10 Things I’ll Miss Most About America
Yes, I love Spain. And, yes, I annoy the crap out of friends and family comparing Spain to the U.S. (it’s classic study abroad alumni syndrome: [condescending voice] “Ohhh, right, that’s how it’s done in America. Well, in Spain, it’s done blah blah blah”). And, sure, there’s plenty wrong with this country. But the truth is, I love America. Fireworks and red, white, and blue inevitably inspire a patriotic surge of warm, fuzzy feelings in my chest, and there’s absolutely no place like home. I’ll miss the U.S., no doubt. There are people I’ll sometimes miss so much I’ll want to scream, and deeper aspects of life I’ll pine for, but here are 10 of the, well, more trivial, yet still much beloved, things I’ll miss when I’m in Spain.
- Free refills
Seriously, Europe. Get with it. Soda from a fountain costs, like, 5 cents a gallon, so why not give us as much as we want? Oh, you don’t feel like clogging our arteries with artificial sugar, and you don’t think people need to drink an entire swimming pool with each meal? Fine, valid points, but we want our free refills, damn it! Rationing a tiny bottle to last throughout an entire meal just won’t cut it.
- Cell phone data plans & unlimited texts/calling
Sending a text message in Spain, at least with the phone plans that work best for foreigners, costs about 25 American cents. Phone calls are also about 25 cents a minute. Here in the U.S.? Way cheaper, and most people have unlimited texting plans and a million minutes to spare. This leads to lots of entirely unnecessary texts like, “Hehe I’m sitting right next to you!” but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s nice not having to calculate my budget every time I need to transmit a little piece of information to a friend. Plus, now that I’ve gotten used to my iPhone, it’s going to be rough not being able to obsessively check my email/Facebook/Twitter every five minutes. Pity me.
- The douchey college things I never cared for before leaving the U.S.
Giant football games. Frat guys. Beer pong. Didn’t like any of them before I went to Spain in 2009, but, strangely enough, after I had been there for a few months, I found myself occasionally wishing I could just be playing a game of beer pong with dumb frat boys at a football tailgate. It seemed so stereotypically American, and I guess I needed a dose of that every once in a while. I’m still fonder of those things now than I was pre-Spain.
One of the primary reasons I like living in Spain is that it’s an amazing opportunity to improve my Spanish, but when you’re stuck speaking Spanish all day err day, as they say, you wish you could just spend a few minutes relaxing and speaking your native language with that cashier or bank teller. Even if you do have native English-speaking friends abroad, everywhere you go in public, every errand you need to run, you have to communicate in a second language. It’s awesome, but it’s also exhausting.
- Ross Dress for Less, Target, and other cheap stores
Sure, you can hit up chinos for good deals on pretty much anything you need, but nothing really compares to Ross or Target when it comes to quality discounts. Plus, it’s nice having enough experience with a country’s stores to always know where to go to get the best deal on an item.
- Size 9/9½ shoes
In the U.S., I wear a size 9 or 9½, a rather average size that can be found at any store. In Spain, my equivalent size is 40 or 41, and the maximum size you see in most stores is 40, and you’re often hard-pressed to even find that. One time, I was in a shop on Calle Montera in Madrid, where, hooray! They had a whole section of feminine shoes ranging from 40 to 45! Finally, a place for me! But the more I inspected the wide variety of 5-inch heels and blinding glitter, I realized who these shoes were really meant for. You see, as it turns out, in Spain, I wear transvestite-sized shoes. Great.
- Real milk
Spain’s all about the UHT (ultra-high-temperature processed) milk. The stuff that stays good unrefrigerated for 6-9 months. While that’s convenient since I can never seem to prevent American milk from spoiling, it has a distinct cardboard taste that I can’t seem to embrace. They do sell the kind of milk we’re used to here in some stores, but it’s more expensive. Oh well. They also seem to prefer whole milk and often choose not to refrigerate it.
Sometimes it’s tough being a rare blonde in a country of mostly dark-haired people. Sometimes I forget my name is Kirstie and not Rubia.
Flip-flops just aren’t as acceptable in Spain as they are here in California! You will see people wearing them in the summer (sometimes), but, here, I have them glued to my feet from January to December, rain or shine. There, I just get weird looks. Feet, prepare to combat claustrophobia.
- Singing loudly in the car
There are few things that compare to getting in the car, turning the stereo up to full volume, and yell-singing along to your favorite songs where no one can here you. In Spain, I walk or take public transportation. Therefore, no car singing. And singing loudly in my room? Well, that’s just obnoxious to my roommates. Maybe I’ll scout out some karaoke bars to fill that niche.