Back in the days of forums, one of my favorite threads was “Today I Learned…” where, obviously, people would fill in the rest of that sentence. I’ve made it to the land of Cyprus, and am no longer privy to the particulars of America (and Mexico, which is really just an extension of America.) So let’s catalogue some of those particulars…
- Americans will put up with a surprising amount of illogic. As an example, my flight from Cancun to Chicago landed early. Which seemed great, until I saw a flash of lightning. Which turned into two hours on the tarmac, waiting to be allowed to go to our gate. When we finally did move to the gate, I realized that the gate had been literally one minute away. I gather that they just couldn’t connect us to the gate during lightning? (Yet we could wait out the lightning storm in a claustrophobic airplane.) Which was the most illogical tarmac wait of my life. And I heard multiple people being like “That’s just how it is. It’s nobody’s fault…” And I was like “…..it’s the FAA’s fault, duh.”
- The FAA/TSA is ridiculous. Taking off my flip flops to walk across dirty American airport floors has to be my least favorite airport experience. I also constantly block out of my mind (and am repeatedly infuriated anew) that when I transfer from normal international flights to flights into America, they’re going to require special (i.e. extraneous) carry-on baggage screenings. Why can’t I bring a tiny sealed habanero sauce without checking my bag? Come on, ya’ll, other countries wouldn’t bat an eyelid at that! I also received an email warning that TSA lines might be long for each of my flights from American airports. I, of course, go to the airport two hours early, as suggested. And then sit at the gate for at least an hour. But why the email? Why raise people’s anxiety when they’re already anxious about travelling?
- Mexico is totally just an extension of the USA. I forgot to bring cash with me when I went and I definitely didn’t change anything to pesos. But I faced zero problems. Even when I tried to use my credit card (which gets reported as fraudulent when I try to purchase from foreign ISPs or websites all the time.) But Mexico, no problemo! Also, I think I saw more white people in Cancun than I did at any of the international airports I frequented within the states.
- The racism really is systemic/unnoticed-by-most. When I told people that I was going to marry my boyfriend when I move to Cyprus, people had no shame asking if I was afraid that he was going to change after we got married. And by “Are you afraid he’ll change?” they really meant “Are you afraid he’ll start to beat you and control your every move?” Can you imagine asking a woman if her white fiance is going to “change” when they get married? It’s just not something normal to ask. But the question was posed to me with zero hesitation or shame or second thoughts of tact. Because I am marrying an Arab Muslim and it’s totally ok to wonder about him. (I have a scheduled post that talks more about the racism because I found it fascinating.)
- Americans read a hell of a lot. I did very much miss the prevalence of books. So many book stores, books easily delivered to my door, people talking about books, people talking about writing. I don’t know why Americans are so into books, or if it’s just the people I happen to know there versus the ones I know abroad, but it was a very noticeable change. And I definitely enjoyed it.