5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 2

Following on from this weeks ‘5 Things I Love about being an Expat in America…Part 2’ post, here’s the opposite to that – ‘5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 2.’ Like I said before, hate is a strong word and I don’t particularly hate the things on the list, it’s more a list of things I find different or miss from back home in the UK. Love and Hate just go better together than love and some things I miss/don’t like about life in America! So, without further ado, round 2…here we go:

Expat Hate

1. No Local Pubs
A local pub is something I seriously miss about life in America compared to life in the UK. Back in Leeds we had a local pub we would head to at some point every weekend. We could walk there, have a few drinks and some amazing pub food and then stroll home, not having to worry about somebody having to drive. Local pubs are a British tradition, you end up making friends with the people behind the bar, there’s an amazing atmosphere in them, often with open fires, quaint decor and good, traditional food. (You can find out more about our old local in this post.) Here in America everything is a drive away, restaurants aren’t very personal, nobody knows you, the service is always pretty rushed because of America’s convenience culture and there is always a designated driver. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate every restaurant in America, there’s definitely some good food to be had over here but nothing beats the great British pub! Here are some pics from my old local in Leeds, The Cross Keys. If you’re ever in the area make sure you check it out, you won’t be disappointed!

Cross Keys Collage
2. The lack of Roundabouts
This is a strange one but America does not do roundabouts, at least not in Atlanta anyway. Instead, you have traffic lights at an intersection, and, if you just miss a light be prepared to sit and wait for a long time. We’re talking at least 5 minutes in some cases, depending which part of the junction you are on. If you’re heading somewhere and you hit every red light, you need to add at least another 15 minutes to your journey. I can’t remember the amount of times I’ve been late because I have forgotten to factor in the amount of red lights on the way and the chance of catching every single one! Roundabouts make life so much simpler, you move when there’s no traffic coming, give way to the right (if you’re in the UK of course, the left over here in America) and traffic moves along much quicker. I don’t know if it’s because of the huge roads here in America (many have at least 4 lanes) or what but the only time you ever spot a small, tiny roundabout in Georgia is tucked away on a housing estate somewhere. Maybe I should start a campaign to bring roundabouts to America? Erm…maybe not. Maybe I’ll just add more time onto my journey instead!

3. Always wondering if it will end.
Being an expat in America on a visa that depends on the German’s job is sometimes a little worrying. His contract is open-ended so right now we have no idea if or when our American journey could end. There’s obviously some stability, the German has a job and our visas are valid for 5 years but at the back of your mind there’s always that little worry that this might end and then what? If the German doesn’t have a job tomorrow (touch wood he does, go on touch some!) then we have to be out of the country in 30 days. Nice, right? At the moment I feel like we have finally got settled in Atlanta, we have a nice group of friends that is ever-expanding and there are so many more things we want to do, not only in Atlanta but in the rest of America. If the plug got pulled tomorrow I wouldn’t want to go back home just yet. I’m not saying I’ll never want to go back but right now I’m happy to stay here for a while longer. The fear will always be there, you just have to try not to think about it too much and experience as many things as you can.

4. The Chocolate

Idiots excited for chocolate!

Idiots excited for chocolate!

Now I’m not saying American chocolate is bad but British chocolate definitely rules superior! You cannot beat a big chunk of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk or a Cadbury’s Caramel bar. It’s just so much creamier and melt in the mouth than the stuff you get here in America. I think the worst culprit here is Hershey’s, the plain chocolate is so bitter and weird tasting to me I can’t eat the stuff. The cookies and cream version is another story though – that stuff is amazing! Whenever we have visitors over we ask them to bring us some supplies, the last being my brother who stocked us up on huge bars of Dairy Milk in various flavours (milk, fruit and nut, Crunchie and jelly beans and popping candy) along with Creme Eggs, Mini Eggs, Caramel bars and Malteaser Bunnies – it was Easter after all! We’re slowly making our way through it (even the wedding dress diet can’t keep me away from Dairy Milk!) and will be ready for another delivery once Ma Cook comes along in September! I also have to point out that, after opening that huge bar of chocolate in the picture on the left late one Saturday night it took us about 12 minutes to finish the whole bar! Whoops! I only know that because we text my brother to tell him we were going in, then text him to say we’d polished it off, according to him there was around 12 minutes between the 2 text messages. Oh dear.

5. Town/City Centers
I so miss being able to park up my car and walk from shop to shop in a town or city center where every shop I need, no matter what it is, is within walking distance. I can be outside in the fresh air, strolling along, picking up some shopping along the way, stopping off for a drink or some lunch and getting everything on my list in one stop. This just does not happen in America. Here, you have to drive from strip mall to strip mall, stopping off at the actual mall on the way, a lunch spot for some food and then to a CVS or Walgreens on the way home because there isn’t a Boots style chemist shop in the mall, I mean, seriously, it would make things so much easier if CVS and Walgreens opened stores in the mall, it would save loads of time. Things are never close to each other either, you have to drive at least 10 minutes to run each errand and things end up taking a lot longer than you expected to complete. Give me a town center with everything in reach any day!

So there you have it, another installment of ‘5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America.’ What do you think? Do you agree? Anything for me to add to the next list?

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29 thoughts on “5 Things I Hate about being an Expat in America…Part 2

  1. I agree with you on so many points. Some of the older suburb towns in these parts have walk able town centers along one or two long stretches of road that you can actually park your car and pop between say the Post Office, Starbucks and go clothes shopping, the vast majority, including where we live, nah not an option. If you like your roundabouts, come to Michigan we have a few although they confuse the life out of drivers that’s for sure! They actually seem to be an increasing feature in new or changing road layouts i’ve noticed.

    • I really miss being able to walk around Leeds city center, grab something from Boots, Oasis and have a cheeky look in Primark (always has to be done, even if you walk through and think everything is a pile of crap!) and pick up a Starbucks and some lunch without having to drive anywhere! It seems the north does have a lot of roundabouts – I say I miss them but I think if they were introduced here there would be so many car wrecks…

      • I totally understand where you’re coming from. I miss the shops in Leeds and everything being so close. I was shopping in walmart recently and got so excited when I clapped my eyes on Persil liquid.

      • I miss having a city centre! Leeds was always one of my favorites – especially when we lived in the city center and could just walk into town for the afternoon/evening. Now, everywhere we go we have to drive! I guess you get used to it though. I can imagine the excitement – I have the same reactions sometimes when I spot something British! xx

  2. Another great list that I (an American) totally agree with.

    I miss the Norwegian chocolate when I’m visiting family in the States. I used to think Hershey’s was the best. Now it just tastes artificial and grainy!

    New Jersey has roundabouts — and they’re scattered in other parts of the country — but I agree with you, there should be many more! Traffic flows so much better!

    And pubs. Oh wow, I only spent five days in the London area, but those were life-changing as far as pubs go! 🙂 Can’t wait to get back to explore more of them throughout England! 🙂

    • I’m always pleased when an American agrees with me!
      I’m sorry but Hershey’s is definitely nasty – like you say, artificial and grainy.
      I do think that if they introduced roundabouts in Atlanta there would be even more traffic chaos because people wouldn’t know how to deal with them.
      And pubs…I’m already excited for my trip back to England in August just to go to a pub!

  3. I totally agree with 2, 3, 4 and 5.
    I’m also an expat spouse and our existence in America all depend on my wife’s E2 visa that we have to extend every 5 years. I really feel your frustration. And we’ve been trying the greencard lottery 10 years now without success.

  4. My husband would agree with you on almost all of these! He misses local pubs and british chocolate the most 🙂 There are lots of roundabouts in DC!

    • Pubs and chocolate are definitely up there! I have a constant stash of Dairy Milk in the cupboard – it’s something every guest has to bring or they’re not allowed to stay! I say I miss roundabouts but I think if they did introduce them in Atlanta there would be chaos!

  5. I grew up in a very small town in New Jersey, and we had a town center then. I could just walk to the drugstore, grocery store, butcher, bakery, and newsstore. It was wonderful, and we loved it. I miss that a lot! Now I have to throw the kids in the car and drive there. However, if you miss roundabouts, come to New Jersey. We have tons of them (although some of them were so unsafe because of so much traffic, they ran the roads right thru the middle, but you still have to use the outer parts! Check out Eatontown circle on maps.google.)

    • Having a town center is so good, I have some errands to run today and I’m going to have to stop off at least 4 times! It seems I do need to head to the north – a few people have said there are roundabouts up there. Maybe it’s just Atlanta that hasn’t caught on yet? I don’t think they’d go down very well here though…

    • I once tried the ‘Cadbury’ Mini Eggs here in the States (the ones made under licence by Hershey’s) they just weren’t the same. The creamy chocolate taste just wasn’t there. I can find the Dairy Milk here, it’s just so much more expensive than I’m used to!

  6. As an American, I wish I lived around more pubs as well. Also, I could do for some better chocolate! However, as far as number 5 goes, I feel like you are just in the wrong part of America! I live in a rural town in the midwest and I have been to many places where I can walk from shop to shop without the big city traffic hassle. I think that many of the things you don’t see in Atlanta can be seen in another place here… the U.S. is so large and has so much to offer! 🙂

    • Pubs and chocolate – the essentials in life! I’m sure you’re right and other places we go to will allow me to walk from shop to shop, I know we’ve already done that in some of the smaller towns around here. The U.S. definitely has a lot to offer – we’re slowly making our way around the states and exploring!

  7. Let me introduce you to See’s chocolate company…it originally started in California and they have stores all across the U.S. They offer unlimited free samples of chocolate so you could just stand there and try every single one of their hundreds of different chocolates for free! You’ll thank me later…

  8. Both of your “hate” lists made me laugh, so first off I will never tell another person I love your accent LOL, I use to do that but not any more. 🙂 I’ve lived in Atlanta for several years and the biggest disappointment for me is always having to drive everywhere ( I actually live in Kennesaw), and after visiting New York, and Portland, and even Nashville I very sad we do not even have a nice walking downtown area. I bought tickets to a concert in Nashville because I will be able to walk from the hotel to the venue then to any number bars to continue the night, if I went to the concert in Atlanta, I would drive to the concert and then drive home. Lastly, the chocolate, now when I visited London I did think the McDonald fries tasted different and the Dr. Pepper was very different, but I did not know chocolate was different. So, does Godiva and/ or Toblerone Chocolate taste different in the States? Oh BTW, have you visited Atlantic Station in Midtown? you can actually spend the day shopping, eating, going to the movies and there is a Publix there too…you can have a full fun day there. It won’t be anything like Leeds but it has some variety. Right, now on to your lists about London. I hope to visit England again soon. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by the blog and checking out my lists! The driving everywhere is definitely one of my biggest pet hates about Atlanta – I do love the place though! Yep, I’ve checked out Atlantic Station, like you say it’s nothing like Leeds but at least you can walk around like you’re in a town centre! Definitely head back to England soon!

      • UK vaca is definitely in the works. Just thought, if you haven’t visited Marietta Square and downtown Norcross you might enjoy a Saturday afternoon walking around these areas too. I believe both have little British shops, of course restaurants, clothing and park areas nearby.

  9. Hi, I actually hate the lack of cycling where I live. Here in the suburbs of Nashville, I bike to work and I am only one of two people I have seen doing it. The other guy is only a part time bike commuter. Part of my ride is on a vacant sidewalk since a main stretch does not include a bike lane and the City I live in has no lengthy paths over one mile long for pedestrians. Luckily there are sidewalks everywhere here in my suburb and that is why I chose it, yet cycling is very frustrating here and even new roads are designed mostly for drivers. It is not illegal here to park in the bike lane, either, which motorists do routinely.

    I have been to Germany before and that is what I loved most about it, walking everywhere and being so pedestrian friendly. I try to live a Europe like lifestyle here, but it’s challenging and I am still viewed by drivers as an “odd anomaly” because only children ride bikes??? (said the obese drivers)

    • Hey Dan, thanks for stopping by the blog! I know what you mean about the lack of cycling, hardly anybody cycles here in Atlanta, it’s pretty dangerous on some of the roads too. Thankfully, close to where we live it’s very bike friendly with cycles lanes – good news for the German who’s a keen cyclist! There are also a few bike trails around but I think they have a speed limit which the German isn’t too pleased about! A lot of people here just don’t want cyclists on the road at all.

      That’s exactly what I miss about Europe – being able to walk places. I used to love walking through a town center, walking to the park and everywhere else. Here, wherever I go I have to take the car. Keep up the attempts at a European lifestyle!

  10. We had a roundabout, or traffic circle, near where I lived in San francisco. It was an exercise in futility, however, as every entrance had a stop sign anyway!

    I moved back to the UK this year and, despite the winter weather being a tad colder than California, I couldn’t be happier to return to Europe. The U.S. is not for me, personally, spent most of my years there missing Europe terribly…

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