Blog: 10 things I do not miss about America

I experienced an interesting liberation from some aspects of American society that I became accustomed to.

(Source: AP/TASR)

Andrea Sadloňová is a Slovak-born scientist who returned home after 19 years in the USA.

When analyzing my occasional frustration with my life here in Slovakia, I realize that it might stem from my past unrealistic expectations of what this move home was supposed to mean for my life. Having expectations, even false ones, is usually needed to start. Expectations create hope and drive to engage in difficult activities, even when the final result is unexpected. So, most of my expectations were not fulfilled, but I experienced an interesting liberation (I realized this during my last visit in the U.S.) from some aspects of American society that I became accustomed to, and believe me, these aspects are not very popular among many Americans either:

1) Gun violence directed towards regular citizens in everyday life.

2) Violence, gore, and dead people as a source of excitement and entertainment.

3) A strong focus on success, elitism, celebrities, self-promotion, and youth as preferred ways to achieve something, be happy and have a good life.

4) Separated city neighborhoods as a result of poor urban planning, historical segregation, social inequality, suburban development, and wealth distribution. I never liked that I could not freely roam the streets of American towns and had to be careful not walk into a bad neighborhood.

5) Life compartmentalization – home, work, and shops separated from each other by long distances requiring lots of time to get to.

6) For a foreigner especially, the difficulty engaging with one’s community, which is also connected to compartmentalization; one must belong to groups to become engaged.

7) Separation from nature – private property laws redirected our ability to interact freely with nature, which is put into another compartment – parks

8) Forced consumerism through massive marketing campaigns and pressure to spend money

9) The service-oriented economy – you do this and I will do this in return. This is also related to compartmentalization. There is no desire to create something of our own for our own pleasure and benefit but rather a desire to please others and make money. It also feeds into wealth inequality and increased expectations of how one should be constantly positive, excited, pleasing and flexible to support the needs of others. It is probably not healthy to push people to behave this way given depression and addiction epidemics in the USA; scientific evidence supports that the human body compensates for periods of excitement with emotional withdrawal and depression. The service industry also drives the cost of education, medical treatment, legal help, and restaurant meals.

10) Stress on hard work as THE factor for success, when success is a combination of work, luck, connections, and opportunities.

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