It just dawned on me as I was walking back through the snow from the 7/11 that I've now been in America for 5 years. I didn't really want to have to endure another Winter, but last year's was so mild that I've decided to take a chance with another one.
I know this has nothing to do with horror movies except that one of my main reasons for swapping countries was the cheapness of horror DVDs compared to the UK at the time, but I just thought I'd share anyway.
During the last 5 years, I've bought 1000s of DVDs, changed jobs half a dozen times, and had a thoroughly disappointing time food-wise. Of course, 99% of my successes and failures have all been because of the recession, but it doesn't change the fact that I miss fish and chips, doner kebabs, and real Indian curries.
Television-wise, I've watched "Eastenders" online, so I haven't missed anything there. With BBC America, I've seen "The Inbetweeners" come and go, gave up on "Doctor Who" once Matt Smith took over from David Tennant, and enjoyed "Mistresses", "Being Human", and not very much else really. I can't stand "Top Gear" or all the constant repeats of "Cash in the Attic", "How Clean Is Your House?", and "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares".
American television has proven itself to be unwatchable with far too many commercial breaks, too much censorship, and any series which I've started to enjoy getting axed. I was really enjoying "The Gates" and "Fringe", but when the former got axed, I gave up on the latter myself. At least I saw the final death throes of "Nip/Tuck" as it happened. Years ago I couldn't comprehend the "I never watch TV" statements on so many MySpace profiles, but now I know why. I haven't watched any TV channel since 2010.
As far as the people who I've met in real life go, I've met a lot of idiots. I won't say that there aren't idiots in England too, but they are a whole new kind of stupid here. Pettiness and preciousness abounds; finicky eaters, ADD, OCD, dyslexia, imaginary ailments, allergies, and just about any other retarded thing someone can claim just to be a pain in the arse. I don't even know where to start with all people with entitlement issues who I've experienced. Suffice it to say that come the zombie apocalypse, they will have quite a shock coming to them. Justice will be served on all the backstabbers too.
I'm not saying that all Americans are bad. I've met one of two good ones. Yes, one or two from hundreds doesn't seem that great, but even the most normal ones can turn out to be complete assholes once you start digging. Only the other day, someone I knew suddenly turned into a gun freak overnight just because he could. On the other hand, I don't know any other Americans who own a gun or would even want to no matter what the constitution allows. It's not as if you can use a gun to defend your property without being charged for attempted or premeditated murder anyway.
The law is king in America. Not everyone wants to sue each other, but it's in the back of their minds that they might just get rich out of it if they are lucky enough to be able to play whatever card is flavour of the month. It's not like the movies though. Most lawsuits end up being a waste of time and money for the "get rich quick" schemers even though the whole process causes a lot of inconvenience for the innocent parties.
Indeed, America really is nothing like the movies. It's like a third-world country in most places. The divide between the very rich and the very poor is increasing every day. If you have a job, no matter how pitiful, you're one of the lucky few nowadays. Your employers will treat you like a slave and can legally fire you without warning if they simply don't like the colour of your socks one day which is a huge culture shock for Brits who get caught up in such foolishness.
Things we take for granted in England such as the human right to free speech are constitutional and conditional in America. You can't just say what you want because someone somewhere will be offended by it and make you out to be the bad guy even if you are telling the truth. You have to be a hypocrite to survive. Lies and liars are everywhere. For an honest person, America is like being in a hellish mental asylum where nobody plays by the rules.
There are some good things in America. Monster energy drinks are great, cigarettes are cheap (especially if you roll your own), and McDonald's is, of course, fantastic. Bread is horrible everywhere, but that doesn't matter if you only eat McNuggets and fries. If you are too poor to afford real food, Ramen Noodles and bananas are ridiculously inexpensive. Oh God, I love Ramen Noodles!
There's no class system in America. No airs and graces to put on. There aren't many educated people either because education means loans which will take you the rest of your life to pay back. The same thing has happened in Britain since the time when we all got free student grants, so there's no big difference now.
Another good thing is that no matter how poor you are, the chances are that you will still have TV, the internet, DVDs, and food (of some kind) in your belly. You could even buy your own house for $20,000 if you want a fixer-upper although it probably wouldn't be anywhere nice. Nobody will look down on you for being poor because everybody is only one paycheck away from welfare. You can cut your coat according to its cloth. Yard sales and pawn shops can provide you with more material possessions for next to nothing than in any other country in the world due to the oversaturated electronics market and wastefulness. If you don't mind last year's technology, you can easily live the American dream.
Bear in mind that you can never get sick in America. That's not because as a Brit you are legally obliged to get injected against every disease known to man before you are allowed a visa, but because America has no National Health Service unless you are on the poverty line. Dentists charge twice as much (or more) than Britain, and even a visit to the doctor will be half an average week's wages if you have to buy some pills as well. There are a lot of people who are financially crippled by medical debts which is an absolute abomination in the 21st century. On the plus side, you'll probably die of the medical profession's Victorian practices before you ever have to pay your bills anyway.
America is at least 100 years behind in its standard of healthcare so, if you are a Brit, it's best to take a flight home if you discover anything major going wrong inside you. If the thought of choosing which leg your can afford to have amputated or how many fingers you can afford to have sewn back on in case you get involved in an accident terrifies you, America can provide that nightmare.
I'm sure you'll get the impression that I hate America if I continue so I'll stop this ramble here. Truly, I wouldn't wish some aspects of this country on my worst enemy (actually, yes, I would and far more besides), but DVDs are cheap, some of the girls are better groomed, and there are lots of cats.
I haven't been a success in America. I've stayed here a lot longer than I intended to and frittered away the last 5 years on nothing worthwhile. Yeah, I fixed several computers, fed some people, and saved a few cats from death row, but nothing more. I probably entertained some people with my blog in this imaginary world of the internet, but even that's debatable.