It’s been almost two years since I’ve been home to the States, and while New Zealand has grown on me to the point that I can’t imagine leaving anytime soon, I also sometimes still want to crawl into a hole and cry about how no one here knows how to use apostrophes.
And on that highly positive note, the biggest things I miss about the US of A:
Brand variety. It would be really super awesomesauce to not shop at the same stores over and over. You see, New Zealand doesn’t have the population to support many different mobile phone providers/grocery stores/tshirt brands, you basically get one or two options for everything. Meaning when I walk down the street in my snazzy new coat, I inevitably run into someone wearing the exact same thing. (This is a daily occurrence, y’all.)
Customer service. I miss being able to return something to the shop if it’s broken and not get into an argument. Kiwis don’t complain, which is actually a pretty pleasant environment to be around, but it means if you buy, say, a pair of pants from Country Road and they stretch out so much during the course of the day that they’re falling off you (literally), you can’t return them because, well, you can’t. Coffee’s cold? Don’t expect the barista to make you another. Does that stereo you bought only play out of one speaker? Too bad.
Fast internet. ‘Nough said.
Not spending absurd amounts of money on things that aren’t worth absurd amounts of money. Peppers (or, capsicum) that aren’t $4 each. Generic mascara that doesn’t cost $30. Oh, and international shipping that doesn’t require taking out a loan, customs fees and a two week waiting period.
Ease of travel. I never thought the 7-hour flight from London would feel short, but now I appreciate how close the States is to the rest of the world. I would die a thousand deaths to go home for a quick visit without needing to take three weeks off work just to deal with jet lag. How amazing would it be to travel to another country that’s NOT Australia and NOT pay $2,000 for a plane ticket? (To be fair, New Zealand’s distance from civilization makes it an incredibly special country, it does start to feel oppressive and isolating after a while.)
World news. How is it that NZ’s biggest newspaper features FRONT PAGE HEADLINES about toilet taxes, dodgy chicken or a woman’s Coca Cola habit? Maybe it’s not that New Zealand is so far from the rest of the world, but that people here just doesn’t give a shit about it?
What do you think? Is this really front page news?
Correctly used apostrophes. Grammar here is going to be the death of me. I realize Americans aren’t the pinnacle of grammar success, but I’m shocked at the number of huge brands and ‘high-quality’ publications here – who should know better – that can’t capitalize or use grammar properly. Take Glassons for example, a major NZ clothing brand. Now look at how they’ve spelled cardis in one of their shop windows. I have no words.
And this isn’t the worst of it. On menus you’ll see things like sandwich’s and nacho’s for sale. And my very very brilliant coworkers are regularly asking me if they should capitalize words when they’re “important”. No one knows what I’m talking about when I ask if it’s a proper noun.
Things I don’t miss:
1. People who feel the need to complain about every little thing. The stereotypical American sense of entitlement that has begun to exhaust me every time I talk to an American here. (Ironic? Perhaps.)
2. Loud American accents. Seriously. Keep your damn voices down. The person across the room doesn’t care about your dogs love of cardis.
3. More more more. This is a post all on its own, but there’s a Kiwi way of life that’s almost entirely devoid of ambition. It’s part Tall Poppy Syndrome/part sunstroke, but Kiwis don’t feel the need to constantly be moving up in the world/making heaps more money and it’s so effing refreshing to not constantly feel you’re not good enough.
Are you an expat too? What do you miss most about home?