Things I Miss about the US

I’m excited to get back to the states in a few days, and wanted to get some last-minute thoughts down before re-adjusting to the US.  Here are some of the aspects of the US I’m excited to get back to:


Pandora internet radio has been my favorite method to listen to and discover new music.  Even though I signed up for the paid service, I was still very disappointed when I tried to fire up Pandora in Australia.  I spent several hours trying to figure a way around it, but never could seem to sort it out.

Even though I have a library of nearly 5,000 songs, I constantly feel like I’m listening to the same old stuff over and over.  I’ve grown entirely dependent on Pandora to introduce me to new things.

Reliable and Unlimited Internet

Australia was probably the worst.  Slower internet, transfer caps, less reliability.  We were only in our house for two months, so we couldn’t really sign up for internet since you had to sign a year contract.  I tried stealing it from the neighbors but they hit their monthly bandwidth allotment, and the speed reduced to a crawl.  The library was pretty fast, however they blocked port 21 so I couldn’t have FTP access, which sometimes was a huge incontinence.

While backpacking, finding a stable and fast internet connection was a rare gem.  Sometimes they would make you pay, others were really slow at peak times, other connections were down most of the time, some also had port 21 blocked.  There is nothing more frustrating than wasting your time trying to connect to a flakey connection at a hotel when you have a bunch of work you need to get done.

When I return home, I’m going to appreciate a stable fast internet connection more than ever.


Again, this problem was worse in Australia.  I was between 17 and 19 hours ahead of San Francisco.  Business hours did not line up at all, so trying to get work done that required heavy collaboration with anyone in the states took much longer.  As I traveled west, it became less of an issue.


The language barrier wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, however it still was a source of frustration.  It will be nice not have to ask if someone speaks English before talking to them.  Even in Scotland, I still had difficulty understanding what people were saying.

Not Being a Foreigner

Walking around, looking lost all the time, taking pictures of stuff, looking at a map and not speaking the native language were all dead giveaways that I was a foreigner.


Knowing what things are and where to get them is something you take for granted in the US.  We have Target, Walmart, CVS, etc.  Trying to buy seemingly simple items overseas can be a bit difficult when you have no idea where to get them.


Can you drink on the sidewalk?  Can you cross outside a crosswalk?  Which way do the cars go?  Are there any obscure laws I don’t know about that I’m violating right now?  How fair is this random country’s judicial system?  This was never perfectly clear in each country I went into, and it will be nice to get back to a place where I am familiar with the judicial system/laws.

In n Out

“I could really go for some In n Out, animal style” has a different meaning outside California.

Unlimited Cell Phone/Text Messaging/Data Plan/GPS

I had a pre-paid plan in Australia and Asia.  I hated always having to watch my credit.  My plan in the US is more expensive, but more worry-free.

Smoke-Free Environments

Seems like everywhere I went in Europe, people were smoking.  The worst was in stuffy, crowded bars.  My clothes always wreaked of cigarettes.  Even outside, people were smoking much more often.


There are two challenges that come with using a foreign currency:  1) Converting it into USD so you know how much you are spending, and 2) Identifying the coins and the notes.  In Indonesia, 8600 Rupies was 1 USD.  An ice cream bar was 20,000R.  Pounds were the hardest coins to determine value for.  They didn’t have a big number on them, and some even said “Twenty pence” spelled out in tiny letters.


I don’t remember ever paying for condiments at a restaurant inside the US.  Outside the US, it is commonplace.  We were even automatically charged an extra dollar per person at a pizza place in Czech for “condiments” even though we didn’t use any!  Also, ketchup doesn’t quite taste the same it did in the states.


1 Response » to “Things I Miss about the US”

  1. Therese Noonan says:

    It’ll be great to see you!

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