By Magalí Zaslabsky
I have been living in the United States for a couple of years now, and despite enjoying my time here, there are some things that I miss from Europe almost every day. Being an immigrant is always hard because you not only have to get used to new things, but also you have to live missing the things you are used to. I have decided to make a list of the things that (in my opinion) you are likely to miss if you decide to move to the United States.
This is probably the main thing I miss on a daily basis. It isn’t impossible to walk in the United States, but if you have visited cities here that aren’t in the top ten most walkable cities in the country, you know what I mean.
In Europe, people are used to walking to a destination. That could be their workplace, a shop, or simply walking for pleasure. Here (in most cities or towns) it is almost impossible to walk like that. Yes, you can step out of your house and walk through your neighbor’s front yard or next to the parked cars in the street, but there is usually no sidewalk for pedestrians, and no pedestrian crossings. And distances are ridiculous!
Last week, I was walking in a town nearby and I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a pedestrian crossing to cross from the Chamber of Commerce to the Public Library. To get there, you had to basically run across a big road when cars weren’t passing by. As someone who has grown up in a walkable city, it was very frustrating to experience something like that.
Of course, the only places I have lived in the United States are Texas and Alabama. This inability to walk is not true in cities like New York, San Francisco or downtown Chicago. But for where I’ve lived, and many other places in this country, walking is not an option. And believe me, your legs will miss it.
- Public Transportation
Along the same lines, when I moved to the United States I didn’t have a driver’s license. And you can only imagine how hard it was for me living in Texas and being unable to drive.
This is when I discovered that in most cities (again, I am generalizing here, because there are exceptions to this rule) public transportation is almost non-existent. Some places have buses, but they are seen as poor-people transportation. No respectable middle-class American would use a bus to ride to their work. And bus routes are very limited.
Now that I am living in a “small-town” (63,000 people), you have to request the county bus a week in advance to get a ride somewhere if you wish to use public transportation.
This is something that really frustrates me. There is almost no way to get anywhere without a car, so be prepare to drive a lot if you move to a non-walkable city in the United States.
- Crunchy Bread
Okay, you probably aren’t concerned about bread, but I truly miss crunchy bread. Somehow, Americans have managed to call extremely soft bread “French baguette,” and I keep buying it with the hope that someday it will taste right. But I continue to miss the crunchy sound of a real European baguette when you break it.
Some cities have good quality bread (most of them in the Northeast), but if you like crunchy bread as much as I do, you will have a hard time finding it anywhere else in this country.
- Political and Polemical Conversations
If you are used to Europeans, you know that they tend to talk about politics and their opinions with their friends as much as with people they barely know. Asking someone who they voted for, what they think about a new referendum, or even joking about some political issue is part of everyday life. Or at least that is my experience. But here in the U.S., people are so “politically-correct” that they don’t even dare to ask a political question.
I can’t generalize for all Americans, but I’ve known very few people in my two years living in the United States that would feel comfortable openly disagreeing with someone, or even asking a politically tricky question.
Even though this can be positive, because they are very polite and I don’t necessarily enjoy political conversations, being unable to speak about news and political issues in classrooms or with some of my friends has been hard sometimes.
- Short and Cheap Flights
Moving back again to transportation… I miss cheap flights! Last month we booked a trip to Seattle from Atlanta and it was $650 per person! I understand that this is a big country, distances are big, blah blah blah… but that is a lot of money!
I am still not used to paying so much for a domestic flight.
If you move to the United States, be prepared to not have as many cheap discount flight options as Europe does.
I would be happy to hear what other things you miss having moved (or planning on moving) to the United States. These are some generalizations and personal things that I have missed since having moved here two years ago. But, I will follow this post very soon with things that I will definitely miss if I leave this country, because there are some awesome things here too!