Happy 4th of July!

To accompany my Canada Day list of things I really like about Canada, I've created a list of 10, mostly superficial things that I miss about America. These are not in any particular order, and there are probably others that I've forgotten. This list should indicate how similar the countries are, if these are my biggest complaints.

1. Target. Even with a list in random order, this is the first thing that comes to mind. I also think it's sort of funny and materialistic that the thing I most miss about America is a store, but I also find it appropriate.

2. Cheese. Canadian cheese costs so much! We rarely eat it, and when we do, it's a big chunk of our grocery bill. I miss the 10 for $10 specials at Kroger on bricks of cheese.

3. Technology. Western is a pretty big school, but it still doesn't have what I think most Americans would call decent technology. They got some kind of deal on a computer system that most of us hate, and that can't run actual Microsoft Word. The computers at school also don't have Finale on them, which was pretty crippling for me at first (it's a notation program I use to make all my examples for my homework). And without Finale, my even bigger complaint is that we don't have a scanner that students are allowed to use. I've never owned a printer or a scanner because IU always had them and charged us once for a year's worth of printing privileges.
Separately from school, he population is smaller here and I get the sense that the market for things like cell phones and cable companies is just way different. For the entire country (something like 36 million), there are only about 3 cell phone companies that I know of, and a lot of unoccupied land between the cities. So yeah, this is kind of a big convenience that I miss.

4. Highway Speed Limits. We live about 50 miles from the border, and yet it takes a full hour to get there on a road just like the interstate. Canadians assure me that it's ok to go "10-15% over the limit," which is more math than I prefer to do while driving. That said, it conserves gas and it's probably safer.

5. The South. During our trip around the southern states, I was really struck by how beautiful the country is down there, and how much I missed it. I don't miss having to drive 5 hours just to see John for a weekend, but I miss getting to spend time in Tennessee.

A non-serious wedding gift from my mom to Kira.

6. Understanding at least the premise of the political system. I don't claim to be a political scientist, but I felt like I at least knew what was going on a lot of the time in national politics.

For election night, 2008.

Here I have no clue. There are people in Parliament with turbans, because that's how different the political climate is. On the plus side, Canadians I've met seem to think favorably of Obama.

7. Chick Fil'a.

Mark, showing off his then new Rubik's cube at Chick Fil'a, inside College Mall.

I know it's Sunday, so I couldn't go anyways, but I REALLY miss that place. I'm glad we went while in Georgia.

8. Bloomington.

Of course, this has a lot to do with the awesome friends I had while living there.

One of the bears in front of the public library on Kirkwood. He knows what he did.*

I love telling people in London about how wonderful it is to live in Bloomington. If there was some magic way for me to live there again, I'd probably do it.

9. Panera. There are Canadian versions of a lot of things that I liked in America. Winners, for example, is the Canadian TJ Maxx. But there is no Canadian Panera, meaning I have fewer fall back plans for when I don't want to cook dinner (particularly at the end of the semester).

10. American Thanksgiving. It's not that Canadian Thanksgiving is bad somehow. It's just not the same. You get a Monday off from school, which made no difference in my schedule last fall anyways. People don't have the meal on a particular day, unlike the traditional Thursday meal in America. People don't even necessarily eat Turkey. Also, it's in October, and last year it wasn't even that cold. For some reason, I expect snow with Thanksgiving. Having it so early also means that the Holidays don't start the next day. Canadians still observe American "Black Friday," and cross the border to go shopping. That's the day a lot of them start decorating for Christmas. The Canadian way of doing it is fine, I'm sure, if you're from here, but I kind of miss the American-style, way-too-much-food kind that starts the rest of the holiday season.

*Somehow there are a lot of pictures of Mark in this post. Purely coincidental. Mark is maybe one of the my friends that miss the most from America, to be fair.

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