As some of you may already know, I have never been the most patriotic person in the United States, haha. The most extreme example of this was when I was in 7th grade... I went to our community's 4th of July parade with an England t-shirt on and waved a British flag.
While abroad in both Rome and England, I had some moments where I just missed being in the States. Not only that, but there were quite a few moments where I felt my pride of being an American (as cheesy as that sounds) grow.
Here are a few things I missed about being in my home country while being a student abroad:
The simplest way to explain this one is to tell you about one of my long walks around London. I had a free day to explore all by myself, so I decided to just walk....and walk and walk. I started in St. James Park, walked through Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park, down Regent and Oxford Streets, and somewhere along the way I ended up outside of the US Embassy. It was such a surreal moment...after three months of seeing the Union Jack waving everywhere, I looked up to see an American Flag waving and the US crest engraved on the sidewalk. Without realizing it, a huge smile spread across my face and in an odd way I felt more at home.
2.) Knowing what to do when I walked into a restaurant
This one is a bit of a challenge to explain, but there is just a certain level of comfort I have when I walk into any American restaurant that is missing in European restaurants. After two semesters abroad, I have learned to love the more hands-off customer service approach that I experienced in Italy and England, but it was quite strange to me at first. Not being instantly welcomed, having to wave down our server to order our food, and other little things like that took getting used to.
3.) Knowing random pop culture figures without thinking
A unique part of my London experience was that I not only got to take classes, but got to work in a British private-members' club two days a week! The days I spent at my internship were some of the best days because I was completely immersed in the British culture.
This immersion came with quite a bit of confusion. There were a lot of moments where my coworkers just assumed I knew what/where/who they were talking about because it was from their childhood, on popular TV, or just really common British knowledge. I knew that if any one of them came to work in the United States, they would be as lost as I was in conversation. It is strange to think about how many little bits of knowledge we take for granted and how much the country we live in affects our conversations.
All in all, I guess what I am trying to say is that after spending two semesters living outside of the United States, I have become patriotic. I love the core values that I associate with America: unity, hard work, and individuals making up a greater whole. I love our quirks and our unspoken rules.
p.s. This does not mean that I am not moving to England the first chance I get.
p.p.s This does mean that I will miss America more than I had expected in the past.