Friday, June 7, 2013

First Impressions of the United States

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, but it's all still pretty accurate. These are my three main first impressions upon arriving back in the United States. Keep in mind, these were made after traveling throughout Asia for a few months, so they are not necessarily solely in comparison to life in Australia, but they do apply in some ways.

Indian airline ad for flight attendants
      (Some) employees treat customers like incompetent children.

First of all, it has to be said that the physical attribute qualifications for flight attendants in Asia differ dramatically from those in the United States. Check out this ad I found for flight attendants on an Indian airline. Make of this what you will, but I noticed a marked difference the minute I got on the United Airlines flight from Mumbai to Newark. Anyway, the way that some of the American flight attendants, along with the immigration desk, ticket counter, and luggage handler workers talked to the customers (especially those who weren’t American) was condescending, abrupt, and borderline rude. I know not every employee is this way, but it was something that stood out quite obviously after eight weeks of traveling in Asia.

Life with our Molly is good!
   



The amount of choice is overwhelming.

On our drive between Michigan and St. Louis, we stopped at Panera Bread for lunch. It was one of probably ten choices for food at one exit (which is amazing by itself). I was absolutely overwhelmed. The restaurant was huge and crowded, the menu was gigantic, and I could barely give the lady my order without having a nervous breakdown! After finally making up my mind about what I wanted to order, she asked what I wanted for a side. Then she asked if I wanted a drink. And through it all I felt rushed, as there was a crowd in line behind me. I guess I’m so used to either having hardly any choices, or choices already having been made for me (preset meals), or having plenty of time to figure it out without time-crazed Americans standing in line behind me! I think my first trip to a grocery store is going to be pretty wild. Oh, and portion sizes are HUGE here!

Visiting my sister Morgan in Santa Cruz!
      Roads are clean, empty, straight paths full of people in their “bubbles.”

While traveling in Asia, one of my favorite things was driving (being driven) through the cities and countryside. Though the “roads” were often in terrible shape and the safety of them and/or our vehicle was questionable at times, this was where I saw the heart of the country. Everyone seems to live near the road, and people gather outside to sell things, play games, wash clothes or dishes, sit with friends, or just watch the world go by. Besides the people, the sides of the road are full of colorful trash, animals, and signs of life.

In stark contrast, the roads in the United States are long stretches of perfect cement paths with pristine green grass along the sides. When there are houses within view, no human is to be seen.  Instead of open-air modes of transportation like scooters, tractors, motorcycles, rickshaws, or tuk tuks, everyone in America is in his or her own enclosed car. Nobody interacts with anyone else, and driving just seems kind of lifeless and sterile.

Reading back over these, I realize that they sound a bit negative. I don't mean for them to sound that way; these things just stood out the most. A few more entries to come!
This was our home in Colorado before moving to Australia. We stopped by while driving through!

4 comments:

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  2. I got SO overwhelmed the first time I went to Wegmans after moving back from Guam. Like, had to go home, regroup, and make a grocery list before returning to make a purchase. It's kind of embarrassing, but I just forgot what it was like! And I intentionally take back roads whenever possible so I have something to look at. =)

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    Replies
    1. Ha-yeah, a list is a good idea or I'll just get distracted and lost in these superstores!

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  3. article really very nice and well written :)

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