Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What I miss about America

Of course what I miss most about America are my family and friends. But besides them, these are the things I miss the most. I miss the friendly people and spontaneous conversation that pops up almost anywhere you go. These are things that I would have never even thought I liked until now. For example, when I was shopping at Costco in Stockton the last time I was home, I only had a few items in my cart, the person in front of me said, "Oh, please go ahead". Then the next person in front of me said the same thing! Speaking of Costco, I miss not being able to go there at the spur of the moment and the drive taking only 10 minutes (from my parents' house). When we go to Costco here, it takes us 90 minutes to drive to Yokohama. And it costs over $50 bucks just on highway tolls and gas!

Let's talk food. Many people make fun of "American" food and say how lousy it is. I can't really argue against that but what I can argue about is that we have a huge variety of cuisines to choose from. My hometown is just slightly larger than Odawara but we have a wide variety of ethnic foods and some of the best Mexican, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants. And until a few years ago, my friend, James, ran a restaurant called Yonedas that served some of the best Japanese food found in California. I also miss "mall food" such as "Cinnabon", "Mrs. Fields Cookies" and "Auntie Anne's Pretzels". Oh, and I miss "Jamba Juice"!

I miss being able to go out with $40 bucks (4000 yen) and not feel so poor. OK, that was awhile ago but it does go much further than it will here. I also used to love to go to the local park/school (or even in my backyard) and play basketball, for free! Here if you don't belong to a team (luckily I do), it's nearly impossible to play. This is the same for tennis. Back home, you can play tennis for free at the neighborhood park. Here you have to join a club (usually $100/month) or make a reservation to use the city facilities ($6/hour).

Finally, I miss the diversity of people we have in the states and the abundance of beautiful nature. Snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, uncrowded clean beaches and the big blue sky are all in my state, the "Golden State" of California. Someday I'd like to return to my home country. But right now, I'm very very happy to be here. :)