So, we’ve had the third installment of 5 Things I Love about being an Expat in America, so now it’s time for 5 things I hate. Remember I don’t necessarily hate these things, it’s more things that annoy me or things that I miss from good old Blighty. Here goes:
1. Errands taking 3 hours
In America, and especially in Atlanta, running a couple of little errands like popping to the supermarket and the post office, can take a LOT longer than you expect. I usually estimate an hour for things like this then when I’ve finished, realise that about 3 hours have passed since I started and my plans for the day are ruined. I think this is because everything is a drive away even if they’re close together. You get caught in traffic, you’re on a strip mall and spot somewhere else you just have to bob into (ok, that’s an added extra that I don’t really need), the stores are so huge they take ages to make your way around, something you think is around the corner is actually about 5 miles away and takes longer to get to than you think. I’m still shocked by the amount of time it takes me and annoyed when I don’t get everything done that I wanted to!
2. Friends and family being so far away.
This is obviously a given when you’re an expat but some days they feel further away and you miss them more. Yes, there are things like Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook and good old text messages to keep you up to date but they can also highlight the fact you’re not with them and you are actually 4,000 miles away. Life goes on without you back home, people’s lives don’t go on hold just because you’re not there. I hate the fact I don’t get to see my friends as much as I’d like, don’t get to see their babies and bond with them like I would if I was living close by but it’s something I have to deal with. I chose to come here, I have to deal with the consequences. It makes you appreciate the time you actually do spend with them a lot more.
Atlanta is the city of traffic and it is hell on earth. Rush hour doesn’t last an hour, it lasts 3 hours in both the morning and the evening. I try to avoid leaving the house before 10am and making sure I’m home by 4pm at the latest, if not my journey time is about to double and I’ll probably spend most of it bumper to bumper with the car in front, my foot constantly poised over the brake…not fun at all. Add to that the bad drivers in Atlanta, squeezing in front of you when there really isn’t room, switching lanes at the last minute without using their indicator (turn signal if you’re American) and there are car wrecks everywhere. Not a day goes by without a huge wreck on one of the main roads in this city and, when that does happen, you may aswell go ahead and triple your journey time! In fact, I probably need to get a wriggle on and get back home soon or I’ll be bumper to bumper and in a foul mood when I walk through the door!
4. Ready Meals
Ok, so I don’t and never have eaten that many ready meals, I like to whip up my own concoctions in the kitchen, but, there are some days when you really can’t be bothered and a ready meal works just fine…unless you live in America. The only ready meals available in this country and frozen ones. Now, I have nothing against frozen food (the German’s cakes are frozen, frozen food makes us pennies) but these meals are just not nice, or at least the one I’ve tried didn’t cut it. I miss the fresh ready meals you can get from the fridge in the mecca that is Marks & Spencer, the nutritious, fresh meals that taste delicious and not like they’ve been hanging around somewhere for months and have freezer burn. They were also pretty good when the German was working away, now I actually have to plan what to eat and cook it…cooking for 1 is not my forte!
5. Nightly news that actually gives you the days news.
Unless you watch CNN (and that’s pretty repetitive), the only news you’re going to learn about is the latest shooting, murder, deal at Krispy Kreme or car wreck in Atlanta. Seriously. The news here is local to the core which, is definitely acceptable, I used to work in local news back home and being truly local is definitely important, but not when it lasts for 2 hours in the evening, an hour and a half at night, containing just about 2 minutes of national news and literally no international news what-so-ever. It’s as if nothing goes on outside of Atlanta. Back in the UK we would have 30 minutes of national and international news followed by 30 minutes of local news – the perfect balance if you ask me. You need to know what’s going on in the rest of the world as well as around the corner, it’s ultimately going to have an impact on your life in some way, probably more than the latest shooting. Give me the BBC news anyday!