Things expats love and hate about returning to the United States

Things expats love and hate about returning to the United States

Water pressure, massive legroom, real cheese. What makes it cool to return home and what makes us want to leave again
Things expats love and hate about returning to the U.S.
Aw, you knew the old gang couldn't forget you, right Tim?

You’ve been away from home. A week, a month, or even longer. And now you’re back in the United States.

Does it seem a little weird? Relax, it’s perfectly normal to experience a few psychological bumps upon re-entry.

Here’s a quick list of things to look forward to –- or not.

It’s great to come home to:

gallons We may not like the numbers, but we're glad to see the units.

Gallons and miles, instead of fumbling to translate into liters and kilometers.

The United States is the only industrialized nation that ignores the metric system, thank you very much. But think about it -– a foot was originally the length of a human foot. Why change? It was good enough for the ancient Egyptians, right?

kfc Colonel Sanders, we missed you. The real versions of gut-bomb franchise food, instead of the overseas knockoffs that don’t come close to the official recipe.

How refreshing to have a real Pizza Hut pizza. Real Burger King. Real KFC. Even though it makes you sick, and strange fluid comes out your pores, it’s still nice to have the real thing.

America-sized legroom. Cars, airplanes, boats, trains, buses, theaters, restaurants, your own house. It’s like coming home to a luxurious biosphere designed for giants. You can stretch forever.

English-speaking natives. It’s fantastic to travel and communicate with other cultures, learn a few essential phrases in the local dialect.

But when you return, it’s actually kind of nice to just say, “Tall Americano with three shots and two percent milk foam,” without gesticulating like a bad mime.

Mexican food. Anything with real cheese, really.

It’s not so great to come home to:

U.S. expats Can we all agree to stop? This talking and dressing like Britney thing was tired 10 years ago.Incessant U.S. marketing of stupid and unnecessary products. Smirnoff’s “fluffed marshmallow” flavored vodka. A $500 electronics cord.

Really? We’re supposed to be a superpower. The leader of the free world. This is what’s important?
jfk airport Airport security at JFK: oh, never mind, we'll just go back to where we just came from. Gargantuan food portions in restaurants, and hyper-close-up TV ads of gleaming, steaming food. We worship food to a degree approaching hysteria. No wonder only one in five Americans has a passport. We’re too busy eating to leave.

The fact that everyone in the United States speaks as if in a constant state of surprise. At least judging from our peculiar abuse of the language: “Wow, really?” “No way!” “You’re kidding, right?” “OMG!”
The unnecessary attention paid to our pets. In most countries, a dog is a canine companion, period. A descendant of the wolf, that guards the home. Or in some Asian countries, a tasty meal.

In the United States, dogs have their own memory-foam beds, preservative-free diet treats shaped like pork chops and anorexic celebrity owners who carry them in bags to fashion shows.

Airport security. You can travel between countries with ease. It’s cultured. It’s cosmopolitan. It’s happened for centuries.

But try to fly anywhere in the United States and everyone’s stopped and patted and stripped and scanned and interrogated like an insurgent with C4 suppositories.

Also on CNNGo: Ultimate checklist for returning U.S. expats

Jack Boulware is a journalist and author of three books, and has traveled widely on assignment for many publications.
Read more about Jack Boulware
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