Cross Culture question : The monotony of the American suburbs - My hometown

in #corssculturelast month

I am a little bit anxious to share the exact location of my hometown...there are certain factors which make you more anonymous by nature, for example, in Japan, many names resemble each other, or in a big city, the population is big enough to obscure yourself. When you are from a small and diverse place, you are easily identifiable, and with such a unique life it would be even easier to identify me, and so I'll just say my hometown is a quiet suburb of a major city in America.

For many people in many countries, our lifestyle is something to be envious of. From my perspective, the only thing worth talking about is the size of the property and the overall feeling of safety (but believe me, no matter how safe things are, people who want to worry will worry, so I don't really mind a place with a less than perfect crime rate, as long as there isn't much violent crime). The suburbs in America are very lonely. You can go a week without seeing anyone other than the clerk at the supermarket when you drive to the supermarket once a week. I can't imagine working from home there, I'd go crazy. And the commute can be epically long and uncomfortable. I know it's similar in many places but for me being nearby to friends and work and things to do or nature is important.

I think the biggest problem I had with my hometown was that despite not having much to do, there wasn't much PURE nature either. It was mostly houses. We had trees and grass, but it wasn't organic, or it was just tiny patches of woods between housing areas. I just always feel a bit turned off by the idea of a "bed town" unless it can keep the better aspects of both the country and the city, movement and also tranquility. Otherwise I'd rather choose one extreme or the other. Love deep country, love bustling city.

My hometown wasn't a bad place by any means...I suppose it just wasn't for me, at least not at the time, and not now either. We will see how I feel in the future.

I've spent most of my adult life in Asia and I see how unbelievable fast things change. My hometown was DEVELOPED by American standards, but American development and suburban development STOPS at a point. It doesn't keep going like in Asia. Once you have nice houses and nice roads and a few fancy restaurants, it generally stops changing quickly, especially if it's far from the city. It costs a lot of money to develop things in America. That's probably because of the general strength of the currency (we will see what happens with THAT)....It's amazing how little my hometown has changed.

There have been renovations to the high school, town center and library to make them more beautiful. That's just fine. There wasn't much lost in the reconstruction. My town always had a very small center compared to some nearby towns with trains running through them, and so I was never very fond of the neighborhood, other than a few charming old shops.

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(My neighborhood was much less uniform than this, not THIS cookie-cutter but same atmosphere overall, some smaller houses mixed with some big houses like these, sorry I have no pictures, I've been gone for so long)

The only things I miss are the old local convenience store which is now much less charming and more commercial looking, and the old movie 2 room theater which was torn down with the construction of a new mega-theater on the highway when I was young. I suppose many of the department stores down that highway popped up while I was young and didn't exist before, but I hardly remember before them, most of our life was built around chain supermarkets, Target, Wallmart, and for food, we were lucky with a variety of local shops, simply because it was a "nice neighborhood".

I'm not sure how it's changed because I haven't been back in 5 years, but from what I hear, the biggest change is the closing of the shopping mall. That was the only place for kids to hang out when I was young other than 7-11. After the huge movie theater opened up most kids would hang out there, after and before movies, or sometimes without watching a movie. A starbucks opened up when I was in high school. In other towns Starbucks destroyed the local cafes, but we didn't have a local cafe so it wasn't a problem.

I wonder if my town became any less judgmental? I know that I am more capable of navigating "normal society" where people want to prove their worth through their cars and their fancy houses. I am sure my confidence, my stories, my ability to relate to people would go a long way there now despite the fact that in their eyes, someone of my economic capacity is poor (even factoring in my bitcoin) and not worthy of their attention.....I don't know if it changed much, but perhaps I'd feel differently about it now and find myself with much more respect than I ever imagined just because I'm better at influencing my environment now.

The biggest change the town had from my parents time to when I was young was the diversity. This is my favorite aspect of my hometown. I grew up with lots of Koreans and Polish and Italians and Jews and Russians and Indians and Chinese. Actually Ango Saxxons were hardly a majority...there was no majority. Sadly not many black or native classmates, but a few.

The thing that bothered me was the way people seemed to still gravitate towards their own race. It wasn't a rule, and there was some mixing but usually each group would have a "token Asian" or "token black" friend. I hung out with the punks and hippies and looking back, it may have been because it was the most diverse and therefore seemed like the most accepting and friendly. My best friends were a mix of Indians and Russian Jews, one half Korean, one Taiwanese, and one or two ango-saxxon "Americans".

In my last year of high school there was one black girl in my class and she was into punk. We ended up pretty close and I have to thank her for crushing all my stereotypes and allowing me to become better at treating people as individuals. There was no overt racism towards her that was observable from the outside, but there were definitely ridiculous stereotypes. "Why don't you like rap?" for example, or assumptions that her family was poor.

That's how race was when I was a kid. It was never a hostile thing but it was always a little awkward, not for me, but for many of the people outside of our open-minded group of misfits. I'm sad to see that it is probably more awkward now than it's ever been, although I think our town does have even more diversity and there are probably a few more open-minded people who can treat people as individuals.

As you can see, I have complicated feelings about my hometown. Most of the people I could relate to there were emotionally unstable, partially because they had no power and could not find a means of forming a sustainable community where they could spread things like compassion and creativity. I found those people in the city, and to a much greater degree among ex-backpackers who had settled down overseas once I left the states.

I feel like everyone needs to leave their hometown once, if not forever. It's the best way to gain perspective of the world. At the same time, I always wish that I wanted to return home one day, but there is nothing there for me other than my parents and thankfully they finally understand that I am much happier elsewhere and they may even be willing to join me after they retire.

I know I talked more about the general feeling of my hometown than how it's changed but that's because it's hardly changed at all other than a little renovation and the political climate of America changing.

If you are from a very different place and have never travelled abroad, feel free to ask me questions. I try to give both the positives and the negatives as honestly as I can :-D


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Interesting post. I also think those sterile safe neighborhoods seem to breed fear of the unknown. The lack of change, the lack of diversity, it all makes people weary of anything new or seemingly foreign.

I think it is changing however in the US. In 1990 only 5% of the US population had passports compared to 42% now. While this is still about half the level of European countries, it does represent a big leap and hopefully a generational change as to how Americans see the rest of the world.

The US has had some major emperor has no clothes moments this past year with regard to the myth of American exceptionalism; that must have an effect on how they see the world. Although the fallout of all that is yet to be seen.

I travel a lot (as one could probably tell from my profile); and for me the more I have traveled the more I have realized that quality of life has very little to do with material possessions and more to do with experiences and relationships. Suburbia in my mind is designed to minimise new experiences and new relationships.

Yeah, I'm sure it has changed in some subtle ways. My hometown was very international but most of them came from countries where things were hard and they came over either to protect their wealth or to escape oppression or poverty so they all want to fit in and be as American as possible. They all tell us how shitty their home country was and so it reinforces the idea that the rest of the world is a shithole which as you know is not true.

I feel like the suburbs could be paradise, they just like diversity, open-mindedness and movement and so for me they usually feel like a place to rot. It could change though! I'll see what I can do

I have this tiny ass little hometown, basically all anyone from here has to do is look at my blog and they would instantly know who I am XD

And it has simultaneously changed a lot and not changed a bit. And I would move back forever if I could but I can't because reasons.

Sounds like you come from the type of suburb some of my friends and I refer to as "residential hell", lots of similar boring houses and not much else XD

Well aesthetically it's not bad! We aren't as cookie cutter as this. All the houses are unique. And there are enough trees around, unlike some of the newer places. But yeah, zoning laws means everyone stays inside or in their backyard most of the time. No one walking around except to walk dogs.

If it were full of friendly weirdos and punks maybe I'd like it!

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This is very interesting and also captivating. I wonder how long it takes for someone to perfect his writing skills the way you did. You were able to express yourself exactly the way you conceived the thought.

It appears that you are not one of those that have very strong attachment to their hometown and I believe that that could be associated to the adventurous nature that you possess.

This adventurous nature also made you to be very open-minded in your approach when interacting with people from different race. It's also good to read that you know quite a lot about Asia so, be ready to answer all my questions whenever I have what it takes to travel to Korea.

Sometimes I feel bad complaining about my hometown. It has everything that most people are looking for, but I think once they achieve it, most of them still feel empty, and that was what I saw growing up. We were doing alright to live in such a town, but in a rich town we were below average income and I saw how no matter how high someone gets, if they don't have peace in their heart, they will always want more. So it's a bit of a bad taste, though to fair, if you changed the peoples attitude and a few minor laws about what you can do in public (it's a little too strict), it COULD be paradise.

And yeah as far as different race goes, I don't usually notice it except when we have different stories and experiences and those are just interesting to me. The only time it gets tricky is when someone wants you to change to be more like them, but I am uncomfortable with that among "my own people". Actually my people are the ones who like to mix and match and experiment and explore.

Thank you for seeing that 😃.

Hahahah... Your itching fingers always makes you to type more than the average Hivers and the same goes for your videos. You just like it lengthy and that's nice. As far as l don't see you fighting with house flies in the background 🤣

Yeah... Alot of people in my part of the world would trekk to your hometown if they are given an opportunity to do so. Personally,Korea is a place that l would have to be and that's why l was very impressed to see that you have also crossed paths with them.

Hehh... I'm also at -000000.000½ in the language but l just want to be there and possible work there.

Well Done ✅
You are doing weell

If you make a post about why you are interested in Korea send me a link ok?

Okay... I will do that

I'm in a tricycle heading to my place of service under the NYSC program. You already know about that so, no need for further explanation

I will make a Korean Post Later 🏃