I’ve been here for six months now, over half way through my year abroad, so I feel like I’m fairly qualified to give my own version of three things I wish I’d known before starting my year in America.
1. How much fruit costs over here. When I first picked up a bag of satsumas and saw the $6 price tag, I genuinely thought it had been placed on the wrong item. Unfortunately not. I am now living off bananas and apples, the two cheapest fruits. This has also made me come to hate Brexit more than I thought I would because of the deterioration of the pound – how much money I would have if we’d remained in the EU!
2. TAXES!!! I had vague knowledge about American taxes, and knew that they would be added on at the end, but nothing prepared me for the confusion of coming out of the Dollar Store in the first week and looking at my receipt to find that my total was 11.57. Likewise, whenever I buy a Wendy’s 4-for-4 (chips, burger, chicken nuggets and a drink for $4 – amazing, I know), and get four dollar notes ready and waiting only to be reminded that it’s actually four-dollars-thirty-something. Also, endless irritation when booking hotel rooms – only $45 for two nights? Sounds great! Although that’s actually over $50 with tax and everything ….
3. Everyone said it before I came, but everyone’s so helpful and interested as soon as they hear our accents and that we were new in town. When he found out it was our very first day, our uber driver cancelled our payment half way through the trip to Walmart and gave us a tour of Albuquerque on the way there. Teachers have also been very accommodating in terms of letting me on to full classes when they learn that I’m an exchange student!
On a side note – a word of warning if you will – the switch next to the kitchen sink makes a horribly loud noise and destroys everything that is in the sink. Whilst this is incredibly useful and a life saver for someone who hates pulling damp food out of the drain, it’s utterly terrifying to come across when you’re just trying to find out how to turn off the oven light in the middle of the night. Just to let you know, from experience.