Even though I have spent the better part of my life as an expat, I still love the patriotic American holidays and am unable to sing the national anthem without choking up.
Last week a friend and colleague from Southeast Asia and I were walking around one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. We got to talking about how, even though we love the countries that we have worked in (China, Laos, and Myanmar), we also love our home country, the United States. In fact, as a result of living overseas for so many years, there may be things we appreciate about this place that we wouldn’t otherwise.
So on this Fourth of July, here are 8 things that I really appreciate about the United States:
1. The clean air. We have virtually no pollution in the Twin Cities, something that I greatly appreciate after living so long in Beijing.
2. The traffic. When I lived in Beijing I always figured that it would take me at least one hour to get anywhere. In the Twin Cities, everything is 20 minutes away (at least inside the 694/494 loop). I spent the first several months back in town being 40 minutes early to everything, and when my friends or family fuss about the traffic here I laugh at them with derision.
3. Public libraries. Since most of my work is of the free-lance variety, I spend a lot of my time working in the local public library. I love that I can spend the day there working, and can even bring my lunch!
4. Public toilets. Ok, this may sound strange, but I LOVE the fact that I can go anywhere and find a clean public toilet!
5. Public parks. I love the fact that the seemingly thousands of parks are open to the public for free and are well kept. No walls, gates, or ticket sellers.
6. The interstate system. A fantastic way to get around a beautiful country.
7. The National Park system. 22 down, 27 to go!
8. Our political system. Yes, I like our political system. It’s chaotic and messy and inefficient, but it still provides levels of liberty and freedom and opportunity that are unimaginable in most places. I’m definitely with Winston Churchill on this one: “It is said that democracy is the worst form of government except all others that have been tried.”
Happy Independence Day!