America does not set one up for success.

19 Aug

It’s true.  Sure, we’re all born lucky if we’re born in America.  Everything we could possibly want is an arm’s reach away, life is massively convenient, we have access to education, work, technology, fine food, etc., etc.  However.  America does not have it together when it comes to compatibility with the rest of the world.

My brain is knackered.  Exhausted, because literally EVERYTHING that has to do with measurement is different from the system in which I am comfortable.  Let’s start with money.  First if all, yes I’m aware that if you enter a different country anywhere the currency is going to be different relative to the dollar, so it’s not really America’s fault that I have to do calculations.  Whatever, I’m still over trying to divide ever price by 7, or 6.92, or whatever the exchange rate is that day just to figure out what it’s going to pull out of my bank account back home.  Also, foreign transaction fees sucks.

Secondly, can the United States please get with the program and switch over to the metric system already?  Seriously, we’re the only country that doesn’t right?  I haven’t really done a lot of research on the subject, but I’m pretty sure we’re the only idiots still lagging behind.  Centimeters and meters, ok, I can get that, I guess that kind of taught us that in elementary school.  And maybe milliliters and liters are ok too, except trying to figure that out in ounces is ridiculous.  Trying to figure out what the price of gas here relative to the States is ridiculous.  First you’ve got the money, about 10 rand, but that’s per liter (litre?), which is smaller than a gallon, and then I have no idea how many liters/gallons of gas a car tank holds here.  UGH.  For those of you that care, today, it is 7.2 rand per dollar, and there are basically 4 liters in a gallon which means gas is about… $5.55 a gallon??  Jeez, gas is expensive here.  And see?  Now my brain is tired.  I actually probably did that wrong, I never said I was a math savant.

Then, nutritionally we do everything the same, except for calories.  It’s not calories, it’s kilojoules, which are way smaller than calories.  This means that if you happen to glance at nutrition facts without thinking, you think that everything you’re eating is massively horrible for you.  It’s about 4 kj to 1 cal, so once my brain takes a breath and realizes that 1000 kj is not actually all that bad, I can feel free to eat without a panic attack.  Still, more anxiety than I need in my life.

Finally, there is driving.  Ok…so maybe it’s not America’s bad on this one, as most people drive on the right side of the road and South Africa is one of those weird countries that drives on the left (thank you British colonialism).  However, that doesn’t change the fact that if I grew up in the United Kingdom I would have a much easier time transitioning to South Africa.  Getting used to being on the left side of the road with the driver on the right hand side is hard.  It is REALLY counter intuitive.  I’ve been here for a month and I still haven’t got the complete hang of it.  Which means I am having panic attacks about when I actually have to drive on the left side of the road.  Seriously, I had a nightmare two nights ago about learning to drive here.  I’m sure that I’m going to cause massive traffic accidents by going the wrong way around a roundabout and cost myself a broken leg and a gazillion dollars in insurance.  At least I know how to drive manual, as that’s the standard down here as well.

This left side of the road thing also translates to walking.  I’m definitely used to passing on the right when hustling down the street, and back home I’m always the person that gets pissed if somebody is walking towards me on the wrong side of the sidewalk.  Jeez, you’re in America, get it right.  Well, now I’m the jerk walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk and people have to dodge around me before I realize the error of my ways.  I guess I deserve it.

What will happen with all of this is that just as I am getting ready to leave this country I will have it all down, and then I’ll have to go back to the States and relearn my whole life again.  Or America could just convert to the metric system while I’m away.

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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Uncategorized


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