Oh the things we take for granted! Living in the U.S. you are truly spoiled with the finer things in life. The modern luxuries of my home country seemed so basic and essential at one point and now I long for them. These silly little things are more funny than serious but I really am grateful to have had them all my life.
Writing from the Johannesburg airport during my 8 hour layover to Munich. Excited to start my Europe adventure while dreaming of some of these American luxuries.
I never let myself expect or need these things and will always be grateful when I have them. Aside from that, this has been a great venting session. :)
1. general Efficiency
This is something I never even thought twice about but my goodness is the U.S. efficient. Anything from managing a business to waiting tables to operating any sort of system, the U.S. is on another level. There is a motivation and pride behind work in the U.S. that is rare in the world. Well done, USA!
2. Access to healthy food
In most countries this is sadly hard to come by. In the two places I lived in the U.S. (NYC and CA), I at least always had access to organic vegetables and foods. I loved my regular grocery stores and restaurants and often miss them when I find myself in food deserts around the world. I admit even within the U.S. these food deserts exist...
3. The ability to communicate
English may be the universal language but it isn't spoken everywhere. I am so happy when we come across others that speak English - it makes everything so easy.
4. The basics: electricity and hot water
The power goes out frequently in so many countries like South Africa and Vietnam. What a gift to have an efficient and well run energy system back home. And hot water that doesn't run out before you can rinse your conditioner? Pure. Luxury.
5. Hi-speed internet
This can get so freaking frustrating. My blog has crashed so many times after hours of work. Not only is wi-fi painfully slow in most of the world, it is expensive. Paying for 100MB (which is just about nothing might I add), is not uncommon.
6. Water so clean you can actually brush your teeth with it
What a baffling concept this is! After weeks of Southeast Asia travel I forgot what it was like to freely use a sink instead of a water bottle to brush your teeth. So convenient and so nice. Not to mention raw greens and salads will make you sick if washed in tap water like this. Clean water is a beautiful thing. Although, I must admit the U.S. has nothing on the clean water of Austria and Denmark.
7. Cooking with my top notch cookware
Ok, I am a bit of a snob when it comes to my teflon-free pans and Vitamix. I love my cookware at home - much of which I got in culinary school. Everything works so well and makes life easy. I can't even look at the scratched up pans that leach aluminum into food at some of the apartments I've stayed in without cringing. Just toxic.
8. Cleanliness and sanitation standards
The U.S. for the most part has very high standards that are regulated for cleanliness. Many places abroad have pet cats and dogs jumping on kitchen counters shaking dander off into the food. People touch raw food without washing their hands. One woman at a raw food place in South Africa (which I did not recommend in my healthy restaurant list FYI) handled money at a register then proceeded to make my wheatgrass shot with her unwashed bare hands - ewww. Money is probably the dirtiest thing in the world. Needless to say I didn't drink it. Not a single person had gloves on in all of Turkey either when handling food. Thank you to all those kind souls in the U.S. that put gloves, you are awesome.
9. A minimum of mosquitos and other creepy insects
I am too used to sleeping in a mosquito net that I have to crawl in and out of just to use the restroom in the middle of the night. Even in much of Africa and all of Thailand a mosquito net is necessary. Like most things on this list, it is not a big deal but so nice when you don't have to deal with it. Not to mention there is no fear of malaria or other diseases from mosquitos back home.
10. freedom of expression
I really appreciate not only the ability to do this but the act of doing so. Anyone that seemed over opinionated and obnoxiously expressive in the past I now admire. It is sad to see people muted in some countries. Going places where Google and non-government-funded programs are blocked is a serious reality check. The ability and actual act of self expression is so crucial for personal health and happiness. There were some countries where self expression was technically legal but so culturally frowned upon that something was off - the people seemed dulled. I am beyond grateful to be from a country where this is not the case.
11. Clean streets and nice buildings
Believe it or not, the U.S. is super clean. It is a sad sight but often I see trash in streets and cigarette butts everywhere (except Singapore of course). Buildings much of the time are unfinished or run down on top of that. The general look of neighborhoods and streets are really nice and pleasant in my fave USA.
12. Food delivery
The most tragic of all: no food delivery anywhere. I miss getting my beet burgers and green juices delivered in NYC. I wish I could get these especially on those travel days where I'm on an entirely different time zone and nothing is open near by.
13. Green smoothies
Cant find 'em anywhere! Then again, I am particular about my green smoothies. I can't stand when someone puts 2 leaves of spinach with 3 bananas in a blender then adds pineapple juice to blend it all up. Oh and they never forget the ice that takes up half the smoothie. It's nothing but a bloating, fiberless sugar fest. I bow down to the smoothie shops in the U.S. that made my smoothies extra green and healthy.
14. Clean nail salons
I'm scared of most nail salons I see. I brought my own manicure set on this trip but let's be honest, my hands look like a child did them. I am hoping to have some better luck in Europe...
15. Real, legit showers
I'm talking about a shower head that I can stand tall underneath with actual water pressure. Not only that, but one that doesn't leak water everywhere. The poor designs of some of these showers is just ridiculous. And poor Kyle at 6'2 having to crouch under these. Again, bravo USA for your efficiency and wonderful showers.
16. Not getting shuttled like cattle on a bus from the gate to the plane at the airport
Ok this may be the most ridiculous on the list but I have been flying so much. It seems every airport and every flight I've had so far involves getting stuffed into a shuttle bus with the rest of the passengers until everyone is sardined and immobilized then driven far away to the aircraft. I don't know why, but I loathe this process. I have to take seriously deep breaths to not lose it.
17. Vegan milks that are not soy
Almond, rice, hazelnut - oh the possibilities! All I can ever find is soy - which I don't drink anyways. I miss it all so much.
18. The beautiful landscapes
The U.S. has such beautiful scenery. Beaches, mountains, vast fields, city skylines - all so beautiful. I love exploring new places but I never forget how gorgeous North America is.
19. California beaches with actual waves
Born and raised in California, I love love love waves. In fact, I don't really understand beaches that just sort of sit there. They are nice and beautiful but seriously lacking excitement. Hours go by when I'm on a beach in San Diego ducking under waves. Nothing is more fun to me.
20. Elite yoga studios
I try and maintain my self practice on the road but I do miss the incredible studios of NYC and California. My favorite teachers and classes were a form of meditation and therapy for that will always be a special part of my life.
21. Non-smoking areas
As a non-smoker, having designated non-smoking areas is crucial to a general high-quality of life that apparently is not a given. I took for granted being able to go into restaurants, bars, and even hotel lobbies without having a cloud of smoke in my face. Clean air is a luxury.
22. Low smog-index
Speaking of clean air, the smog levels of the U.S. are actually low compared to many places I visited like Guangzhou and Seoul. Even NYC and Los Angeles are not looking too bad from a smog perspective after my world tour. Being able to see a blue sky is a wonderful thing I will never take for granted. I have to give a shoutout to New Zealand and South Africa for being so clear too.