I think I’m pretty lucky to have grown up in the United States and even luckier to be a midwest gal. Thanks to my corn-fed American roots, I’ve been given opportunities that are just pipe dreams for kids growing up in less developed or even worse, war torn, countries. But nowhere is perfect and while I’m “Prouddddd to be an Americannnnnn” (a majority of the time), there are definitely things I don’t miss about livin’ in the land of the free compared to my life in La France.  

If you prefer to catch the 10 things that I don’t miss about living in the US, video style, you’ve got all the goods below for your viewing pleasure! Otherwise, let’s check out some of those American things I don’t mind doing without these days. 

SUPERIORITY COMPLEX

In the USA, we pretty much think we are the absolute BEST at everything. There is something so positive about that immense amount of confidence, but it spills over into what seems to be a whole lotta ignorance. Now France absolutely has its share of the “we are better than everyone else” attitude. Especially if we talk about fashion or food where the French are known to be top dogs. But they tend to be a bit more subtly arrogant about it than we Americans are. We like to rub it in your face and then take it even one step further. Look at the World Series of Baseball and the NBA World Championship. Tell me how many other countries are allowed to participate in a competition where the winner is the “best in the world?”

During the US and French presidential elections in 2016 and 2017, you would hear American candidates claiming that “American is the greatest place on earth.” I’ve literally never heard this come out of a French person’s mouth about their homeland. And it’s not because they don’t potentially live in one of the greatest place on earth either. Check out this 2018 poll which ranks the best countries “on earth” based on real indicators like life expectancy, unemployment rate, health care etc… you’ll see that neither France nor the USA is part of the top 5, but one of those countries sure isn’t shy about tooting their (slightly incorrect) own horn!

SALES TAX

It is so refreshing to walk into a store in France and pick up a candy bar that costs 1 euro and then have the cashier ask for literally 1 stinkin’ euro. Why you ask? Because in this twist the tax is actually included in the price shown. :open_mouth: Do you remember the last time you were digging around for some extra change because you didn’t calculate exactly how much you needed with tax and you were short? Well, I don’t miss digging around in my wallet frantically looking for another quarter because my estimation came up short, but you could be thinking, who cares for small purchases? Perhaps. However, I REALLY don’t miss going to Best Buy for a splurge purchase and finding out that the fancy computer I spent months saving for at 999 dollars, actually rings up at 1,107 dollars with sales tax. Ehhhhhh, say what? 107 dollars is a lot of extra change to shell out on top of my already large purchase. What’s the harm in just showing the final price to everyone ahead of time? 

MEASUREMENT SYSTEM

I think someone might have been on their third glass of wine when they validated the US Customary Units System. We are one of three countries in the entire world that measures in feet, yard, inches, miles, pounds, gallons, fahrenheit…. I’m on a roll, so I don’t want to slow down, but you get the picture. And you wanna know why we are the only ones to use this system? Because it’s straight up whack. We just have to memorize a ton of conversions that make literally no sense because we didn’t want to use the system adopted by the “atheist French” hundreds of years ago. Why use the Celsius system where water boils at 100 and freezes at 0 when we can adopt the Fahrenheit system where water boils at 212 and freezes at 32… seems a lot less complicated right? And to top it off, the US government passed the Metric Conversion act in 1975 that made the metric system the preferred system of of measure for all US trade because literally no other country would deal with our ridiculous system any longer. :joy: 

HEALTHCARE

This is one that always becomes a huge debate, but I’m a strong believer that even if France’s health system isn’t perfect, it’s sure as heck better than anything you can have in the US if you are poor, sick or don’t have a job with solid benefits. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders to live in a country with universal healthcare for all.

I don’t have to worry about what would happen if I couldn’t work and pay bills because I was sick. I didn’t have to worry what would happen after college if I couldn’t find a job and I was too old to be on my parents health insurance, since I couldn’t afford private insurance on my own. I’m 8 months pregnant as I write this article and all my doctors appointments, blood draws, check ups etc.. to make sure the baby and I are doing well have been paid by the universal system since I hit 6 months. Of course, improvements could be made to the French system, but there are just too many people in the world who don’t have access to quality, affordable healthcare and it sucks to know that this is the case for many of my American compatriotes.

TELEVISION COMMERCIALS

These are the WORST! I think everyone would agree with me that television commercials are just fracken’ annoying in the US. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to fast forward through those endless advertisements that cut off at the most dramatic moment of the show…Every. Single. Time. And it’s no surprise we’re tired of them. A 30 minute tv show in the US has roughly 8 minutes of commercials and they don’t group the commercials together for a reason. It would be way too easy to go make some nachos and grab another beer during an 8 minute break. The French law caps commercials at 12 minutes for an entire hour. It doesn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference, but even 2 minutes is a literal life saver.

LOUD PEOPLE

I’m going to shout it from the rooftops in typical American fashion that we are RIDICULOUSLY loud when we communicate. I never felt like I was shouting when I grew up in the states, but let me tell ya, compared to the French, we are complete screamers. I can spot an American from a mile away in Paris thanks to the way they are workin’ those vocal chords. Though to be honest, if you venture from France to Spain, you’ve stumble upon a population of people who speak even louder than those friendly Americans. Spain is actually known to have the loudest cities in the world. So while I don’t miss the shouting matches, i’m well aware that it could be worse!

OVERLY FRIENDLY STRANGERS

As a midwest girl, I love people who are warm and welcoming with strangers and you’ll never catch me saying that this is a strength for the French. BUT my midwest neighbours sometimes take their friendliness a bit farther than I’m comfortable with when I head home. Example, I’m waiting in line at the grocery store and the person behind me starts commenting on the food in my cart. “Ahhh looks like you’re going to have a barbecue. Be careful if you’re inviting friends over because it’s supposed to rain this weekend. Have you tried that brand of chips you’re buying because I bought them last time and didn’t love them.” My initial reaction was like, do I have to tell you about my personal life because I’m buying twenty hot dog buns and some chips in front of you? Where is the personal space man? However, then my mom just smiles kindly and has a friendly chat back and forth with them as we check out and I instantly feel like a total meanie. Stranger Danger has been hardcore installed since I arrived in France.

SIZE OF THE US

There’s some cool sides to living a big country, but I’ve become really partial to spending time in a country the size of Texas. Getting to the beach takes 2 hours instead of 14 hours. (Yes, my parents took us on some longggggg road trips to Florida.) It’s not out of the question to ski one weekend and swim the next without an insanely long car ride or a ridiculously expensive plane ticket. Even traveling to see family who live on the opposite side of France can easily be done in a weekend trip. Visiting my family just spread out in the midwest takes like 2 weeks minimum. In this case, smaller just simplifies the traveling experience and makes the weekend get away options seem endless!

CHAIN RESTAURANTS

I grew up in town with a lot of chain restaurants. My favorite restaurant growing up was Olive Garden. Those unlimited breadsticks were my jam. I’ve still got a soft spot for Olive Garden, but i’ve really adjusted and embraced the mom and pop run restaurant vibe. I love buying my bread every day from the same family who lives above their bakery, getting my favorite pizza from the Corsican family’s tiny restaurant down the street, and knowing that I’m spending my money supporting the community that I live in. I’m not perfect and tend to sneak a Starbucks chai tea latte on a too regular basis , BUT it’s already a big improvement from my Olive Garden and Red Lobster days.

RULES

There are a lottttttt of rules in the US and while rules are of course in place for a reason, they are kind of stifling when I go back there. What I find the most tiring is that a lot of the rules seem like they concern really unimportant, ridiculously simple things. However, society as a whole, just follows them anyways. In France, they have stupid rules sometimes too, but the French just don’t follow them if they think they are stupid. No parking here? Yea right, the space is big enough I’m parking. No dogs here? The lawn is right next to a dog park so I’m letting my dog run there. Don’t cross on red? There are never any cars, I’m crossing on red here. The French always question, analyse and then decide if they want to follow the rules. It’s kind of liberating to be part of a society that questions authority on a regular basis. As an avid rule follower, I like feeling like a rebel on a regular basis.

Ok I’ll stop here because ten things is more than enough. Plus there are over 100,000 Americans residing in France, so I’d love to hear about the things you don’t miss in the comments below! And if you’re an expat from another country, living somewhere different, don’t hesitate to share your experience too!

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