If you’ve been following my posts, you know its been a while since I’ve added anything. That is, in part, due to a trip we took back over to the USA. Every time I go, I am struck by the effect living overseas has had on me and what it is like to return to the “homeland”. I always enjoy it, but you definitely look at things differently. To that point, here are some random observations from this last trip:
1) The freeways. Almost every time we return stateside, we travel through Los Angeles. And every time I get in a car and onto the LA freeways, it is white knuckle time! So many cars! Going so fast! 8 lanes of traffic on either side of the road. In Sydney, I can go a month at a time without ever exceeding 80 kph (50 mph) on 2 lane roads. So, roads in LA — and the rest of the big cities in the US — are quite a challenge right out of the gate.
2) Related to that, I now like to call myself an ambidextrous driver. Meaning I can drive on the wrong side of the road in EITHER country! On this trip I was on the wrong side in a parking garage. And I did get the stink eye from another driver!
3) The food. I don’t find WHAT is eaten too shocking, though others in my family do. (do Americans have to have cheese on everything? they say… I say… Why not!). But what is shocking is how much you get. A normal person simply cannot finish the amount of food that you are served in a restaurant. These are two common theme among our Aussie friends who have visited the US — huge portions of food smothered in exorbitant amounts of cheese. Shocking that some Americans have weight issues!!
4) The bottomless drink. Then again, I guess you need a lot of liquid to go with all that food! But as my kids said to me on this last trip — in Australia we pay $3 or more for a 12 oz can of Coke. In the US, you get an endless suppy of Coke, limited only by your ability to guzzle it down, for under $2. I can tell you for sure that when my son took a basketball tour of the US with his Aussie team, this was the most exciting thing about America they discovered in 3 weeks.
5) Big sporting events. One of the reasons for the this trip was attending the Final Four. It is the largest sports event I have ever attended. And I can tell you unequivocally it was great. Americans know how to create a huge, must see, sporting event. And this year’s Final Four delivered. The vibe in Indianapolis on Semi Saturday, with Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke and Michigan State fans revving up for the games was so good even my wife loved it. What I once said about American national parks after visiting Yosemite, I can now say about major US sporting events: Wow, if they are all like this, I need to go to all of them!
6) Campus Life. The other theme of the trip was to visit potential colleges for my my school junior son. He’ll finish high school in Australia, but his dream is college in the USA. After this trip, what a great dream. We visited 7 schools in the midwest and California — and they were almost universally great. Beautiful campuses. Endless possibilities and opportunities. New, life long friends to come. I came away excited about it all. More importantly, so did he. So, yes, the US education is expensive, but I think an expense well worth it for what it returns — both educationally and especially, experientially. I can’t wait to see what he chooses! And selfishly, I hope they have great sports teams for us to follow and root on together!
7) Sheer size and density. Yes, the United States and Australia are relatively close in size. But we took a 7 hour road trip from San Diego, CA to San Luis Obispo, CA. A distance of approximately 450 kilometers. And in that entire 450 kilometers, I think there were about 100 where we were out of a city/town area. Basically from San Diego all the way up the coast to Santa Barbara is one constant city. That doesn’t happen here in Australia — go 100 kilometers in ANY direction from Sydney, and you are out in the country — if not in the middle of nowhere.
But none of that is to say that I am not looking forward to the next time I jump into a huge left hand drive SUV, hit the 20 lane freeway (on the right side of the road!) with my massive Taco Bell burrito and 2 liter coke to drive through endless city after city and get to the next huge sporting event! Super Bowl 2016 anyone?? Or maybe the College Playoff National Championship Game?