That was me two months ago.
I couldn’t stop raving about Brazil. I told everyone how it’s much safer than US media makes it out to be. I told everyone how fresh the food is, a testimony to me being in best shape of my life despite feasting on tons of it. I told everyone how friendlier and happier the people are. I told everyone how I can totally see myself living there in a few years. I told, and told, and told into the oblivion. I sounded like I worked for the Brazilian Tourist Agency.
America’s lifestyle didn’t make sense. I couldn’t understand why people drive large cars, and have huge TVs in their apartments. They should be spending more time outside, with their friends, perhaps at the beach or something, I thought. I found the US pop music empty–empty of any meaning, substance, culture, as opposed to Samba which is full of history. I went out few times, but couldn’t connect with anyone; had absolutely nothing to talk about. I saw people walking around like clones: guys sporting the same hipsterish glasses, shirts and skinny jeans. Girls wearing the same flats as everyone else. I couldn’t wait to get back on the plane.
Fast forward two months, and I’m pretty much re-adjusted to my life in US. Although I plan to be on the road soon enough, I can’t help but to appreciate the life here as opposed to overseas. Sure, America is not perfect, but you could do a lot worse, believe me.
Here’s why I think America shines:
- American Dream:
In America, you can become anyone you want to be if you’re good at it, and regardless of your connections. Look at the success of immigrant founded/co-founded companies like Google, and Intel and more. While it also matters who you know than what you know, it’s definitely less so here than abroad.
- Everything is for sale:
I could walk around anywhere, and buy anything I like. Any building, any business; everything has a price. Everything has its accompanying records. Try doing that in the third world or even Europe, and you’ll quickly find out that some records are missing, or something is deemed unsellable, etc. Likewise I can get a loan from the bank with reasonable interest rate due to the fact that the bank knows my chance of default due to my FICO score. Not many places around the world are that sophisticated. In fact, you need cash to buy big things abroad.
I can go on the Internet and form any kind of company in one or two days. Then I can enjoy benefits, such as expensing my expenses to reduce my taxable incoming. In the third world, this can take a very long time to do while you navigate the bureaucracy. I also have more access to VC funding and talent than anywhere else.
I have real, tangible security here. I can walk streets knowing that if something happens to me there’s a good chance that person will be caught and persecuted. I can open a store without so much fear of someone walking in and asking ‘protection’ money as is commonly done in the third world.
You wanna buy a MacBook in Brazil? Sure, but it’ll cost you 2-3x the price of it in US (in dollars). Same thing with a new LCD TV, or anything else that wasn’t manufactured in Brazil. Say goodbye to your favorite gadgets or ask someone who’s coming from US to carry them down for you.
- Huge, all-catch stores:
I can go to a large store like Costco and do all my shopping there, including food, clothes (if I’m on a budget) and electronics. Everything is competitively priced too.
Sure, there’s corruption all over the world (and always will be), but at least there’s more accountability and transparency here than many other places in the world. America has free press and they love to uncover corruption no matter who small or large to boost their ratings.
- Technology Advancements:
Many things started in America. The light bulb, personal computer, Microsoft, the Internet, Google, Facebook Twitter, including ongoing investments in Biotech and solar energy. Some say America is losing her edge, but try to explain that in Silicon Valley which is continuing to hire and innovate.
- And many more, as you see where I’m going with this.
Travelling is great and eye-opening. It’s important to get out and see how the rest of the world lives in comparison to us. In addition to giving you another perspective, it also makes you aware of some things that perhaps were taken for granted. As the popular saying goes, “you never know what you have until you lose it.”
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