Thoughts & Rants

America: Land of the Fat, Home of the Racists?

Recently I posted on Yik Yak, an app in which you anonymously post something similar to a tweet, and people can up-vote it if they like it or down-vote it to vote it off. It is all based on location and you can set your “home base” to one location and yak on it no matter where you are in the world. Yik Yak is mostly funny and relatable, but sometimes people cross the line.

My Yik Yak home base is Swansea and recently I posted “My American parents cannot understand the concept of Wind St. I should never have tried to explain.” Now, Wind St. is basically a street full of clubs in bars that livens up at night and is crowded with drunk students and young adults, partying the night away.  Sorry to post about you on social media, mom and dad, but I only did it because I can’t explain Wind St. without it sounding like a really stupid and somewhat dangerous street, in which it’s (mostly) not. I didn’t really do it justice and so I thought it would be humorous to post about.

And so I did, and this is what happened:


Here’s my problem with it. It’s all fun and games until you actually offend someone. I get this shit all of the time and I’ve realised that this is probably the first idea that people have of me: fat, racist, and gun obsessed. Sure, America has fat, racist, and gun obsessed people, but when does a stereotype become an actual belief? You cannot generalise an entire nation based on one or a few stereotypes. This is an extension of my “You Guys Bomb Everything” post that I wrote a few weeks ago. It’s more negative comments from strangers just from the mention of America. It’s not necessarily anyones fault, it’s just what people are taught to believe from the news and the media. The thing is, America has the same problem. This correlates with more deeper issues such as assuming every Muslim is a terrorist, every black person is a thug, or that Mexico is dangerous and full of drug dealers, when in truth, it’s not like that. Before I went to Europe, I was told that it’s dirty and full of pedophiles. I could also simply say that all southerners are racist, or even that all Californians are vegan. It’s just not true nor is it fair. I could have thrown back some stereotypes about the UK, like that all they eat are chips and they’re all atheists, but that would just be throwing fire on fire. I’d be doing exactly what they did. So instead I sarcastically responded back. I wasn’t about to start a serious debate over Yik Yak.

I know America has done some shitty things, especially in recent events. Regarding the police brutality comment, it’s important that we talk about it, but I don’t know if that was the most appropriate way to bring it up. We aren’t the best nation. America is problematic. We can be ignorant, some of us are indeed bad at geography, and we can be self-centred. We can work on these issues in America, but they can’t be treated lightly. It’s important to be educated, but maybe we shouldn’t get all of our information from one source or stereotype that could easily be biased. This is another reason why traveling is important. Go out and gain your own perspective and beliefs before you assume anything.

I’m taking all of this personally and maybe I shouldn’t. Whether they meant it jokingly or not, I don’t find it very funny, rather just frustrating. In a way I feel more of an outsider; more like I keep having to explain myself and explain my country with everyone I meet. On a positive note, this gives me an opportunity to gain perspective and write a blog post like this, but it’s overwhelming. Pride and prejudice is an endless struggle in both the UK and the US (do I sense a second novel coming on?).

Letters, Thoughts & Rants

End of First Year

First year is coming to a close. People are packing up their rooms, saying goodbye, and leaving Swansea for the summer. I myself am leaving with an addiction to Starbucks, a newfound appreciation for folk music, and a feeling of nostalgia for the past year.

This has been the fastest yet most life changing year I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine my life before university and I can’t believe I have been away from home for so long. I’ve only been in the United States for a total of three weeks since September 2014. I have changed immensely while being here. I even look different. The Andie in September seems years younger than me right now, but I am still the same age as her, and last time I was home, I was her. (Preach time: age is really just a number. It’s all about experiences.) Before you leave, you wonder how much it will change you. There isn’t really an answer to that besides that it just does. Experiencing this year at uni has made me grow so much, and that combined with traveling has made me gain so much confidence in myself. It’s weird because I honestly can’t believe how brave I was deciding to live abroad. Obviously, I couldn’t fully grasp what I was getting myself into, but I’m glad for that. Right before I left, I was sad and a little scared to leave home. I knew I’d never be this young again and that life wasn’t so serious yet. However, looking at myself now, I am so much happier. I would have never gone out of my shell and tried new things if I didn’t leave home. I needed it. The thought of home now has evolved into something much more meaningful, even though I didn’t think it could ever expand any more.

Despite worries of homesickness, I didn’t get homesick at all this year until about April, which is an impressive amount of time without getting homesick if you ask me. I can understand why homesickness is so overwhelming now. It’s a hard thing to want to go back home when you’re so far away. It’s easy to start to dislike differences in culture and whatnot, but it’s a very bad habit to get into. I did find ways to help it a bit though. I took walks, listened to music, Skyped friends and family, watched Welsh slang YouTube videos, and I watched House Hunters International. Oddly enough, House Hunters International really helped. Most importantly though, I became friends with Leah from Canada. Having a fellow North American with whom you can share your struggles with and also share the excitement of being in another country with is really what helped me the most. Homesickness is an isolating feeling and people can never really understand it unless they leave home and experience it themselves, but it is something that you can get through. Overall though, it was a lot less of a problem than I thought it would be.

To answer everyones question: my favourite part was probably meeting all of the different people from different places with different accents. It’s cool to learn about people and culture and where everyone is from! And by the way, asking what someone’s favourite part was is a very broad question and it’s difficult to answer because you can’t just choose one favourite part out of a big life changing experience. 🙂

At this point it will be hard to revert back to US spelling and slang, but I am going to try to keep my UK side as well. Personally, I think it’s better. Heehee.

Seeing how much I’ve changed in just one year, I can’t imagine what I’ll be like at the end. It’s a bit overwhelming at times, but knowing how many friends I’ve made, how many places I’ve been, and how much I’ve grown as a person, I would never change my decision to come here. Plus now I only have two years left of university 😉

Knowing that in a few days I get to wake up in my own home and see my friends, my family, and my cat has brought many tears to my eyes.

I love you Wales, but I am ready for you, Minnesota! Bring on the humidity, stormy nights, and even the mosquitos!

Me in September

Me in September

Me in June!

Me in June!

Song of the day:

Thoughts & Rants

“You Guys Bomb Everything”

Twice now I have had incidents where someone made a joke about America bombing everything. Both times happen to be when I was playing pool with an almost complete stranger.

The first time with someone who I had known for a few hours. I was playing pool and I missed a shot and moaned about it, and he says to me “calm down miss nuke”. I slightly glare at him and he says “don’t go bombing anything, okay?” while my other friend whispers in my ear “Japan!”.

The second time was again with someone who I had only known for about an hour. I meet some guys at another table and they realise I’m American and compliment my teeth (it happens a lot. Americans actually do have better teeth) and I brag about how I never had braces (as you do). They ask me about America and the girl I’m playing pool with randomly says to me “you guys bomb everything.” As I realise this is the second time this has happened to me in less than a month, I reply, very annoyed, “well you guys invade everything.”

I realise that the comments are sarcastic and joking, however the first one genuinely made it sound like I had something to do with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the second one was just like, really? You’re going to mention this right now? People either believe in the American dream and assume that everyone lives a perfect life, and other people criticise every aspect of the United States and believe everybody has a gun and we all shoot each other constantly. Both of these are equally frustrating. Part of me thinks that they’re still hurt that we left and created the Declaration of Independence.

I just needed a good rant about this. Thanks for staying with me to the end.

Thoughts & Rants

A Quick Wednesday Update

Hello dear reader! It’s been awhile. How are the wife and kids? Don’t have either of those? Then darling reader, how are you? Now let’s move on to more important topics, me. Haha I’m only joking, not more important, the most important.  Anyway, I’m back in America now. Jet lag, reverse culture shock, strep throat; I had the whole package. The second I stepped off of the plane, the first thing I noticed was how loud everyone talks (and with that familiar midwestern accent). Basically everything is bigger. Cars, food, thighs, number of people with the crippling dissatisfaction of suburban lifestyle, you name it. Lately, the thing that I’m trying to work out is my relationship with America. What surprised me is that a lot of people in the UK told me that they want to live in America, go to America, have my accent, etc. This is probably me being ignorant about the great country I live in, but I have never looked at it that way. I thought everyone in the UK wouldn’t want to live in America. Don’t they know that we all want their accents and their tea making skills? But really, I was never a big fan of the US, but now seeing it in a way where people want to live here, I have mixed feelings about it. We have 50 states, you can drive to all of them (with enough gas money and patience) and you’re still in the same country. It’s pretty cool. Is it my view of America that’s biased because I grew up here, or is their view biased because all they really see of the country is California and New York in movies? I thought coming home might help me decide how I feel about the US, but I still don’t know. We have a lot of great things that the UK doesn’t, like 24 hour diners, roads that can fit two cars at once, and big shopping malls, but that doesn’t quite do it for me. I haven’t seen enough of the United Kingdom to know which place I like better, but for this time in my life, I’d rather be over there. I left Minnesota  so that I wouldn’t grow to hate it. I got out so that I can appreciate it more. And now being home again, I do. Now here’s a song that’s depressing, slightly funny, and oddly appropriate for this post all at the same time! Song of the day: Bored in the USA