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April 14, 2014

What I Dislike About America

Not everything about America is ‘coming up roses,’ nor is the ‘grass always greener on the other side of the fence.’ Being born and raised in the USA, there are many things I love about my country, but there are also some shortcomings.

Here are three things I dislike about America (want to be changed):

Monolingual Nation 
Maybe it’s a cliché, but most Americans are spoiled because English is a global language. Though Americans may learn French, German, Spanish or other foreign languages in school, it’s not always with the thought they are to be used in day-to-day conversation. Since most of America is more or less a monolingual nation, many Americans do not see the value in the practical use of second, third or fourth language fluency. I think this reduces the range of expressions Americans can experience; though on the other hand by having English as our main language and it being so widely spoken; we can interact easier with people from other countries that know English.

ublic Transportation Improvements  
Because most Americans own a car and prefer to be independent, the public transportation systems across America are not that useful; especially in remote areas. For those who live in areas poorly connected by public transport who don’t have a car; transportation becomes a big problem. Though there are Greyhound busses and Amtrak trains for long distance rides, they have limited connectivity. Depending on the rider’s final destination, there may not be public transport from the bus or train’s drop off point to the final destination. Keep this in mind while taking ground transportation.

Rise of Mega-Grocery Stores
Suburbs across America have these huge, sprawling grocery stores that sometimes carry everything under the sun. It’s quite an experience to go through these stores, even for localites used to shopping at these stores. However, the rise of these chain mega-grocery stores has led to the decline of the inner city small grocery stores and mini-marts. Those that continue to exist are forced to sell items at higher prices than these mega stores and are also known for carrying more ready-to-eat, processed and frozen foods. While dairy, frozen and breads are often found at these inner city marts, perishables like vegetables and fruits are a rare find. Unless farmer’s markets are available in cities, people with limited transportation living in inner cities with access to such mini-marts are in deteriorating health. With the high prices found in inner city marts, the residents resign to eating ‘fresh’ fast-food at places like McDonalds which feeds more per dollar than the mini mart, and more than the bus or taxi fare to the mega-groceries and the pain of carrying home all the groceries on the bus.

In your trips or stay in America, keep these shortcomings in mind when planning your travel or your accommodation. These may become hurdles you will have to find solutions to.

It are the shortcomings that make us want to explore other countries and cultures to uncover what we can’t find in our own country. No one likes to criticize their own country. But, without criticisms, we cannot see the reality of what is happening. Through problems arise opportunities for change. Will America identify these problems and create solutions to help those facing these problems? Only time will tell.

Jennifer Kumar, an American by birth based in Kochi, India offers balanced perspectives on working between cultures to help Indians work with confidence with their US counterparts. View all the topics in cross-cultural training programs here or contact her by clicking here.

Related Posts:  
What I like about the US  
Different Small Talk Expressions Across the US   
What time to Americans eat dinner (and other meals)? 

This article is the intellectual property of Authentic Journeys Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. Copyright ©2011, Updated 2014, Jennifer Kumar. All Rights Reserved. Do not reprint without permission. 

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We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.