Sunday, March 08, 2015

To Be Homesick...or Not To Be Homesick

Denver Meg and I were bearing with the malaise of another hot day consumed with research by going to Guzman Y Gomez - the Australian version of Chipotle (though it might actually be healthier and tastier). As we sipped our ginger beers and poked around at chips and guac, she asked me what I missed about the US so far.

It's a good question. I find that about a month after I move overseas is when the novelty starts wearing off and the realization that I will be here for a while kicks in. This is when I start missing things from home. You might even call it being homesick.

But today I was stumped.

I mean, there are those people in the US I love that I miss a lot, and the ability to see and talk with them daily is something I crave. I definitely miss my loved ones terribly. But when it comes to other stuff? I am left a bit speechless.

Australia is, after all, a functioning industrialized country. Most of the things I can get in the US I can get here, or at least find an equivalent. In fact, I've been surprised to see some of the products on the grocery shelves I know from home (for example, I found out some of those health foods I love are intercontinental).

Meg and I both hoed and hummed for a little bit, surprised that we have adjusted pretty well to life here. She mentioned that the only time she really remembers she's abroad is when she goes grocery shopping and realizes that the packaging and brands are foreign to her. I think I agree with that.

But, being an over-thinker, I feel compelled to explore this exercise more. The lists below are what I came up with today. I have to bear in mind that my list is less about the entire country, and more about my experiences in New England and NYC.

What I miss from the US:

  • The NYC subway, because I like being able to read while I am in transit. Here, I still get carsick on the buses (especially with that one driver who stops abruptly. Every. Single. Time.)
  • Neutrogena makeup, but that's not really a miss and more of an inconvenience. I am sure I will find something here I can use.
  • Trash bins on every block, because that's not a thing here. Surprisingly, there's little trash floating around despite the lack of bins. But I'd still like to throw away my nectarine pit while I'm walking around.
  • Stores opened whenever I need them, since shops here close around 6pm, and sometimes you really need to go buy a bra at 9pm. The grocery stores are usually open until 9pm, so at least I won't starve to death.
  • Unlimited wifi, but that's mostly because I cannot sign a contract with internet providers here. Instead, I have to pay as I go. It's definitely not cheap, let me tell you.
  • Stick deodorant, since it's either roll-on or spray here. I think those are both gross options, but then again maybe stick is equally gross and I've just grown used to it.
  • Cold water out of the tap, because water out of the tap is lukewarm (at best). It makes cooling off in this incredible heat a bit more laborious.

What I do not miss from the US (or, what I may miss from Australia):

  • Vitamin D, because the intense sun here is giving me major daily mood boosters. Several times while Skyping Mr.Alex has mentioned how my mood has significantly perked up since getting here, and the only reason I can figure is the fact that I'm under a big fat Vitamin D pill every day that rains into my immune system.
  • Waiting in lines, because it's not so stressful here. I mentioned to Aussie Kylie a few days ago how people don't lose their tempers or huff around while in lines that take a bit longer than normal. She looked at me genuinely confused and responded, "Well, what else is there to do but simply wait??" Oh, I don't know....throw a tantrum and rip off your shirt before biting the patron next to you? Locals manage the laid-back lifestyle very well.
  • Gluten free as a novelty, as I have found a whole lot more GF options in stores and restaurants here than I have in the US (even in NYC)! Waiters know what it is almost instantly, and that's kind of neat. The only times I've accidentally consumed gluten has been from my own stupidity.
  • Having to swipe for everything, since cards here are mostly taps. The transit card is tapped onto a pad that counts how much money you've spent on your trip. Credit cards are gently tapped onto a card machine, and the transaction is automatic. It's really nice, and your cards don't get scraped up as easily.
  • Sugar in my bread, and I am not even really sure why that's a thing in the US. Bread doesn't need sugar. The bread here certainly doesn't. Actually, this might apply to a number of other foodstuffs in the US, too...
  • Single-flush options, because I like conserving water. Why doesn't the US have more flush options so when you urinate you don't have to waste so much water? Australian toilets seem to unanimously offer a half flush and a full flush, and that makes sense.

I'm sure what I miss will come out more as the year forges on. For now, though, I'm happy to feel pretty well-adjusted.

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