Cincinnati

10 things which Irked me in America

I am adventurous and fancied moving to a new place always, or so I thought. Now that I have moved 12,000 km away from my origin, I see myself whining all the time. Maybe when everything is glorified to you all your life, you don’t find the place as sheeny. The obsession of Indians with America is well-documented and I found everything overhyped. 

Burnett Woods

 Lake at Burnett Woods (Close to my home)
Had it been just another vacation, I think I would have been a little more open-minded, but since I was moving to the States I automatically compared everything. And, that made my first few months difficult.

Here are some notable differences I spotted which didn’t go down well with me:
  • The eerie silence: I had heard about stories of empty streets and rare traffic jams in the States but I was surprised by the absence of people from everywhere, even from the busy streets (they called them so) on weekends. I went to a local fest expecting some energy and I could literally count the number of people with my eyes. By 8 pm, the cities turn into ghost towns as the absence of people is augmented by the dimly-lit houses and streets.
  • The not-so-friendly restaurant servers: I think this is specific to the area where I am staying because in some other parts of the US (specifically Florida) I have met friendly servers. In Cincinnati, they would just come to us with a straight face for taking an order and maintain that expression throughout. At times, when they are unable to understand my accent, they would just scream “Whaaaat?!”. Never a friendly smile.
  • Crazy driving speed: Yes, I totally accept the fact that driving in India is the worst thing ever and people from India find driving across the States a cakewalk. But, I was surprised to notice the speed at which people drive here, its surprisingly high and scares us! Our minds are not conditioned to the fast and furious.
  • Laundry machine: Apartments have their common laundry rooms where you have to pay for washing and drying separately. Why can’t they just provide this service free of cost or have machines in every unit? Some apartments have installed new machines but the one in my apartment is coin operated and quite obviously belongs to the dinosaur age. Every time we have to make a run to our Bank for quarters!
  • Food: I shouldn’t complain about this because its always difficult for Indians to adjust their taste palette to the food offered in Western countries. However, apart from the absence of flavor, the taste is consistent across restaurants here! They use the same condiments, measurements, and method of cooking everywhere. And, if you know the basic ingredients you can replicate the dishes at home.
  • Home Delivery: The joy of one-day free home delivery seems like a luxury here because nobody delivers anything for free. Back in India, I could order food from any restaurant or get anything delivered to my home on the same day. But, in the US, packages take a minimum of 4-5 days to reach and that too at a price. If you order food, there will be a delivery charge combined with a customary tip to the delivery boy.
  • Absence of domestic help: The nightmare of every Indian woman! I was so used to domestic help at all times that cleaning dishes and cooking three meals a day seemed out-of-line with my physical abilities. Manual labour is extremely expensive here which leaves you alone with all the household chores.
    The chores also include assembling your furniture from IKEA, packing your leftovers at restaurants, and dragging your belongings through multiple floors. Tired!
  • Public Transport: We don’t own a car yet and that makes life miserable, literally. Cabs are expensive and grocery stores far & few. Buses, the only form of public transport, make only few runs during the whole day. And carrying multiple grocery bags from the bus stop to home is not the best feeling in the world, especially when the temperature drops low to the point of freezing your bone marrow.
  • Invisible Neighbours: “Love thy neighbour”, should be succeeded by “if you ever get to see them”. I live in an apartment complex where my main door is adjacent to three other units, yet I never get to see anyone. 
  • Healthcare: You will not get to see a Doctor. In an emergency, be prepared to spend a fortune to see one. I fail to understand why such a basic necessity is made out to be a luxury here.
    One friend of mine was down with fever and decided to visit a hospital. Eventually, he had to come back home without consulting a Doctor because people just kept referring him to meet someone or other around the hospital. Another one received a bill of $500 because he cut his finger and went for an emergency treatment.
Have you had similar experiences here?! Would love to know your thoughts.
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Things Which Irked me in America

20 thoughts on “10 things which Irked me in America”

    1. Haha! Despite all that, there are a lot of good things in America! I stay in Chicago now and the food scene here is beyond amazing. So, yeah I was quite judgemental back then, but that’s how most expats are initially!
      Thanks for reading, Bistra 🙂

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  1. I hope you come to appreciate the uniqueness of each place you visit and live in. I live in a city that is in the middle of nowhere…seriously you have to drive 18 hrs (1) way in one direction or (8) hrs in the opposite to be in a Metropolitan…flying is much easier. Its amazing when you are accustomed to something how you miss it…assistance with daily chores or running of a household is often on the shoulders of the woman in addition to working a fulltime, job being a chauffer, cook etc etc. I am enjoying your blog and hope that you find interesting activities in which to participate. Hi from Thunder Bay Ontario – Canada

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    1. Thanks Mary for your kind words!
      I am feeling much better now and when I wrote this post I had just arrived so was missing everything back home terribly. Now, I enjoy being here and have accepted the fact that every place is different so you really can’t compare 🙂
      And, once you start exploring you start loving the uniqueness that each place offers!

      I am glad that you enjoyed reading my blog 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I can relate to how difficult it is adjusting to a new place, culture and way of life as an expat! I think it’s important to remember that America is a big country, and Cincinnati is a big city! Try to not a few bad experiences taint your perception of America as a whole (easier said than done 🙂 ). For example, many apartments do come with laundry in your apartment, it just depends on your budget and the apartment complex. And we’ve all had unfriendly waiters, but a lot are friendly and professional. Also, have you tried Amazon Prime for home delivery? They have free two day delivery if you upgrade to their prime service (which *does* cost money), and in bigger cities (like Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles) they have free same day delivery. We’ve also lived in neighborhoods in America where we never saw our neighbors, but others where we made great friends and spent time with them every day! I hope things get a bit easier for you, and I don’t think expressing your frustration is whining–it’s a big change! Good luck, and thanks for the like on wordygertie.com. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the motivation. I know I would be fine in sometime and love to enjoy the life here eventually. But, its just the initial change that made me pen down my thoughts. Every place is different and one shouldn’t compare, but its human to be irrational. Glad you like my posts!
      Keep coming back.

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  3. This really made me laugh! It truly is opposite of all the things I experienced in India! LOL. The thought of domestic help was really scary to me.. Especially when I heard the term “servant” used by several people. That, to an American, sounds terrible! I also missed my privacy as soon as I realized all my neighbors love to just come pop in whenever they feel like it..I am so glad you followed my blog and I can follow yours! 😀

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    1. I totally get your perspective! Its not that something is bad with some place, its just the stark difference which makes one question his/her decision to move. But, eventually you just get used to life everywhere. I hope you enjoy the madness in India.

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  4. I moved 1 mile down the road from where I grew up in the UK and noticed a huge difference… At home everyone knew each other, would be out talking until late was on hand if you needed anything (day or night) here I don’t see anyone, nobody speaks when you do see them! It’s isolating so I can understand you’re feeling like you’re whining over it but when you’re used to ‘people’ being around it’s hard when new place isn’t like it, as well as the cultural change, and cultural etiquette is sometimes the hardest to overcome, but hang on in there I’m sure it wont be long before you find likeminded people to hang out with x

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      1. I know, I think when you’re used to that it’s really hard to end up anywhere where people are closed off… I’ll keep fingers crossed for you x

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  5. Ironically, I miss the “eerie” silences! My hometown in the US is about 30,000 people. I’m now living in a “big” city of 225,000. I am never alone on the streets. I miss being completely alone in a park while running and having my own space from other people. When I tell than to other internationals, they just laugh and laugh and laugh.

    Good luck with adjusting! It takes time, but everything will feel normal enough soon. 🙂

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    1. I totally get it. Its always difficult to adjust with something completely opposite! I am always thinking here that all the neighbourhoods have so many houses, but where are the inhabitants?!

      Maybe that’s how people like it here, as you said! Back in my hometown, everyone would be out in the evenings, talking, gossiping, snacking and what not.

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  6. Being an expat is not the easiest thing. I found adjusting my expectations and not comparing my home country to my current home helped me adjust the most. I also found making friends with the locals and not hanging around other expats helped, too. Good luck! 🙂

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  7. I can certainly relate to the eerie silence, public transportation and healthcare situations because I had studied in Australia before many, many moons ago. I was in a city where the main shopping mall was closed on Sunday; I didn’t drive back then (it was very difficult carrying grocery bags on a bus and walking uphill to campus!); and I couldn’t see a doctor unless I made an appointment (even though I had a raging fever and a bad cough)..and I must have private healthcare insurance. If I didn’t have insurance, I would have to pay an exorbitant amount. In some ways, Malaysia is like India – domestic help is easily accessible, healthcare is relatively cheaper, and definitely not quiet! Hang in there girl, you will adjust, sooner or later 🙂

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    1. I am trying to see the positive side of this place now cause I am done whining! But, yes Asia is wonderful and more lively. And, when you have spent a major portion of your life at one place, the difference is stark!

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