Peace, Love & Giraffes

Chasing dreams and adventure in South Africa

Things You’ll miss about America while abroad

I happened across this Huffington Post article today: 27 things you’ll miss about America while abroad, which definitely had me chuckling a little bit! Some of these things were SO true and had me shaking my head in agreement, and some were a little off and/or didn’t apply. Here are my favorites from the list and a couple of my own additions.

Things you’ll miss about america while abroad

1. Fried stuff. Oh, sweet delicious fried stuff.

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Well, this doesn’t really apply to me! They have KFC and McDonalads here, and there are plenty of other unhealthy foods here to satisfy any fatty cravings…foods like pies, oh meaty chicken and mushroom pies.

2. Ice. Ice, BABY. 

This one doesn’t apply to me either. There is plenty of ice to be found here in South Africa!

4. Good ole American patriotism.

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I do love my country. Do I think we take patriotism a little too far sometimes? Um, probably. Covering yourself in red, white and blue American flag body paint does not make you patriotic.

I am proud of my little brother who is serving our country and have been known to get a little teary eyed listening to a patriotic country song. But some of our flag waving “we’re the best” stuff is a little embarrassing. Could we be a tiny bit more humble?

While I’ve met a few people here who love their country and would stay in South Africa till the day they die, I know many others who would jump at the opportunity to move to America/England/Australia. Can’t say the same for Americans. Many people I know have no interest in living abroad.  America is so great! They see no reason.

7. The TV shows (sorry Downton Abbey)

Never realized how much I would miss these! South African TV is full of re-runs and they are usually a season behind on shows like the voice. As fun as it is to watch a marathon of 3rd Rock From the Sun, I’ve spent a decent amount of money on season passes on ITunes to keep up with a few of my favorite shows (cough, cough, Nashville)

8. Girl Scout cookies! Uh, hello tag-a-longs!

Girl Scout cookies are about as American as Apple Pie. I was a Brownie back in the day and my Mom was the Cookie Mom… bless her heart.I look forward to these cookies every year and definitely requested Thin Mints in my last care package from Mom!

9. Drive-thrus… ATMs, liquor stores, Vegas-style wedding chapels, the works.

Seriously. You mean I have to go inside to get my coffee and donut?

11. Efficient and friendly customer service. They actually want to help you.

I’ve had to completely lower my expectations when it comes to service in this country. Especially when it comes to restaurants, service is very lackluster. Is it too much for you to smile when you take my order? Did you have to roll your eyes when I request water refill? (They will NEVER do this voluntarily). Don’t bother asking which menu item is the best, because they won’t know.

Of course there are exceptions. Donatellos at Montecasino is one of our favorites. They actually care about their food and service. If the waiter comes back after your food is delivered and asks how it is, this is a near miracle and we usually tip a little better. Usually I just expect the worst.

13. WTF is a kilometer?


Yeah, going to the gym or trying to cook something can be very…interesting.

Have I run a mile yet? How heavy are these weights? What is 350 Fahrenheit in Celsius, and how many mls are in a cup? I’ve gotten better at it… I can tell you off-hand that there are 250 ml in a cup and 15 ml in one tablespoon. 350 F is roughly 175 degrees!

16. AC/heat everywhere ALL THE TIME.

In Florida you NEED central AC. It is just not an option. I will admit that the day we moved into our apartment I ran around searching for a thermostat, only to have a mini panic attack when I realized that there wasn’t one. Luckily South Africa is blessed with a great climate – not too hot, humid, or cold. We’ve been fine leaving windows open and using a fan at night. It is starting to get a little chilly lately so we’ll see how it goes!

18. Coffee to-go. Not as ubiquitous as over there.

I can relate. Coffee to-go is hard to find, but South Africa does have a thing for instant coffee, which is surprisingly good.

21. Heinz (aka sugary) ketchup. It’s an artform, really.

Heinz is pretty good, but ALL GOLD, is the gold standard here and I think just as great tasting!


23. Automatic cars. Stick shifts are the suck.

People tend to be a little bit astonished when I tell them I don’t know how to drive a manual or parallel park. Hey, I grew up in Florida and that just wasn’t part of the driving test! I could have learned while here, but seeing as they drive on the left side of the road and Jono already got in an accident, I think I’ll pass.

24. Solo cups. These aren’t even that cool.

I discovered the shortage of Solo cups in this country one day while party planning. How can you play beer pong/flip cup without Solo cups?! It’s kind of a tragedy.

25. Free refills. Free refills FTW. 

Yep, no never-ending soda fountains here! But it doesn’t really bother me.

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27. Diet Coke.

It’s called Coke Light here. And no, I don’t miss it. For the occasional soda craving I am fine with Coke Zero.

A few of my own:

Late Night Store Hours: People close up shop early here. 24-hour anything is pretty much impossible to find. Even the grocery stores close early. Don’t even get me started on holiday hours! The whole country is practically closed in December. While this is tricky for the people trying to get stuff done, but then again this must be great for employees because who really wants to be working at midnight?

Super Target: Please tell me where you can get your coffee, groceries, prescription, cowboy boots, a bikini, mascara, cat litter, curtains and a bookshelf, ALL IN ONE STORE? That is the beauty of Super Target, and yes I do miss my weekly trips there.

Mexican Food: Okay, so South Africa has some delicious food, but can a girl get a burrito up in here? I really miss the Mexican influence that exists in the states, and Florida in particular.  There are days when I would kill for a Chipotle burrito bowl, guac and chips!

Country Music & Concerts: Sometimes you just feel like relaxing to some good old country music. Impossible here. The only radio stations SA has are top 40, house, and some Afrikaans stations.

You can find the full article here:

Now that I’m transitioning to moving back to America, I’ll have to start putting together a post on “What I will miss about South Africa” – there is a lot!




By | April 24th, 2014 | SHOW COMMENTS (7)

7 Responses

  1. Sajid says

    No way, i just returned back from SA, there is absolutely nothing i miss about US including weather, people, or food. Who needs super processed food, right? It is week 1 now, and even eggs have no taste. It is taking me so long to wear off three weeks in the kalahari.

  2. Norm says

    We laughed at the menu when we went to a Spur Steak House and saw nachos with cottage cheese listed as an ingredient! Of course, we also were very leery of Monkey Gland Sauce until we found what it really is!

    That aside, we Love our frequent visits to South Africa, and to Kruger! Going back later this year – can’t wait!

    • Sajid says

      Glad you understood Monkey Gland sauce – no monkeys are actually hurt in the process 🙂

  3. Emily Ivy says

    Ok, when you get back to the states, we have a date for some Chipotle or Tijuana flats crunch delicious taco’s!! 🙂

    • Nicole_Ehrlich says


  4. Nicole @ Treasure Tromp says

    I think that I missed Mexican food the most while in South Africa. The food in SA is good but I could not find any good mexican food!

    • Nicole_Ehrlich says

      Yes! Muchachos doesn’t even come close!