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10 November 2019

American Life: Drive-thru ATMs, Amtrak and American Boys


It’s been 7 weeks since I landed in Charleston, and let’s face it, I haven’t really written all that much about it.

The truth is, I want to write wild stories about my time in America. The ups the downs, the oh-my-GODs. But in reality, life here is simply, good.

After a summer spent either drunk or hungover, my body needed and deserved a well-earned break. I mean, I’m not saying I turn down a Wednesday wine, but that Wednesday wine doesn’t result in a 4am bedtime currently.

I live about 25 minutes outside of downtown Charleston, in the most beautiful house with a jetty overlooking water. Our nearest neighbours are a solid 5-minute walk down the road, and you can see the milky way at night, because there’s such little light pollution where we are. 

Frankly, it’s idyllic.

With the exception of my cousin’s wife and a very close friend who I met in Italy, I had never really ‘got on’ with American humour, or Americans in general. The few who I had met, seemed rude and abrupt. I know, I know, it’s awful to tarnish everyone with the same brush. But it was just my initial perception of Americans.

The good news is, I’ve now done a complete reversal, and have no doubt I’ll be forgetting that in England, people aren’t always so cheery, the supermarket assistant doesn’t actually want to help you, and coffee refills are absolutely not free.

I have realised that a lot of cliches about life in America are true. Portions are huge, and you do need a car to get basically anywhere, because frankly, nobody deserves to get the Amtrak, which is the train they use to cross states.

I found myself half crying, half laughing, when I went to catch the train back to Charleston from Savannah, and was told I couldn’t go onto the platform. The train would pull up, the passengers would only then be allowed onto the platform, at which point the guard would get off the train, and call out your name. Passengers are then directed to their coach, where another guard ticks off your name and tells you your seat. Seriously.

It’s easier to get to Paris on the Eurostar from London, than go from Georgia to South Carolina.

Other highlights of America include Chipotle, peanut butter M&Ms, and drive-thru ATMs, which continue to baffle me every single time the family/friend driving pulls up to one.

I mean, I understand it. It actually makes sense, you're much safer retrieving your cash from a car than you are on the street.

But it's just so foreign to me.

Being in America for Halloween was another experience, with enormous bags of chocolate costing $15-20, and houses being dressed up better than the owners themselves. I’m fairly convinced it’s only a matter of time before spooky season becomes a public holiday in the US.

However.

The most exciting aspect for me, coming to America, was to fulfill my childhood dream of living an all-American life, complete with an all-American boy.

I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years dreaming of going to an American high school and dating an American footballer because, duh, they always get the girl in the films.

So, naturally, it was only a matter of time before I downloaded a dating app to try and find a man who had a dashing smile and an accent like Travis, from Hannah Montana. My ultimate Disney crush growing up.

My first impression of dating in America, came around when a guy I’d been talking to for a week asked if I wanted to go for drinks.

It was a Sunday afternoon, the prime time on anybody’s dating schedule, let’s be honest. And, with nothing else to do, I gladly accepted the offer.

We arranged a time, but held off on a place, because there was a football match on. So, I went into downtown a couple of hours earlier, so I could explore myself, and waited for him to let me know when he had arrived.

And I waited.

And waited.

 And… waited.

Half an hour after we were supposed to be meeting, I receive a text saying “I’m so sorry, I got really drunk last night.”

And so naturally, I bought myself a big ice cream (because everything here is big), and deleted his number.

Not quite the movie scene I pictured of dating an American man, and the first time I’ve ever been stood up.

It turns out, despite the accents, life isn't actually a film 24/7 in America - who'd have thought? My American dream came crashing straight back down, as with many things in my life.

But after avoiding Trump supporters, anyone who owns a gun and Taco Bell at all costs, I'm feeling very much at home here.

Although, I will never understand the whole 'biscuits and gravy' thing.

Love, Alice x

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