Things I love and hate about American culture

2 Dec

No other country sparks mixed feelings in me the way America does. But what do you expect from a country so big, diverse, and enjoyable, yet also downright ludicrous at times, that I happen to be growing up in. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I love and hate about living in America. I’ll start with what I hate to get the bad news out of the way:

HATES

1. How some people act like America is on a different planet than the rest of the world

The insular isolationism really drives me up the wall. Not only do people here not travel much (even if they easily could afford it), but some of them try to turn isolationism into a strength. I truly hate when people say “Yeah, I don’t go to them other countries cos’ I’m a reel ‘Murican!”. It’s an arrogant attitude and it’s one of the reasons that America is falling behind the rest of the world in everything from public education to public transportation. From my observations, the people who are most patriotic about America are the ones who’ve never set foot outside America.

2. Suburban living

With the exception of some cities like New York and San Francisco, from my observations, Americans spend time cooped up in their lives without exposing themselves to the outside, down to earth activities. People sleep in and watch TV in their own homes. They drive their own cars to work. They spend lots of time at work. They drive home. They order their own dinner. Repeat. It’s really a shame because America has so much going for it in the outdoors, from hiking to mountain biking to fishing. But hey, at least it means the people who do appreciate the outdoors have it more or less to ourselves ;).

3. There’s some very ugly towns

There’s some very pretty towns in America too. However, too many of the would-be cute rural towns have been taken over by walmart and mcdonalds. Suburban highways can be giant strip malls at times. And don’t even get me started on the workers’ rights abuses in many of these big retailers.

LOVES

1. People are vocally passionate about their political, cultural, and economic goals

People are always passionately striving to achieve their goals here, and boy do they make a fuss about it. Whether they are political protesters, gamblers trying to win the jackpot in Vegas, college students in Boston working hard to get good grades, people care about what they do. There is no stiff upper lip here. People are passionate. They have optimism. They have vigor. They work hard. Though I think too many people live to work rather than work to live, people do care about their causes here, and will not hesitate to let everyone else know what they believe, whether it’s a conservative lining up at Chick Fil A or a liberal at an occupy protest, there are many examples of this. It makes the country quite chaotic but also quite exciting and interesting at the same time.

2. The Great Outdoors

America has some of my favorite national parks in the world. There are so many beautiful parks here, and though I wish they had a larger federal budget, they are still what they were supposed to be: America’s best idea. In Europe, to find somewhere truly out there and remote you either have to go to the Alps, Northern Scandinavia or the Scottish Highlands. But in America, you can easily escape civilization and enter complete wilderness in many parts of it, from Maine to West Virginia to Utah.

3. Food portion sizes (This one is a guilty pleasure)

I’ll admit it. I love large portion sizes. Yes, their unhealthy, but hey, once in a while it isn’t too bad. They give us lots of food here and I love it. Not McDonalds. I hate McDonalds, but I love those vintage railcar diners that serve stacks of pancakes and giant greasy omelettes. I also love how there’s a lot of variety of food options here. It’s not like in Europe where you feel like you should try the traditional local foods to appreciate where you are, because in America, it is a melting pot of cultures and food options. And they give you quite a lot of good food, often at cheaper prices than they would in Europe.

Anyway, those are the things I love and hate about American culture.

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