in the US and always end up getting whatever I don’t eat in a doggie bag to take home.
Every time this happens, the inner MG is fist pumping and thinking “YES I AM SAVING MONEY.”
But my stomach is like “oh god, you’ve already tried to fit so much in, and you’re going to do this again tomorrow?!”
The struggle is real:
6. I love… How big America is
I recall speaking to a young American couple in their late 20’s when I was in Israel this year, who admitted that they hadn’t had passports before visiting Israel. They had never been overseas. My travel obsessed mind could not comprehend this.
The truth is, there is so much you can experience in the US that you can’t blame Americans for wanting to see more of their country rather than exploring others. I mean, DISNEY LAND exists in multiple states in America (on both the EAST & WEST coasts).
Why would I want to go overseas, when instead, I can go to the happiest place on earth??
Disneyland aside, it’s amazing the variety of experiences that exist here. In what other country can you experience both the craziness that is New York City AND go hiking in the Grand Canyon? I’ve been kayaking in the Everglades here, pretended to gamble in Las Vegas and eaten lobster rolls in Maine. It’s nuts how you can do all these things without even leaving the country. The vastness of the US means you can take a domestic holiday, all without worrying about dealing with international flights and insurance.
The downside of this?
As someone who has lived in the US for a year, the sheer number of states becomes overwhelming. I can’t believe I am about to admit this – but I just can’t keep track of them all. Not only is there too many to remember (I swear I’m learning about a new state every week) some of the cities and states even have the same names. I mean: there’s Washington DC, and then there’s a state called Washington too?? And there’s Portland in Maine, but also Portland in Oregon??
How does everyone remember it all???
7. I love… How cheap flights are to Europe from the East Coast
If you live on the West Coast, I’m sorry, but sometimes I cannot believe the sale fares I come across from NYC and Boston to Europe. To give you an idea of how cheap flights are, I managed to score $300 USD return flights from Boston to Iceland. Yes. Return. With Iceland Air.
I feel like New Yorkers are drowning in sale fares to Europe – and every time I come across a sale, I can’t help but reach for my wallet, only to remember that no, I’m here to explore the US – not Europe.
This last year has been a test of my ability to refrain from constantly booking flights to Europe.
The struggle is real.
8. I love… How talkative people are here
This sounds so weird when I type it. If you’re American, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. The truth is, while Australians are a friendly bunch, we’re not as friendly (or should I say outspoken) as Americans are.
Living in the US and traveling here, I have never spoken to so many random people I didn’t know previously.
To give you a taste, I’ve had conversations with: people waiting in line for the toilet, people waiting in line to board the plane, people at the next table in the restaurant I was eating dinner at, people in the post office and even people waiting at the traffic lights to cross the street.
The talkative nature of Americans I have come across has astounded me and allowed me to learn more about what it’s like to live here. The downside? I’m a massive introvert, and sometimes I want to tape a sign to my head with the words “please don’t talk to me.”
This is actually how I feel sometimes:
9. I love… F’all, y’all.
I never really understood this “fall” thing. Then I moved to Boston, and next thing I knew, I was obsessed with fall. I was obsessed with the leaves, with apple picking, with warm comfy jumpers and anything with pumpkin and/or cinnamon in it.
I have proclaimed over the last few weeks on Instagram, how much I LOVE FALL.
But what I haven’t proclaimed is how much money I have spent on hiring cars to go leaf peeping, the many disappointing pumpkin spiced lattes I’ve tried, and I also haven’t mentioned the very large bag of apples sitting in my fridge from going apple picking. (secretly, I don’t even like apples)
Fall is serious business in America (or at least in New England), and while it’s bucket loads of fun (I mean, who doesn’t want to sit on the back of a wagon at an Apple Orchid?!) you can also find yourself getting sucked into fall activities and spending way too much $$.
And after all that rambling – yes, I think I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with America. But despite all this, I still refer to Boston as home. Secretly, just between you and me? I’m excited about leaving Australia and heading back home to Boston (shhh don’t tell my Australian friends!)