The U.S. gets a bad rep sometimes: being ignorant of the rest of the world, having an overworked labor force, being materialistic, etc. If you’ve lived outside the U.S., it does get pretty frustrating trying to explain to the American who has not traveled (or even the one that has), that America is not the center of the universe and other countries are worth living in, or day I say, visiting for an extended period of time. It’s very east to criticize this country given its hegemonic influence on the rest of the world. But there is obviously a reason why lots of people want to stay here and do. In about six years of living in the good ol’ U.S. of A, here are some of my favorite things:
1. 24-hour stores.
There were many a trips made at 3 a.m. in college to go and buy brownie mix and those were some of the funnest experiences. The concept of something being opened all day, all night, is something that is very American in my eyes and I love it. Yes, I know it’s tied to a consumer culture and there are negatives that go with that. You can’t win ‘em all okay? So yes, I enjoy the freedom to go and purchase brownie mix in the wee hours of the morning if it pleases me.
2. The regional differences.
I know this may seem like a silly thing to put on the list but I love how different each region is in the USA. The pace, the lifestyle, the people in the East Coast are so different from those in the West Coast. Midwestern hospitality is markedly different from Southern hospitality. The way in which cities in each region differ is sometimes remarkable to the extent that I feel like I’m in a whole new country. It’s a good reminder that the USA is a really big country and I love that about it..
Okay, so times are hard. I am fully aware. I am also aware of my privilege in this country in many respects. What a lot of people aren’t aware of are the restrictions non-citizens may face depending on their legal status. If you want to know all the restrictions you may face, ask the next person you know who came here as an international student, for example. Still. there is just so much opportunity here that people do not take advantage of which to me is a shame especially as the global market gets more competitive. In this country, there is a way to go about making great things happen for yourself, if of course you’re aware of them.
4. Attitude towards foreigners (for the most part).
I have been a foreigner all but four years of my life. Being “foreign” is weirdly part of my self-concept, and although it may seem strange to some people, it’s something I enjoy in a lot of ways. I understand immigration and reform and all that jazz is a heated topic in the nation’s political discourse currently. But despite the restrictions that I face as a non-citizen, America is a lot kinder to foreigners than a LOT of places. And I have to say, overall, most Americans that I’ve encountered don’t hold terrible attitudes towards foreigners. Yes, there’s a bad apple or two but I assure you in other countries, being a foreigner might as well be a crime.
5. FREE REFILLS!
No explanation needed.