America: the land of the free, the land of opportunities, the land of the great or the land of McDonald’s? Foreigners have a different perspective regarding American culture before exploring the country.
My first night in America was hectic. After traveling 24 hours alone, I finally arrived in Asheville. I was waiting on my luggage to come through security when a blonde, blue-eyed girl patted me on my shoulder ready to take me to UNC Asheville. Besides getting pulled over by the police, we made it to school without any major issues.
Checking in at Overlook Hall, I was finally at the place that would be my new home for at least a year. None of my roommates had checked in, but being alone the first night was not terrible. Unfortunately, I did not bring anything for my new home; no toilet paper, soap, bed sheets, blankets or toothpaste. I must have thought I was checking in at a five-star hotel somewhere in New York, and I felt like an inmate sleeping in the tall beds without any bedding.
If I thought my first weekend was hectic, I do not know how I would describe the following week: taking classes in a foreign language, picking up books, buying stuff for my room, meeting new people, eating new food, driving everywhere was very tiring and I started to question myself on whether moving away from home was such a good idea. But I survived, and after that first week, life in America got easier: especially when I realized how to respond to a “how you doing” from a complete stranger.
Before buying a car, the hardest thing was getting around in the states. In Copenhagen, people get around by public transport, either cycling or walking. Not a lot of people own cars because other forms of transportation are much more efficient and available. Outside of downtown Asheville, I learned I would need a car to get around in America.
Speaking of driving, I remember traveling to Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs for a conference tennis match. Less than two hours in the van, we pulled up to the university. All of a sudden I felt very fortunate I lived in Asheville and not Boiling Springs — the main road had nothing but a church and a McDonald’s, and the silence was so loud in my head that, as a city girl, it made my stomach turn and brain scream.
After all, America cannot be defined by one word; the country is so diverse, by ethnicity, political beliefs, geography, size, etc., which makes it hard to unite it and its people as a whole and as “one.”
Moving to America made me realize it is a country made up of much more than uptown Manhattan, Beyoncé and fast food. It is a country with many differences, talents and opportunities, wasted on a system stuck on rules, poverty and white supremacy.
In Denmark, which is smaller than North Carolina, diversity is limited, which makes it easier to unite in a system where paying higher taxes allows free health care, free education and a strong government-controlled society is the norm. I am not saying socialism is the right system for America, but I believe America would benefit if hate and prejudice toward minorities were eliminated, and if differences would be embraced.
In addition through my foreign eyes, it shocks me how the richest one percent gets richer as the middle-class deteriorates every year.
Being able to travel, observe, live, laugh and love in America has given me a unique insight to a diverse country with beautiful nature, different people, cultures, languages, ideas, opinions and places. I believe it is not living up to its full potential, and is held down by politicians controlled by a weak, corrupt government. I am very proud to live in Asheville, a city surrounded by beautiful mountains, different people with, generally, strong morals, diversity, education, high tolerance and acceptance, and it is easy to be happy here.
Enough said, I am not sure what the next four years will bring, but I hope for the best. I will enjoy the differences and take advantage of the beautiful opportunities during my last two years in America. After all, I can always go “home.”