Expat life here in America is very much a work in progress, and much progess has indeed been made, but … there are just a few things I cannot seem to stop shaking my head at, either in confusion, amazement or astonishment. I am sure we have all encountered things on our travels like this.
Below is my list, by no means comprehensive, but rather a quirky look at some of the things that get this English girl wondering …
1. Cheese in a Can & Parmesan with Wood Shavings
Cheese Spray is available in the UK too – it just seems to be a big thing over here. There is quite a selection to choose from in the spray-on-food aisle, and to be brutally honest – it is truly awful. The taste does not resemble cheese in any way and it leaves me wondering why … just why?
The other cheese related thing that has me rather perturbed is the recent discovery via Bloomberg News that many store bought ‘100% real Parmesan Cheese’ actually contain wood shavings. Or more specifically a wood byproduct (cellulose) in percentages that are rather shocking (some were 9% wood byproduct) – so not 100% real Parmesan at all. Sometimes I do wonder what the food industry is all about over here and what its justifications are for these types of practises – but then again, this is the land of the mighty pizza crust wrapped in 3.5 feet of bacon …
2. TV Medical Adverts
Never before had I seen medicines advertised on television. These are possibly the strangest adverts because they have to list all possible side effects and seem to go on for an inordinate amount of time. I can go off and make a cuppa, and the announcer is still excitedly telling me how amazing this new drug is, while informing about the possibility of going bald etc etc. It is not just the odd painkiller or flu/cold advert but serious medications for serious conditions which they advise you ask your doctor to try – like I know which drugs would be good!
What is even more worrying is usually after a few minutes of a medicine being extolled as the new cure for x, y and alarmingly itchy, it is followed by a law firm ad looking to sue on your behalf if you took the previously advertised drug that had brought on dangerous health issues. Medicine is big money here, so buyer beware.
3. Drive-Thru Banks & ATMs
When I first came across a drive-thru bank, I just about lost my mind with futuristic excitement. It felt like I was in some kind of episode from The Jetsons, with pneumatic tubes whisking off deposit slips in little containers to return with your receipt or cash. I really enjoy using these, just because it is not something I personally ever saw in the UK and I feel like I have travelled into the year 2150.
4. Tax Refunds
When the time comes for tax refund season, you fill out your information from your tax papers that are sent to you and you get a rebate after it is calculated what you over/unnecessarily paid. This happens every year. You do get a nice lump sum to pay off bills or buy something new, if you get one, but it confuses me as basically everyone who works and pays taxes is being over taxed. The government then send out enormous amounts of money to all who need to get what they overpaid back. Why not just get the tax code/bracket accurate so this does not have to be done every year? I am sure there is a reason, if you know, please enlighten me … but there is no denying, getting a rebate every year as opposed to the once-in-a-blue-moon one you would get in the UK is rather nice.
5. Biscuits and Gravy
Tried it again a few times, and I am sorry America, but I just cannot get behind it as a tasty meal. I recently saw the video clip below, and was not surprised that everyone who tried it was less than delighted with it too. I gave it a good try, I really did, but this has me shaking my head with ‘no thank you, I will pass’.
What things do you find you just cannot get used to where you live (expat or not) or on your travels?