An Expat In America


irish us flags

I moved to the U.S. as a green card holder in 1995. I became a naturalized citizen in 2000. However, I still consider myself Irish and I’m sure I’ll never think of myself as American. Coming up to this 4th of July, I’ve been thinking about our time living here especially since we’re in the process of packing up our house in advance of our family world trip. To that end, here’s a random set of observations about the good old U.S. of A. – from the expat perspective.

* It seems that every time I’m on the freeway for longer than thirty minutes I pass someone hauling a mattress. I don’t know that I have ever seen a mattress on a car or truck in Ireland. Ever.

* You should be immensely proud of the National Parks. They’re amazing. The State Park system in the states I’m most familiar with (Washington, Oregon, California) are worth mentioning too.

* You do realize that the number of questions asked when ordering a cooked breakfast in the U.S. is enough to leave any first-time visitor tongue-tied, right?

* Speaking of which, the two hardest things for me to order at a restaurant or cafe are tuna and water – and that’s with my very best American accent. Small words, totally different vowel sounds.

* The first time someone asked me “Paper or plastic?” at a grocery store, I replied “I’ve got cash here”. Boy, did I feel stupid.

* Micro-brewery beer is a fantastic idea. It’s sad that everyone outside the U.S. thinks that Budweiser is a great American beer. They are really missing out.

* Pitchers are another great idea. I’m sure the only reason they’re not common in Ireland is because a pitcher of Guinness would be all wrong. It’s a pity really.

* All American stores seem to start advertising Valentine’s Day the day after they take down the President’s Day banners (and similarly for all subsequent holidays). Am I the only one living in this country who would like a break between these assaults on my wallet just once in a while?

* Americans work way too much. Intellectually I understand that the 300 million great American consumers are the engine of the U.S. economy. Emotionally, I think an extra week vacation time as standard would do wonders for the national psyche.

* I will never understand why it’s OK to get married, vote, enlist in the army and drive a car at 18 (or younger) but you can’t drink a beer until you’re 21.

* Before I moved here I didn’t know who Lewis and Clarke were and I hadn’t heard of the Louisiana Purchase – and that’s just for starters. I won’t hold it against you if you don’t know some of the finer details of Irish history.

I think that’s enough for now.
If you have an oddity about living in the U.S. you’d like to add, please do so in the comments below. If you want to counter with oddities you observed while visiting Ireland or hanging out with Irish friends, feel free to leave that too.

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About wandermom

". . .life is short and the world is wide" - Simon Raven I'm not sure I've ever consciously planned a trip based on this sentiment, but it definitely influences my subconscious! I've been traveling as frequently and widely as possible since I finished school. And I love it. I love the research, the planning, the fervent packing and the curiosity of exploring somewhere I've never been before. My husband & I are both Irish - as in born-in-Ireland. But we live in Seattle. We have two boys: wild, boisterous, regular boys. So, since becoming a Mom, I've been a WanderMom. Given our slightly-unusual family situation, routine "visits-to-Grandma" are international trips requiring passports, 10hr-flights and (oh joy!) airport transfers. I have rants, raves and opinions about how, where & why to travel with kids (start them as young as you can, I say!). I hope to learn even more by researching topics which other wandermoms may be interested in reading about on this blog. Passports, pacifiers, diapers and gameboys at the ready - off we go! Contact Info: Email Michelle: michelle (at) murphnduff (dot) org

3 thoughts on “An Expat In America

  1. phxbne

    The questions ordering breakfast – or dinner at a diner – still make my head spin. I am an Aussie, and sometimes ordering ‘Coke’ causes me problems. Water too.

  2. wandermom

    @phxbne: The water thing is weird isn’t it? I tried to express the difference phonetically + couldn’t do so. (waa-der vs waa-t-er? maybe?)

  3. Vera Marie Badertscher

    I think this is fascinating. Since Americans seem to dominate the blogosphere, spouting off about their opinions about other countries, I always love to hear how others see the U.S. Wish there would be more of it on the web.

    I’ve just returned from a short road trip between neighboring states, and believe me sometimes you can fell like an outlander in a different region or state!

    And by the way, U.S. citizens hate the early start stores get on holidays, too.

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