independence day.

I first visited another country during my freshman year of college, when I spent a weekend with a friend at her university in Toronto.  I wasn’t particularly affected by the trip – I only needed a birth certificate to cross the border, and the only things that felt out of the ordinary were the different currency, subtitled French language, and use of Celsius.  I don’t think I was quite ready to understand the beauty of a country that wasn’t my own.

Just under two years later, I boarded a plane for London, where I spent the first of two semesters studying abroad.  I went into the experience knowing it would change me; I had no idea how profound that change would be.  I could wax on for days about the effects of my two years of travel.  Currently, one in particular seems appropriate:



If you’ve ever left your home country, you may have experienced an interesting phenomenon known as reverse culture shock.  Each time I went abroad, I was so open to the traditions of the country in which I was a guest that adjustment was neither difficult nor complex.  But returning home – that I was unprepared for.

The grocery stores were the biggest shock.  I remember an employee coming to ask if I needed help after I had spent five minutes staring at the full wall of yogurts, unable to find a simple container of plain.  I was hard-pressed to find a single bottle of salad dressing in Prague, but here there was an entire aisle devoted to them.  


And the produce!  It was all perfect.  I remember standing in awe that not a single apple was specked with dirt, that every tray was abundantly full or in the process of being replenished.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the signs informing shoppers that produce was monitored every thirty minutes.  I had grown up with all these things, and yet, I had forgotten them.


July 4th is a celebration of the United States, a country of which I am proud to call myself a citizen.  I am thankful for the opportunities that citizenship has granted me.  And yet, many of us, myself included, complain about the flaws of this society.  Living without the American standards of cleanliness, order, and availability for so long, I am well aware of the excess we enjoy, and I know it is unfair.

Today, however, I think it is simply important to say thank you.  No, I don’t need a wall of seventy-five brands of yogurt.  I don’t need perfectly arranged fruits and vegetables.  Maybe we’ve gone too far – but look at how far we have come.  From thirteen colonies to fifty states, we should beam at the progress we’ve made.

What makes you proud of your nationality?



Filed under Uncategorized

4 responses to “independence day.

  1. i love that here in America we have so much freedom to speak our minds. I feel like I have all of these options open to me too.

  2. I studied abroad for a mini-term 6 weeks and went all around Europe. Each country was so different and their choice of foods were also very varied.

    I am proud to be an American of our government system. Yes, it is not perfect but we are able to re-elect a new leader every 4 years without violence. And that is remarkable.

  3. I am proud of our nations hospitality. I feel we are warm to people and with open arms.

  4. I have traveled a far amount for only being 28. I lived in Honduras helping to rebuild after Hurricane Mitch. I studied abroad in France. I backpacked Europe for 3 months in between undergrad and grad school. This year I went to Japan alone just because. I want to see the entire world.

    And yet I am very proud to be an American. I have noticed it has become much more difficult being an American abroad after our invasion of Iraq. I don’t support the way which does put a little gray cloud over my American pride. But for more reasons than not, I am proud of the opportunities that I have been given living in America. We have free speech, we can participate in our politics, I have been able to advance my education as far as I wanted to, I can work most jobs without really worrying that being a female will negatively affect me.

    My mother’s side of the family has been here since the 1600’s and my dad’s side is split. One side is native American (Crow Indian) and the other side is Austrian—came over after WWI. Unlike many people, I cannot imagine not being American. All of my grandparents and all but 1 great grandparent was born in the US.

    wow, that was a book. 🙂

    Happiness Awaits

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s