Ancient cultures, untamed wilderness, foreign dialects, exotic foods – there’s a lot about world travel that will pique your interest. But when it comes to living in an exotic locale – or anywhere beyond America’s borders – there are going to be some growing pains (or two years of growing pains, if you’re an LDS missionary). Whether you’re a potential missionary or just really love a missionary, you might be curious about what makes Americans the most homesick (ketchup, anyone?).
Ice cold… anything
Word to the wise, Europe-bound missionaries: be prepared to be offered some lukewarm (at best) beverages. If you’re headed across the pond, you can likely kiss those sweating Styrofoam cups goodbye. In Europe, you’ll be lucky to find even a couple cubes swimming in your room-temp root beer. Don’t be surprised, America has long been considered excessive in its use of ice – just check out Epicurious for a quick (and icy) history lesson.
Speaking of cold, if that’s how you like a room, well, forget it (unless you’re serving in Siberia during the winter). Believe it or not, that common appliance we Americans can’t live without is a, well, foreign concept for much of the world over. The United States has long been the world’s leader in air conditioning, according to The Washington Post. The rest of the world? Well, it’s just a little warmer.
The phone ring
You may not realize you’re in a foreign country until you pick up the phone to make a call. The ringing sound at the other end? It’s downright weird (really, just try it and see).
You have a curfew, you keep the Sabbath Day holy and you don’t have a lot of reason to spend too much time shopping or eating out. But when you need some milk or a bottle of aspirin, you’ll find out: business hours around the world are much, much different than in the United States. We Americans need everything right now, and that means we’ve got 24/7 everything – even drive-thrus. In many other parts of the world? Well, if you need a roll of toilet paper after 6 p.m., you’re out of luck.
Tell your mom to keep the Skippy coming. Outside the United States, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a PJ&J – let alone a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Even if you do happen upon a jar of roasted goodness, you’ll quickly find it’s not quite the Jif you remember from home. What makes PB so American? According to Slate, World War II gets the credit; peanut butter became an American staple when meat was short during the war.
If you’ve ever ducked into a public restaurant for a quick pit-stop (or sudden emergency), you were actually enjoying an American luxury. Missionaries who find themselves on the streets for long periods of time may want to carry some (or a lot of) loose change. Outside the United States, restrooms are a for-profit operation. So either pay up or hold it!
Got a missionary with a hankering for something exclusively American? Tell us about it!