Having only been here something like two weeks, there are already a few things that I desperately miss about the US.
- Family & Friends
Duh. I miss being able to see my family. Admittedly, I wasn't around that much, but it was always possible, not a 18 hour trip for 700$ each way which throws you completely in a reverse timezone sleep schedule. And I miss living at HQ. Honestly, I really like living with lots of people. It certainly has it's downsides (messes and dishes, for the love of god...), but I like that there's always something going on, the social feel of it, and having people to game with right there with you. I know I'll still be able to work it out with VOIP etc, but it's just not going to be the same.
God how I miss that store. There's nothing like it here. Loads of "Best Buy"-alikes, but nothing near Fry's in quality, selection, and plain girth. Almost all of the "electronics" stores are exactly the same. Same stock, that is, which is very frustrating -- especially considering the fact that none of these places have any "prosumer" type devices. It's very saddening.
The convenience of knowing there's always at least one place you can get a semi-decent drink is really nice. It's not like that at all here. (This is more Kimmy's item than mine, but I can agree.)
- Speaking the Language
Given, the vast majority of people here actually speak English, and pretty damn well, it is still slightly embarrassing forcing them to switch modes to accommodate me.
Cheap, simple clothing and loads of it. Perhaps we simply aren't hip to these stores here, or don't have the means (transportation and local knowledge) to find them, but so far department store shopping looks like it's going to KILL my wallet. Looking for a scarf...simple, nice feeling, scarf. Closest I found so far was a 600SEK ... 100 DOLLARS. Eeesh.
- Netflix, Newegg, Amazon
FUCK, it is unbelievable how America-centric the internet is. Maybe if I spoke the language here I'd know the sites and not feel so left out, but being such a tech head not having all these sites really makes you want to cry. Almost enough to move back!
- Standard Power Adapters
What really gets you about this part is that, now living in another country, you have two choices:
1) Buy everything from the US, pay HUGE shipping fees and pay a small fortune for adapters so that one day, when you return, everything will work just fine or...
2) Buy things with power cords made for this place and pray that you can get them back to working should you move back, but enjoy the hodgepodge of connectors and converters from there on out. Yay!
*Addendum* What we have actually discovered is that this is not as huge a dilemma as first perceived. As it turns out, many if not most of our appliances are rated for 110-240v 50/60hz input, so all we need is plug adapters, not full blown power houses. I have, of course, ordered one in case some of the things coming are not compatible, but it's not quite as necessary as I first thought.
Yeah yea, but it's so tasty!
- Soda (Dr. Pepper and the rest...)
This country is "Caffeine via Coffee" addicted. America is more about caffeine via soda. As such, here you can get the majors, like Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, and 7up pretty much everywhere. However, if you aren't a major brand drinker (like me) forget about it. After the aforementioned selection, you have a few off taste Fanta's to pick from (if you're lucky), possibly diet variations of the same or nothing at all. Even on the rare occasion you can find "Dr. Pepper" here, it's nothing the same. Apparently the recipe is packaged up, shipped over, and mixed here by some company that does it totally different. End result is that US Dr. and EU Dr. are nothing the same, and since I'm used to US Dr., the EU variant is plain unsatisfying. Damnit.
*Side Note* Apparently there is a store here called Gray's which specifically imports American food stuffs like Dr. Pepper, Mt. Dew, RootBeers, etc. Haven't found the place yet, but I understand it's an american import's mecca of sorts here.
- Understanding Value
You don't realize how vital a skill it is understanding the value of things till you have no idea what the value of things are. A bit vague, yes, let me expound... In the us, when I went into a store, or a gas station, or corner mart, I could look at the food stuffs and know if the price I was paying for something was a good deal or not. When you jump to another country, and another monetary system, you are totally out of comparison mode. And here it's a very stark difference -- since a 10 $ item is 60 SEK, the numbers are very different and difficult to calculate. It's a very uneasy feeling never knowing if what you are buying is under/or/over-valued.
Not that I lost my legs or something, and in fact, walking is more common here than it is in the US it seems. So I get lots of it. What I mean is that I miss knowing how to walk among crowds. See, in the US, stay on the right in the rule, and even when you have to break that rule, I understand the flow of people -- how they move. It makes sense to me, I've grown up in the culture and understand how people in the US navigate themselves in crowds. Here in Sweden, I am constantly bumping into people, getting frustrated by the person(s) in front of me, getting stuck, or back tracking because I made a wrong movement choice. It's incredibly frustrating, and when I'm out walking with Kimmy, adding another body to the mix just seems to compound things.
It would only be fair that, next time I write, it will be a list of things that I really like about being here. ;)