12 Things I Dislike About Being An Expat In The USA

Many people think that the USA is the best country in the world including all Americans. Of course there are great things about this country, but it definitely has its flaws, at least in my eyes. 

I moved to the US for the first time on September 2009 and have lived here since, except for a couple months in Mexico and a few more months in India in between the years.

I lived in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Oregon. I have also visited Washington, California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Michigan.

Oh, and I married an American (been married for almost 4 years now.)

So I think I have a pretty good grasp about this country.

12 Things I Dislike About Being An Expat In The USA

1. The Work identity.

The first thing you will be asked when meeting a new person is “what do you do?”. It’s always an uncomfortable question for me. People here live to work instead of the other way around. I think they need to take a step back and relax and enjoy life outside of “success” and money a little more.

2. Everything seems to be a competition.

Americans are always striving to be the best or better than others. People play to win instead of to enjoy the journey of the game.

3. Fahrenheit, yards, miles…

Why do you have to be the only ones not using the metric system? Well, almost the only ones.

4. Tall and Old[er].

This one is personal: I feel very short and very young (not in a good way) in this country! Women my age look way older than I look, and I get carded ALL the time. It doesn’t help that I’m short either. I would wear heels more often, but no one wears heels and I feel overdressed when I do.

5. Lack of fresh food.

Packaged foods isles in a grocery store in the US. source

It very hard to eat fresh, like have a meal without any processed foods. All the food here seems to somehow be chemicalized (made-up word.) In Mexico and many parts of Europe, food is so fresh and delicious.

6. The lack of real Mexican food. 

tacos al pastor
Tacos al pastor

This one is also personal because I have been spoiled with real authentic Mexican food since I grew up there. Last weekend we drove almost 50 minutes to a whole-in-the-wall Mexican place that an almost stranger recommended to us. Desperate much? It was amazing and worth it.

7. Ice

I don’t like freezing cold beverages and I often forget to ask for water without ice. It’s a minor thing, but still one that I don’t like.

8. Obsession with money.

It’s kind of all they care about. Their goal is to have more money, no matter how much you have. I will add here: Banks. Banks are terrible, there is not a single good bank. They’re all trying to get as many fees from you as they can.

9. Law suits.

Suing is like a hobby here. People sue for everything! I guess this goes back to the obsession with money, if there is an opportunity to get some more money, people will take it.

10. Heritage.

I’m Irish! I’m Italian! I’m 1/4 Australian! Um… you are American. So many Americans say these things and it confuses me because it’s not really true. Okay, you might have some Irish or Italian heritage/ancestry but you are not one. I have never in my life said that I am German because I have a German great-grandfather. I am simply Mexican because that is where I was born.

11. Drinking legal age and ID’s.

Having a beer somewhere in Washington.

I’ve seen 60 years olds get carded at the grocery store. I have been carded because I was with someone who was buying a bottle of wine, and I have been told not to sit at the bar in a restaurant because I wasn’t carrying my ID. It’s ridiculous.

12. Nationalism.

Thinking that they are better than any other nation in the world. This is especially annoying when they’re traveling and they think that anything other cultures do is wrong, not different. I think patriotism and loving the country you are from is great, but nationalism (feeling superior to all other countries) is not.

I will add here, the fact that they call themselves “America” and not the United States. I don’t know who or when that started but America is a continent y’all.

Please note that not all Americans are the same and when I use the words “no one” and “everyone” there are obviously exceptions. This is quite generalized but it is just a personal opinion based on personal experience.

Plus, the US is not all bad, there are great things about it too! Stay tuned for a post about my favorite things about being an expat in the USA.

Have you ever lived in the US? Do you agree with any of these? 

41 thoughts on “12 Things I Dislike About Being An Expat In The USA

  1. Girl, move to San Diego. They have the best tacos al pastor, seriously!
    It’s so funny because I’m originally from Sonora, so we have a huge influence there from the United States (and since it’s very hot too) we put ice even in beer! They don’t do this in Slovenia, it breaks my heart that you do get a chance to get ice with everything haha!

  2. We call ourselves American because it’s it’s a short and easy way of saying that we are from The United States of America. And at the same time, when in a foreign country and asked where we are from, we usually answer that we are from the U.S. And we DO call ourselves American first, and after that, Irish, Italian, Hispanic, etc. Because we are a country of immigrants from so Many different countries, we take great joy in showing off our ancestry, please don’t take that away from us. Maybe in a hundred years people may say I’m American and leave off their heritage, but not yet. I do feel the need to add that many immigrants from south of the border so not call themselves American first. They refer to themselves as Hispanic. I agree with most of your other points except for #12. This view may be held by our population that has not traveled, but I think that maybe 20 percent of the population is making the other 80 percent look bad. I became an American when I was 4.

    1. I’m not taking away anything from anyone. I appreciate your opinion. I actually have many American relatives. My dad was even born here, but I do consider myself Hispanic because that is where I grew up and how I identify myself with best. We also have a long history and varied ancestry included Spanish, French and even Aztec and Mayan. But some people that have not traveled, like you said, like talking about their ancestry just to sound interesting. I am sorry if I offended you in any way.

  3. While I agree with many of your points, you may find that us arrogant, nationalistic, sue-happy, ID-requiring Americans withdraw the welcome mat a bit from people who complain about us and generalize about how “all” Americans are.

      1. I’m not offended, just offering a word of caution: Sharing criticism of the country you are choosing to live in would probably not be well received anywhere except the polite atmosphere of Word Press. People are incredible rude and nasty to each other over simple things like whether or not they like a song. I cringe to think of the responses your post would get in some circles.

        1. I wrote about the good AND the bad things. It wasn’t one sided, there is a balance. And there ARE bad things in this country, whether people accept it or not. This is true about every country, I simply chose to write about it. I have bad things to say also about my home country (as well as good).
          Your comments make me think about what others have written about America when they say that people are too sensitive here which creates a lot of falseness and filters and masks just because of the fear of offending someone. In Italy, for example, people say it as it is, “you gained a few pounds”, “that shirt is horrible”, they are blunt and honest and that is their culture. Here if you say something bad about someone or their country, in my case, it is very negatively taken. You should take my “criticism” like a grain of salt.
          And the responses, well that was my risk, which I will deal with myself. By the way, Americans have agreed with many of my points.
          Finally, sometimes where you live is not your choice.

        2. Um, who is being too sensitive now? Believe me, I do take your criticism and all your opinions with a grain of salt. You want blunt and honest? My first thought on reading your post was “if you don’t like it here, go the fuck home.” But being completely false, as we horrible Americans are, (we call it polite) I didn’t say that. I said myself that I agree with many of your points. While you find may many Americans agree with you, you probably won’t find as many who welcome your opinion. But go ahead, share it! Just be prepared for some negative opinions to come your way. Since you’ve posted this sort of thing twice now, maybe that’s the kind of response you’re hoping for. Whatever! And I did read your post about the good things here, I just didn’t feel it worthy of a like or comment.

        3. @Trisha: I knew it, I just knew it that it was only a matter of time before you or someone else like you would spring the “if you don’t like it here, go the f* home” or “go the f* back to where ever you came from”, those two being the favorite expressions of my fellow Americans of a certain stripe. It is easy to spot folks like you from a mile. The odor is unmistakable – that which comes from a blind belief in American exceptionalism, no matter what. It must be blissful to be unencumbered by logic, reality and restraint let alone modesty and a sense of humility once in a while.

          There were items in Mani’s list that made me cringe but only because they are so true.

        4. DH, If you read all the comments, you would see that “go the f* home” was not my response to Mani. It was only after her snippy reply praising the blunt honesty of Italians and criticizing the “false” politeness of Americans that I said that to show her what blunt honesty could look like. In truth, I didn’t even think that until I read her last comment and that was a response coming from anger toward her, not a response toward any and all people from other countries.

          As for me and my belief in American exceptionalism, you are way off. I agree that America as a whole is way too arrogant for their own good (or anyone else’s). If someone had written a deeper, more thoughtful post on America’s faults, I would have to agree with them. My problem isn’t with anyone criticizing the U.S. or Americans, it’s just with Mani’s shallow opinions and gross generalizations. To say that “all” Americans are the way she sees them is completely false and making her little disclaimer at the bottom doesn’t really negate the judgments she’s making. For instance, I know there are people out there are who are sue-happy, base their opinions of others on their career and think money is the most important thing, but I don’t actually know people like that and I can’t imagine she’s meeting a lot of people like that in Oregon either.

          I don’t have a problem with people criticizing the U.S. or Americans. I can understand it! I just don’t feel Mani is mature enough or been here long enough to really understand what the problems are. I mean, really, if getting carded when you look like you’re 15 is one of your top problems, you’ve got it pretty good.

        5. You did say that your first thought on reading the post was “if you don’t like it here, go the fuck home.” You just decided to tell me after your second comment. It was your response; you can’t even admit that.
          I do NOT believe ALL Americans are the way I described. My post wasn’t meant to be too serious. And how long is long enough? I think 5 years is a pretty good time to learn about a country. Plus the many times I visited before that. And Oregon is not the only place I have lived in. You are making a lot of assumptions. I have met people like I described, and may of them.
          I have American relatives Trisha. And I love them. I also really like it here. My post wasn’t a hateful one, it was a simple series of posts that described the good and bad things of the country in my perspective.
          I find it weird that you didn’t even accept my good things, you were so upset that you wouldn’t see my appreciativeness. Like DH said, some of my points made her cringe because she can admit that they are true, maybe you should be more honest with yourself.
          By the way, you mentioned about other’s responses, well yours was pretty much the only angry one I got and most of my readers are from the US.
          And just so you know, I am not going the fuck home. Actually I might go visit, but I will be remaining as a resident here until God changes my plans.

        6. Maybe I was supposed to take your post as fun and light-hearted but I didn’t. I took it as rude and judgmental. That happens sometimes when you put this kind of stuff out there. If feeling annoyed by your post and irritated by your comments makes me a jerk, then I’m a jerk. There’s really nothing else I can say because I’m American and I didn’t appreciate your posts, therefore, I am a jerk (nationalist, etc.etc.). Maybe I should have just said I found your post in poor taste and that I personally would never go live in/visit a country and make such a public statement about my dislikes of the people in that country but I doubt that would have gone over any more smoothly. Probably I should have just unfollowed your blog and not said anything, so that’s what I’m going to do now: unfollow your blog. I have better things than go back and forth with you. Like I said, I didn’t appreciate your post and if that makes me a jerk, I’m a jerk. Everyone is at some point.

          Since I’m unfollowing this blog, anyone else who would like to tell me off will have to visit my blog to do so.

  4. Oh my, I have never lived in the US, but have been there several times. Some of your reasons are reasons for me not want to live there, others are similar to Canada (I lived there for 1 year)… especially the one about being 1/4 Australian and so on ahahah I dont know why they say that… well in this case in Brazil we are half Portuguese, 1/3 Spanish and so on… funny! I perfectly understand your reasons hahhaha loved the post, great idea to share it with us!

  5. As an expat myself, I can say these things are mild complaints compared to my experience as an expat in Switzerland. The first questions asked there to a foreigner are “where are you from?”, “why did you come here?” and “when are you going back?”. So I appreciate American culture much more and focus on the good parts.

  6. Hi Mani,
    Interesting to read your perspective—I agree with quite a few of your points, and some of them aren’t limited to the USA! Work Identity: it seems that’s always the first question everywhere and it bothers me too! Competition: one of my biggest peeves everywhere I’ve encountered it (which includes an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean!!). Law suits: fear of law suits makes way too many regulations. (I like to ski off-piste!) Ice: it hurts my teeth.
    If it makes you feel any better, though, it can be hard being an expat anywhere: Switzerland, where I live, recently voted to have quotas on foreigners. But I still love it here 🙂
    Looking forward to what you like about the US.

  7. Hi Mani, I’m sorry to see that you’ve been driven to the point of ranting. I’m sure you can see the glass half full on most days 😉 That said, as a Canadian-born woman (now in Bali), I’d like to point out that America is NOT a continent.. but North America is.

    1. Hi Amit, actually I’m totally fine/happy here, I simply came across a similar post and was inspired to write my own perspective. I may have hard days but they are mostly good. As I mentioned at the end, the positive things are coming soon!
      And you are completely right about the continent thing. It was just a silly thing for me to add.
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  8. Hi there… I completely respect your feelings about the USA here is this post… But I wanted to write to say that I’m a native New Yorker who has roots in Italy since all four of my grandparents came from there. I call myself Italian -American because even though I was born in the US and don’t have an Italian passport, my last name is Italian and my blood and DNA is from that country and I speak the Italian language so I feel proud and would like to keep this part of my family and culture alive…. Though I’m American too since being born and raised in New York…
    But I respect your views of the U.S. too that you mentioned here…
    Look forward to reading more of your blog.

    1. Hi Lia, I completely get that too. I know there ARE Americans with a strong Italian or Irish or anything else heritage. But I was mostly talking about those who are like 1/8 Irish and say they’re Irish, you know? 🙂 By the way, Italy is like my favorite country. You should be proud! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  9. Mani it sounds like you are missing home very much. I tend to be careful about broad brushing entire countries. Perhaps I am biased with family from the US. 🙂

  10. I can agree with most of your points and I was born in the US. The only one I think may be a little off (although its totally your opinion so it doesn’t really matter) is 10. People came to the US from all over the world and there isn’t a set language or national bloodline. Saying “I’m American” doesn’t really mean anything expect maybe you were born here. I don’t consider myself Irish or German or British, but that’s where my blood line comes from. But I do understand what you’re saying. I know a lot of people especially during Saint Patty’s Day who scream “I’M IRISH BECAUSE MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDPA WAS!!!!” People can be funny sometimes lol 🙂

  11. Very funny. And how true. (All points) And the map is sooo true! But then one can walk most streets (even at night) without a fear of getting mugged. You’re in trouble, you can go to the police. 🙂
    I’ll wait for the ten positive points.
    Gracias por compartir.

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