I was 14 when I moved to the States for the first time. Sure, I’d visited, attended American (or at least international) schools for the majority of my life, but it was an entirely different game moving to my passport country and starting high school. And in many ways, the difficulties of transitioning to the States carried over well into my college years. Despite the bumps that inevitably accompany the move to the States, chances are you’ll be embracing at least one of these aspects of American living – I know I did.
1. American Sports. Yes, American sports are said to be “slower,” but go to a baseball game on a beautiful day with your friends and you’ll see the relaxed pace just means more time to hang out, socialize, drink and chow. Those seeking the frenetic, all-consuming fan experience typical of football, pledge allegiance to an American college football team or a basketball team during March Madness and experience a similar rush.
Alan at a New York Mets baseball game with friends.
2. Grocery Shopping. There are aisles with every brand imaginable under the sun. Don’t believe me? Buy a box of cereal. I dare you to spend less than 10 minutes debating Cinnamon Toast Crunch vs. Frosted Flakes vs. Frosted Mini Wheats vs. Lucky Charms.
3. Cable TV. Two words: Couch. Potato. No more eagerly waiting to download your favorite shows. On-demand movies and DVR will become your new best friend as you try to keep track of the hundreds of programs at your fingertips. And better yet, Hulu and Netflix are 100 percent available in the United States, with lighting fast connection to book.
4. Concerts. “OMG WHY WON’T (JUSTIN BIEBER) (KANYE WEST) (IRON & WINE) COME TO (FIJI) (MOROCCO) (CHINA) ?!?” We’ve all been there, but lo and behold, chances are your favorite artist or band will make a stop in your slice of the U.S. of A. No more pining to catch an act that’s close but not quite close enough.
5. Online Shopping. Ever get all jazzed up to buy some great bargains online only to see the savings disappear because you live in some far off destination? Forget tacking on extra days and international shipping rates. Those days are long gone. Once that shopping cart is checked out, that package will be at your doorstep in a hurry. Amazon Prime, here I come.
6. American Portions. Order a medium value meal at McDonalds and be wowed. Typically, generous servings mean more bang for your buck. If you’re a big eater, you’ll be thrilled. For those wary of this approach to eating, go ahead and order an appetizer or two for dinner or split an entree with an equally sane person – you’re totally allowed.
7. Road Trips. You may not know how to drive, but odds are your new American friends will be more than willing to drag you on a crazy cross-country bender courtesy of the nation’s interstate highway system. Adventures and hilarity will surely ensue in the land of Route 66.
8. The American Diner. Imagine a restaurant that’s open 24 hours, is totally relaxed and boasts a menu as eclectic as your tastes. Pancakes and a milkshake at midnight, hamburgers and pasta at 7 a.m. – the American diner has been a teenage hangout throughout the decades for very real (and tasty) reasons.
9. American Holiday Spirit. The biggest bash of them all, July 4th is a boozy, firework-watching spectacle that never disappoints – a highlight of every summer. As fall comes, enjoy the wildness of Halloween parties as well as eagerly anticipated Thanksgiving, a personal favorite as my infinite fondness for Turkey Day is directly correlated to my infinite fondness for its pies.
10. Regional Diversity. America has historically been called a “melting pot” and for good reason. Beyond the cultures of the nationalities that have migrated to begin anew in the US, there are so many different forms of Americana to experience, whether it’s the result of immigrants or American ingenuity itself.
Alan is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and Fudan University.