Why is it that even halfway across the world, we look for familiar things? Things we’re comfortable with? Is it for a sense of “home” or is it simply because we are scared to try new things? From our time here in Budapest, we’ve quickly pointed out the similarities in restaurants, foods and brands we can find in the United States as well.
We go to stores and see labels for things we can find at our local H-E-B or Walmart. Heinz ketchup, Glade air freshener, Cheetos, Coke and Sprite, Skittles, Dannon yogurt and so many other familiar products – the list goes on. We see McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Subway and Starbucks and instantly our moods are improved just by seeing things that make us feel comfortable – that make us remember where we are from.
Here are what I believe to be the top four reasons we are so drawn to these Americanized things and places:
1. They’re convenient
They’re on almost every corner and the service is quick. We have a McDonald’s right by our apartment complex and it’s the closest food to us. It all goes back to that lazy American mindset – not wanting to take a 20 minute tram ride to another part of the city and explore but instead just get what is easiest and closest to us. We also are already taking big steps out of our comfort zones by being here for such a long period of time, so these small reminders help us realize how close we really are to home.
2. We know what we’re getting
Being raised on these foods and brands, we know exactly what we buy and what it will taste like. We don’t have to be nervous about tasting something we’ve never tried before. And if we are being completely honest, we don’t like not knowing what we’re going to get; I’d say it’s an American’s greatest fear. In our defense, I think the language barrier might have a little bit to do with that though.
3. We don’t like stepping out of our comfort zones
It’s uncomfortable to be uncomfortable. Most people are not big on trying new things or change in general. Especially not change in food, which can be risky for more reasons than one. Taste, flavor, digestive problems and allergies are only a few of the reasons people are afraid to try new things. Even when we go grocery shopping, we try to find things that we think are similar to what we’d eat at home.
4. We are unsure how to appreciate other cultures
We don’t know how to appreciate other cultures because if we’re being honest, America doesn’t really have a “culture”. I believe we just kind of feed off of what other countries do and give it a twist. To us though, we believe that we’ve got things figured out in America – that we’ve won so many different battles that it only makes sense for others to want to be like us.
“Our greatest fear is the fear of the unknown.”