News24

Lovin' it in the USA

2011-05-20 17:21

Jean Barker

Selling all my stuff and moving half way around the world, leaving behind a country I loved, a solid career, friends... all of this seemed crazy to me a year ago, when I quit my job and got on the plane. Crazy - and irresistible of course.

And next thing I knew, I was ordering my first American pizza while the motel's bed bugs began having their own late dinner of my foreign blood. Film school, once a pipe dream I wrote down in my diary, was now emptying out my bank account and disturbing my sleep in a very real way.

At first, I couldn't bring myself to behave like anything except a long-term traveler. All the contracts I've signed are still month-to-month. I preserve my food in a bar fridge with a freezer that doesn't freeze anything. My $14 Target bedside lamp falls over all the time. Even my corkscrew (99c store) is so flimsy they'd probably allow it through the airport in your hand luggage.

I was meant to be excited, but I was miserable and lonely for the first few months.

Everybody I met seemed so conservative, so overly polite... accustomed to South Africans' sledgehammer approach to day to day interaction, I couldn't tell if most Californians - born or newly-minted - were mocking me, trying to sell me something, hedging their bets, or actually being friendly. (Turns out, they can't tell either.)

Foodwise, I remain confused. Half the nation appears to be eating for quintuplets, while the other half is 1/8th the size of the other half. I wonder if they shouldn't just have the big eaters suck the fat directly out of Miami's liposuction tubes. It would save so much time and money.

It was impossible at first to find food that wasn't toxic to my system. I've traveled to countries where you're meant to watch what you eat if you're from anywhere vaguely first world. Madagascar. Mozambique. England. I've eaten off street stands there – eggs that have gone unrefrigerated for entire days in subtropical cities. Crab with the guts still in. No problem!

But American pork or beef or chicken just kills me. I'm convinced it's made from Animalz ™ - or some sort of Frankenstinian Muzak equivalent of meat. And then there's the popcorn. It's bright yellow. And it's $10 a bag. But even this weirdness has become normal for me. I go to Denny's at 2am sometimes, and order American Cheese on my hamburger. It's not really cheese, but it's what they eat here, and I  just can't risk deportation over a slice of Camembert?

It's not worth it. I'm addicted. To the possibilities, even to the fake-ass friendliness, because it sure makes daily life a lot easier.

And yes, feeling safe in day to day life is pretty cool to. No alarm systems. No private security. Just a lock and key. But I'll stop right there - the thing I miss least about South Africa besides the crime and poverty is listening to middle class South Africans endlessly discuss “the crime” and the burden poverty places on them, over beers at their swimming pools. I don't even visit South African websites any more. I don't care to linger over lavish description of every rape that takes place, or plough through 100 racist, sexist diatribes on the comments board in search of one paragraph of sanity.

Instead of reading the news, I tune into the 24 hour jazz station, or listen to NPR, cause that's what well-meaning liberals do here. American public-supported radio is everything I always wished for in media: open-minded, international, and above all, good entertainment with almost no advertising.

But I'll choose interesting over pleasant in the end. I'm South African, that way - trouble is in my blood. Ask the bed bugs. I was their last meal.

So I'm returning to visit South Africa in less than a week.  And there are so many things I'm longing for, so many things I've missed. I can't wait to speak my home language again (and by that, I do mean english). I can't wait to eat good food. I can't wait for the onslaught of beauty that is Cape Town city. I can't wait for the music. I can't wait for the rush of being in a place that's still becoming something new every day. I'm longing to feel I truly belong .

America is amazing. I adore it here. Sometimes I even forget I'm here – I'm just who I am, where I am. I don't even hear the accents anymore. But home is still so beautiful that it hurts to be away from it.

- Jean is studying to be a famous screenwriter you've never heard of in California, USA. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here.

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Comments
  • atticus - 2011-05-20 17:34

    Please do not come back - you are so ignorant. America is decades and decades ahead of South Africa in terms of healthy, fresh produce with variety unheard of in SA. In SA, meat is pumped full of hormones and anti-biotics - no wonder you cannot stomach natural grass fed free range meat. If you can't see it, or find it, you are either blind or wilfully ignorant. BTW, no bedbugs in California.

      Jean Barker - 2011-05-20 19:22

      So, the bed bugs that savaged me were imaginary? Wow. I'm sorry I'm so ignorant. I didn't realise. Thanks for filling me in.

      atticus - 2011-05-20 19:26

      You're welcome, Jean. Unfortunately, your sort of ignorance cannot be cured. BTW, English has a capital "E."

      Lewsi - 2011-05-20 19:30

      And you are so nasty and spiteful.

      Ryan - 2011-05-20 23:28

      atticus, your post is so filled with ignorance I honestly thought your were being sarcastic. If you are being serious then it's a case of 3 fingers pointing back at you...

      Ryan - 2011-05-20 23:42

      http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2960/is-grass-fed-beef-better-for-you-than-grain-fed-beef First a note about the terms grass-fed and grain-fed. As a rule, beef cattle are raised on mother's milk, then on pasture grass for the first couple years of life. After that, most grass-fed cattle just keep on grazing, but grain-fed cattle are sent to a feedlot to stuff themselves for a couple months prior to slaughter, a process called "finishing." (Some cows described as grass-fed are finished in a feedlot on a diet of grass and hay.) A high-grain diet lets cattle put on as much as a pound of meat per six pounds of feed consumed. Large feedlots account for 75 percent of U.S. beef production, and more than 90 percent of the beef we eat is grain-finished.

      ObiterDictum - 2011-05-21 01:50

      Whatever. You should Google "10 reasons why Americans suck".

      atticus - 2011-05-21 01:55

      obiter: google it? You mean use the American invented search engine on the American invented internet using the American invented computer using the American invented operating system?

      Cliff - 2011-05-21 11:12

      what a prick!

      Zelios - 2011-05-21 12:04

      @atticus Your attempt to appear intelligent is not executed very well. If you're incapable of commenting without "trolling", then perhaps its better that you don't waste our time with YOUR ignorant and obnoxious comments.

      Willa - 2011-05-21 12:14

      huh? excuse me? America pumps more growth hormones into their meat than any other country in the world!

      Willa - 2011-05-21 12:18

      @Gab - Being Afrikaans-speaking, I take offence at your assumption that atticus is a "Boer". Not all Boere are complete and utter d*ckheads like atticus. Don't insult me.

      kidblack - 2011-05-21 13:04

      atticus. you are officially the most perturbed peanut in the peanut gallery. I would like to see you string more than three sentences together like Jean did. P R I C K.

      MrTeaCan - 2011-05-22 11:11

      Atticus is probably one of those who wish to go to America but is either not smart or not educated enough.

      Lauren - 2011-05-22 13:32

      Gab, if you are going to use the word "Boer" as an insult, I suggest you man up and accept that you too could be name called along similar lines. I'm over trying to be nice about this. People like you push other's over the edge. You are what you sow and there's no guessing what you are.

      Suzy - 2011-05-22 13:34

      America imports 80% of its food... So its not them who are miles ahead, its all the other countries.

      thebee - 2011-05-22 14:21

      Sjoe atticus, why so bitter?

      atticus - 2011-05-22 22:53

      Suzy: America imports 80% of its food... So its not them who are miles ahead, its all the other countries." Suzy, you do know that the US is the biggest exporter of food in the world, don't you?

      Dassie - 2011-05-23 02:37

      I (and many others - just check) agree with you, that Jean Barker is barking up the wrong tree. Maybe she is still in the tree, if you look at the monkey tricks she is trying to sell to likeminded dimwitted liberal SAcans. That was her attempt at being funny too if I look at some of her cheap remarks. But like all jokers, you should just let them rot in their own tripe.

      Lisaman - 2011-05-23 08:24

      Atticus, my son worked in a kitchen in the states. Everything is so processed there you don't actually know what you eating!! Our meat is a lot more natural than theres!! If you like that already cut cheese that comes in 10 slices covered in plastic, then you'll do okay. I throwup when I order anything with cheese and thats what they serve. Its 10 x more processed in the states!! Enjoy your time back Jean, have fun and then travel back safely!!

      TGIL - 2011-05-23 10:23

      Dude, get a life you negative old loser

      Anya - 2011-05-23 19:59

      my goodness atticus it seems you were never in the usa... I life there for the pass 15 years and boy are you wrong no idea what american meat tast like that is forsure.. come for a visit so we can take you on the tour

      Jeff Toms - 2011-05-25 06:47

      When last were you in SA [dut]another Yank with a know all attitude, ever heard of Karroo lamb ?, our fruit and veg is so fresh you would lose weight eating it.... err.... maybe not.

  • Plesierspier - 2011-05-20 18:26

    I can't agree more. I'm in Canada and experience exactly what you are! And yes, the most annoying thing here unfortunately, is South Africans telling everyone about the crime, how pathetic it is in SA, how you can't put your foot there without being shot and bla bla bla... And then I've seen many a South African talking like that had problems or screwed up in SA, and now everything is screwed up about SA. Like the doctor who got his secretary pregnant and can't understand why his wife and the rest of the town turned their backs on him. All South Africas fault of course

  • atticus - 2011-05-20 18:28

    "I can't wait to eat good food [in SA.]" Once a Wimpy palate, always a Wimpy palate. There are two Michelin starred restaurants in the beautiful SF Bay area town where I live. The town has a population of 25,000. There are many more within a short drive. How many Michelin starred restaurants in the whole of SA? Oh, right. None. America is a beautiful country with natural beauty and variety not seen in SA.

      Jean Barker - 2011-05-20 19:24

      Ha ha. Atticus. I can't afford to eat at Michelin restaurants. But you should try some of the mid-range restaurants in Cape Town. They're amazing. And 8 hours is not a short drive. Not even in the USA. What's wrong with you? I really need to stop responding, but I feel somebody has to say something to you.

      atticus - 2011-05-20 19:29

      What 8 hour drive are you talking about? Are you really as stupid as you come across? SA food is disgusting and expensive.

      Lewsi - 2011-05-20 19:33

      And loads of truly fat people who dress funny.

      Allieo - 2011-05-20 19:38

      OMG Jean you just know how to P#SS me and Atticus off, me to a lesser extent lately. I don’t think you have the emotional or intellectual maturity to fully grasp what you perceive around you. It’s no fault of your own I suppose, but still..... You want to make movies one day?? If wimpy and Spur is how you swing you should mention that to the reader, I bet you there are South Africans out there now who really think that it is impossible to find a good meal in California, when truth be told, in some places in California it is actually impossible to find a bad meal….. But-ja, jy is nou maar soos jy is.....wat kan ek meer se....

      atticus - 2011-05-20 19:51

      I somehow doubt that you have an option of Camembert when you get a Wimpy burger, despite the fact that Wimpy burgers cost 7 times as much as a Denny's burger.

      atticus - 2011-05-20 19:52

      lewsi, true. South Africans are fat and dress funny.

      Jean Barker - 2011-05-21 06:00

      When did I start eating at Whimpy? I'm so confused. And the drive from LA to San Fran is 8 hours - with stops, in traffic. Dumbass.

      atticus - 2011-05-21 06:34

      "Whimpy"???? Why do you need to drive to San Francisco, "dumbass"?

      Eish! - 2011-05-21 09:41

      You're right, attipus, we all respect the Michelin star ratings. Nothing better than a tire manufacturer telling us gourmets what a restaurant should be like.

      Cliff - 2011-05-21 11:18

      You are an embarrassment to South Africans.

      kidblack - 2011-05-21 13:07

      Oh so i assume you have every meal in a Michelin Starred restaurant. Idiot.

      Willa - 2011-05-21 13:56

      @Lewsi: Are you referring to your friends at Walmart?

      Willa - 2011-05-21 14:02

      @atticus: If you took the time to stop looking down your nose at the RSA restaurant scene, you may discover some absolute gems off the beaten track with EXCELLENT cuisine. But then, not serving "traditional" American fare (what would that be anyway?? - texmex, chinese?? but I digress) I doubt you would deem them worthy of your patronage. You are such a d*ck mate.... Plus you obviously have no sense of humour as I suspect this article was written with some humour...but hey, I guess you have fallen prey not just to Denny's but also no longer grasp subtle humour - just slapstick. Kinda like American food...

      FFS - 2011-05-21 15:50

      Seriously people. Are w arguing about Wimpy and Dennys as if they represent cuisine in SA and the USA? Both countries have good restaurants and good cuisine. Eating out in the US is (and I'm talking about actual dining, not the fast food or chain restaurant rubbish) is WAY more expensive than in SA....by a factor of 4 or 5 maybe. A fillet at a good restaurant in the US averages about $32 - $35 (about R220 - R245). How much would that cost you at a decent restaurant in SA? Not R220 I'm sure. We can go around in circles pointing out the good and the bad about both countries ad nauseum. Where one lives and what one likes is a personal choice. Your personal choice does not suck because it is not the same as mine. A little maturity and worldliness goes a long way to making people understand each other better, and be a little more tolerant of differing opinions.

      Kaapie - 2011-05-21 16:41

      Atticus you should learn to cook and in SA the food is good..

      atticus - 2011-05-21 18:01

      FFS: Americans earn dollars, not rands. And the average American earns the SAME NUMBER of dollars that the average SAN earns rands. So the burger that costs $5 in the US and R40 in SA means that the burger is 8 times more expensive in SA. Same ith the $30/R200 steak - 7 times more expensive in SA.

      Savageduck - 2011-05-21 20:22

      FFS; I believe the issue was, Jean in an attempt to present a humorous take on her experience with college life in SoCal has targeted an exaggeration of stereotypical American fast-food. Unfortunately fast-food is deceptively overpriced, and not particularly good nutrition regardless of where you buy it, USA, or SA. It seems there are far better options for decent, affordable food, even for a student on a budget. That goes for SA, USA, and probably even, and here I am just guessing, the UK. One should not live on bad cheeseburgers, Pizza, or fried chicken alone, even if you are trying to be part of your fellow students peer group. On top of everything that starts to get expensive regardless of where you are trying to do it. There are other ways to eat well, and affordably as a student, even, ...er, especially in California.

      Lauren - 2011-05-22 13:40

      Dude, she wrote a column about her experiences, as she gets paid to do. What kind of mentality and personality would take this so badly to react the way you do? You have made this 100% personal. What gives? Jean actually enjoys being where she is, but you are pissing in your pants about two or three little opinions she has about America. You need to do something about whatever it is that is lurking the background of your psyche that is causing you to react so violently to this article. Yes, you are being verbally abusive. Violent. Chill out.

  • lulu - 2011-05-20 20:15

    you are well come Jean . home wil always be home . im like you away from south africa but i stil love my country . the only thing in south africa is peoples must remove hate treat towards each other why bec that is the key which is killing south africa as im a south african i wil always read the new of my country why bec hatetreat is stil alive in that country . which were im peoples i always pray god to come inside of every south african white or black to no that we are all peoples nothing can change that only god can .

  • Gemini101 - 2011-05-20 20:51

    My dear the South Africa you miss in your heart is long long gone. If you call, corruption, and genocide beauty then I think you have overdosed on those cheeseburgers.

      Umfubi - 2011-05-20 22:01

      Good God, wake up and smell the daisies - you're getting carried away with your own ridiculous hype. What an indescribably absurd outlook you have.

      Gemini101 - 2011-05-21 06:07

      Wake up yourself and pull your head out of the sand dude.

      Aitsa - 2011-05-21 15:44

      Oiks like your blinkered, bitching useless selves are good arguments against cousins marrying.

      Kaapie - 2011-05-21 16:43

      Gemini what genocide are u talking about.. Where do you stay I might ask

      Gemini101 - 2011-05-21 23:34

      Kaapie, you don't think that the violent murder of roughly 15% of the white population alone isn't just that? I'm fairly sure the other groups are also alarmingly high. I'm not going to type it all out for you, if you care enough to look it up its all there for those that want to see. I'm just sayin there's nothing beautiful about a country that is killing its own at an alarming rate, denying citizens that were born and bred there for generations, a sense of belonging no matter how beautiful the landscape is.

      daboss247365 - 2011-05-23 09:52

      "Genocide"... LMFAO do you even know what that is and the horrors of it?? Use the right words you stupid monkey!

      daboss247365 - 2011-05-23 09:55

      @Gemini, Dude? Roughly 15%???? How rough is that?? less than 1%. Crime is not a race issue, but a mentality one, & the more you racialise & politicise it, the longer it will be win against us. I am not sure of the numbers, but if you look at crime reporting, I do know over 70% are reported by blacks.. add to this that reports are few & far apart in the poorer communities, & you will find that we are all affected by the same demon, yet choose to fight amongst ourselves as to what colour the crime is & what colour it affects most, when we could have just agreed that the demon should be destroyed irrespective of its colour.

  • Bismuth - 2011-05-20 21:00

    Only thing I missed when I was overseas (Isreal) was friends and family, rest of things I easily adapted to. Could I go over permanently, I would.

      Bismuth - 2011-05-20 21:01

      ugh, I meant *Israel....

  • Umfubi - 2011-05-20 22:05

    Don't worry about atticus, Jean. What he's displaying is leaver's remorse, where he's so determined to make his own decision to leave right that he needs to spit on anything and everything that reminds him of home. You know - shoving South Africa down in order to persuade himself that America is so much better. It's a kind of paranoia. He should join a support group, I'm sure there must be a nice 12-step plan out there that would improve his shitty outlook.

      atticus - 2011-05-20 22:58

      umfubi: I am American born and love my home. I unfortunately wasted a few years in SA and could waste some more there if I cared to, which I don't.

      ObiterDictum - 2011-05-21 01:22

      @atticus ... You're a Yank spewing garbage on a SA website?? Don't you have anything better to do, like invading an oil rich country?

      atticus - 2011-05-21 01:46

      obiter: I'd like to not have billions of US taxpayer dollars (i.e., mine) being given to you beggars in SA. Otherwise, we spend our time coming to the aid of every nation on earth, handing out billions of dollars, and receiving nothing in return.

      piet.strydom - 2011-05-21 04:04

      By the way Atticus, for every dollar the West gives in aid, they give 4.5 to their own farmers in subsidies... No wonder the developing world are struggling. And then, most of the "aid" that you give, comes with the little string attached that says, has to be spend on our products and services. E.g. food aid has to be spent buying grain or wheat from the donor country. So the opportunity to develop the regional econimies goes completely to waste. You are the kind of person that causes much of the rest of the world to hate America so much. But fortunately, not all Americans are like you, I have made some really pleasant friends in the time that I have been here. And you really should not be so easy to look down on other countries - your retail banking system really sucks compared to Europe and even South Africa. Your commercial banking greed has nearly brought world capitalism to its knees, something communism couldn't do in 80 years. And mre than once - LTCM was the first (small) attempt, and then you tried again in 2008, with much better results. In the same vein you have a disproportionate share of corporate scandals - Enron, WorldCom, Madoff, etc etc

      atticus - 2011-05-21 05:25

      Hey, Piet: you are the kind of person (i.e., South African) that makes the world look down on SA: Ignorant, lazy, parochial, smug, foul-mouthed and drunken. The US is the most generous country in the world. South Africans are beggars. Why should I subsidize you?

      Umfubi - 2011-05-21 09:38

      @atticus: oh geez, why didn't you say up front you're an American? Then we could have just ignored you from the beginning. My deepest sympathies.

      Ogre - 2011-05-21 12:37

      @Piet Strudom.I see that atticus ha sthe ability to paint people with a wider paintbrush than the ANC. Thank you for supporting us beggars in SA as the role will soon change. I see that the USA Debt is 8.95 Trillion Dollars, lets do it the long way $8,950 000 000 000-00. That is $28,870 for every man, woman and child in the USA and I see that the debt ceiling has been raised to over $14 Trillion. I wonder if they are not trying to buy goodwill for what is to come. Or will they just invade another country to satisfy their greed.

      kidblack - 2011-05-21 13:11

      @Atticus : You mean Dollars borrowed from the Chinese. You're country is more indebted that those "SA Beggars" you refer to. So please, sort out your current account before you try to swipe the Credit Card of US fortune on us.

      atticus - 2011-05-21 18:03

      America needs to stop sending hundreds of millions of dollars to you beggars in SA. Lazy louts.

      Janine - 2011-05-21 18:14

      @atticus - America needs to stop sending hundreds of innocent soldiers to their deaths in countries that they should not be in in the first place.

      Gemini101 - 2011-05-21 23:40

      Umfubi you are suffering from the classical "South African Arrogance Syndrome) SAAS. I can assure you that life in lawful countries is much much better. Where people live is no concern of yours nor does it change the validity of their experiences.

      RoyoF - 2011-05-23 08:07

      America is not the most generous , its really not about how about how much but how much per head ie,percapita ,( countries like Japan,Norway,Sweden easliy surpass the US) , and then the damage that the US military causes should be subtracted from that . Once youve done that equataion PIET you will find that the USA govt actually causes far more harm than good.(Military Aid definatly does not contribute to Aid either)That said the United States is a great place to live if you are hard working, intelligent and willing to get involved in a society which is conservative ,sentimental and highly competitive . That is why boertjies and Anglo-Saxon neo-cons do well there ...and maybe there is a thin slice of space for aspiring film makers too .On the whole though if you want a exciting ,cultural mix with a strong dose of civil libertarianism than South Africa hands down beats the rule obsessed,tight box that the US can be .There is violent crime in both countries.

      daboss247365 - 2011-05-23 09:59

      @Gemini, life may be a million times better, but it aint home there, so hey, you kno wwho's actually laughing & who's actually cryin. lol, you pathetic shrimp, backboneless creature, you have no loyalty nor real home,so hey, we are better off without your type here, simply cause your only contribution is complaint, & your only dream is to leave. so hey, good luck with the homelessness, & hey, dont expect any handouts of sympathy from fellow south africans when you end up back here :)

  • Fouch - 2011-05-20 23:08

    I have been following your stories on and off since you arrived in America. We are South African's from Cape Town - nogal - living in California - nogal and have been living here for almost 3 years. I found your comments about the American food interesting. Here in Cali I find the Americans are very aware of healthy food. It all depends upon where you eat out or what you choose to eat. As for American cheese, being a lover of cheese and experienced all kinds of cheese from all over the world. America is definitely up there with the greats in their cheese making. Another thumbs up would be the American white wines which honestly can put South African whites to shame. Living in America we are spoilt for choice! The only thing I can relate to in your email is that Californians are very friendly to your face, yet it is difficult to work out if it is genuine. Politically correct is something that us South African's really struggle with and we do tend to be in your face speaking 'our' truth. South Africa is indeed beautiful,especially Cape Town. But so is America. This country is breathtakingly beautiful and I love how every day I discover a new treasure and gem. There is so much freedom too and I love the safety aspect more than anything else in the world. I do miss our South African sense of humour and do enjoy those middle class conversations around a pool or even a table and discussing the latest politics or the crime and debating many different topics.

      piet.strydom - 2011-05-21 04:10

      What I find frustrating about the food, and it sounds like it is the same thing jean is struggling with, is nothing tastes quite the same. Not that it is worse or bad or anything, it just tastes subtly different. Potatoes, french fries, salads, pan cakes, even the home made rusks my ife bakes. But she now uses ROYAL! baking powder from the SA shop, and it seems to have done the trick. It really is a lovely country, with some amazing people, and some not so amazing. But you ignore them as much as youcan, and decide who you want to mix with.

      leigh - 2011-05-21 10:20

      Piet, I sympathize from the other side! I'm an American living in Cape Town and things like ketchup don't taste the same. Somehow that's harder for me to adapt to than entirely new cuisines--at least I have no expectations of how they will taste!

  • Savageduck - 2011-05-20 23:35

    OK! Comments noted. My question is, did you ever get out of L.A.? I am Cape Town born & educated (SACS), and have been living on the California Central Coast for some 30 years now. My last visit to CT was in 2009, and while it is still beautiful, I could not see myself returning to live there now. I have no idea where & what you chose to eat, but you missed out on some of the most exciting cuisine to be found anywhere. California wines and dining needs to be explored beyond fast food outlets. MacDonald's burgers should not be your first choice when it comes to good food in the USA. Where I live in Paso Robles, California I am able to buy domestic and imported cheeses of a variety which would put the Monty Python "Cheese Shop" sketch to shame, including camembert. Other fruit produce in this part of California is superb. Of all the States, California is truly a melting pot, and if you felt you did not fit in, it seems you did not make an effort to step beyond the superficial expectations of those with preconceived notions of life in America. It is a country where you can truly be yourself. Now I must concede, I still have to buy Peck's Anchovette paste on-line.

      Jean Barker - 2011-05-21 06:07

      Savageduck I know you can get the good stuff. It's just expensive - relatively - and not available late at night. There's a general culture of unhealthiness among most people i know. Then again, I am at college. And I'm in Orange, which is even less healthy than LA. Anyhow, it's a humour column, and I think everyone's overreacting. Hilariously of course.

      atticus - 2011-05-21 06:37

      Food in the US is a fraction of the price in SA. Americans are far healthier (and more educated) than SANs. Poor Jean. Bad English teeth,dirty hair, ill-informed and jealous. SAN?

      Savageduck - 2011-05-21 08:31

      Jean, with the Memorial day weekend almost upon us, let me extend an invitation to you, to escape the grind of college life in the unbearable SoCal. I would suggest a train ride up to San Luis Obispo County, where you might experience a somewhat different take on California to those paved, and unbearable parking lots known as L.A. and Orange County. To keep gas costs down and enjoy the view, I suggest AmTrak from L.A. to either San Luis Obispo, or Paso Robles. A round trip should cost about $90-$100. I would be more than happy to play host, as well as tour and dining guide. I believe you would be pleasantly surprised. p.s. I avoid SoCal as much as possible.

      Skilpop - 2011-05-23 11:35

      Californian Chardonnay is to die for!!!!

  • Ryan - 2011-05-20 23:41

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2960/is-grass-fed-beef-better-for-you-than-grain-fed-beef First a note about the terms grass-fed and grain-fed. As a rule, beef cattle are raised on mother's milk, then on pasture grass for the first couple years of life. After that, most grass-fed cattle just keep on grazing, but grain-fed cattle are sent to a feedlot to stuff themselves for a couple months prior to slaughter, a process called "finishing." (Some cows described as grass-fed are finished in a feedlot on a diet of grass and hay.) A high-grain diet lets cattle put on as much as a pound of meat per six pounds of feed consumed. Large feedlots account for 75 percent of U.S. beef production, and more than 90 percent of the beef we eat is grain-finished.

  • GForceZA - 2011-05-20 23:55

    I spent close to 2 years in the USA, and loved every second of it. I can identify to just about everything you've mentioned. I miss it everyday, but at the same time, I missed SA when I was there as well. Enjoy your visit!!!

  • perthbok - 2011-05-21 01:30

    All good. I just came back from the central coast of California on Monday. What a place. carmel, Cambria. Etc. Absolutely amazing. America is a magic place and I absolutely loved it Must say, great to be back in Perth again too. sorry guys but SA is a stuffed up place. Curse me if you wish but SA is losing it very quickly Chers

      atticus - 2011-05-21 01:48

      Glad you enjoyed it. A very beautiful part of the world.

      Savageduck - 2011-05-21 04:58

      Living about 30 miles inland from Cambria, at Paso Robles, all I can say is, I hope you enjoyed all the fine dining that bizarre little town has to offer, and not one McDonalds within miles. I guess you weren't able to make the drive along Hwy. 1 through Big Sur, because of the road closure. Come back soon.

      Daniel Jones - 2011-05-21 14:14

      Did a road trip through the US in Dec and spent 2 days in Cambria. Odd and wonderful little town. The lady asked me where in South Africa I was from, so I said Durban, she said "German"? I just said yes - dumbass Loved San Fran, LA was crap. Vegas, always good!!

  • Gab - 2011-05-21 03:12

    The writer of this article, Jean Baker, is the most racist ignorant dummy. I have lived in the USA for more than 20 years and your description of USA is a lie. The USA is the most racist country that if you're black your life belongs to the zoo called ghettos--far away from a white man's paradise. Being a foreign white--you have more opportunities than an African American. Poverty of an African American has made their neighborhoods a No go zone--just like in South Africa where crime is now spilling over to the white man's paradise neighborhoods. In the USA a white man's paradise is well protected by the police. A black man driving in those neighborhoods is likely to be stopped. Jean Baker, don't tell me you know the USA. You're insulting Americans. I guess in South Africa you just hate to see a bunch of black faces which makes you uncomfortable. You're a duck and you definitely quack like a duck. Once racist you will always remain a racist.I don't know why news24 has to give you a forum to write your stupid article. You only stayed in the USA for a while and suddenly you know life about the USA. South Africa does not need racist people like you, and I hope you get a green card and stay in the USA, and we don't need you in South Africa. What a rubbish you wrote.

      atticus - 2011-05-21 05:32

      Black people in the US have been given every opportunity and more to be successful. They have been given everything on a silver platter, as have been Hispanics. Both groups are a huge drain on the American taxpayer. Unfortunately, liberals believe that blacks and Hispanics cannot be successful and have instituted very harmful policies.

      Jean Barker - 2011-05-21 06:11

      I'm only writing about California and where I'm living in California. I don't think I really tackled the topic you're raising. I don't know enough about it to really discuss the topic, even from a personal perspective. I'd also like to apologise to people of all races, creeds, religions, genders and sexual orientations for not discussing issues specific to you in an 800w humour column about homesickness. To put it differently: Gab, you're an embarrassment. To someone. Not sure who you would want to hang with you :-)

      Eish! - 2011-05-21 09:38

      Gab, while Jean Baker is an ignorant dummy, so are you. If a black dude can become president of the USA, then it's not the system. It's you - a pathetic loser that comes and whines here, instead of going out there and getting things done. Don't come play the race card (in Africa/SA, the USA) everywhere you go - go do some work, lazy racist bum! "What a rubbish you wrote."

      Umfubi - 2011-05-21 09:48

      @Jean: reading some of these jerks makes the words 'quantum leap' come to mind. There's no point in trying for a reasoned debate on here, unfortunately. Being party to some of these thought processes frankly scares the shite out of me. It's really a marvel what goes on inside peoples' heads: logic, humour, reason, balance, perspective all seem to be completely alien concepts. Oh well. At least I got the point of your column, with about 3 others. Keep plugging away! :-)

      leigh - 2011-05-21 10:26

      Wow, Gab, generalize much? A quarter of US blacks live below the poverty line--too many, but hardly all, or even the majority. There's a huge black middle class who would take offense to being told they live in dangerous ghettos. Maybe you should make the acquaintance of some of those folks in Atlanta, DC, Houston, LA, I could go on...before you make sweeping generalizations about African-Americans. I lived in a black neighborhood, worshipped at a black church, and worked at a black nonprofit for several years and loved my community and never felt unsafe or like I lived in a ghetto.

      FFS - 2011-05-21 15:59

      Gab, A black driving in the white suburbs in the US might well be stopped by the police. But a white person driving in the south side of Chicago is very likely to be stopped by the black locals......and not for a Q&A either. Get rid of that chip on your shoulder chap. Pick yourself up and do something about positive to improve your situation rather than blame it all on whitey.

      Spyker - 2011-05-22 19:16

      Ha, ha, ha, Jean Barking, I mean Jean Barker, perhaps you should go back to SA - just not CT (please). SA has certainly gone NEARLY 360 - ie the 'full-circle' took it to a parallel-, but inverse universe... You call yourself a "...well-meaning liberal...". LOL - there is a God (even if he missed his appointment on the 21st).

  • WALM - 2011-05-21 03:34

    I do believe US is the greatest country. Its diversity, culture and great places to visit. I've lived in Aus and the UK both pale in comparison. Aus I found too pommie for me, backward, "nickle and dime" mentality and the aussie attitude to foreigners leaves alot to be desired. They think they live in "Gods own country mate!". So, Jean believe me you are lucky to have this opportunity to live in a great country, no matter what these idiots tell you. Stick it out girl, you won't be sorry!

      Paco7 - 2011-05-23 10:11

      hahahhahahhah.....u a joke man if u think America is a great country,they a bunch of gullible,naive ,junk food munching, drug induced slobs

  • BedBug - 2011-05-21 04:17

    Frank, the BedBugChaser here, you may want to Google "Alarming combo: Bedbugs with 'superbug' germ found" this story is scary, isn't it? Also, Avtron just finished our latest and greatest weapon in the war on BedBugs, go to http://www.avtronloadbank.com/lb_whatsnew.htm#Heater to see the what the future holds for the BedBug.

  • Gab - 2011-05-21 07:18

    Jean Baker, I saw your respond and that of your fellow white South Africans about the comment I made of your article. The truth is that I wouldn't even dream in my life go out with you-- I would rather take go out with a White American woman than a racist white South African woman. One of your fellow white South Africans their comments went to the extend of complaining about Mexicans and blacks that they live on American taxpayer's money. Mr. KKK and MS KKK what is your business in interfering with other people's country. You bring your apartheid "ISMS" to disturb peace in American which is a very diverse country. Jean, the school you go to--I mean Dodge College is for the rich white kids just as you are. Diversity in that college is not a word that is known. I know the school very well. I'm not surprise you find that neighborhood so great because is the same environment of your neighborhood in South Africa. Your quacking is that of a duck and you are a duck. Stop telling lies!

      Daniel Jones - 2011-05-21 14:07

      Can someone please tell me what this Gab person is on about. LOOOOOW IQ

      William - 2011-05-21 14:11

      Struggling with the English there gab...ask the chip on your shoulder to help

      groovyspecs - 2011-05-21 14:13

      wow, that chip on that shoulder must really be weighing you down. how you got all that from an article on homesickness is truly amazing.

      Allieo - 2011-05-21 15:06

      Gab, You are a sorry sack of shit, I can tell you if you lived in any other country you would have been out on the streets now with your horrible limiting believes it sounds like you have taken more than you have given in life so if were not that you are living in a first world country you would have been on the streets today.........

  • Eish! - 2011-05-21 09:28

    Ms Barker, you're back with your pathetic ramblings. And it seems you still haven't learnt to take any criticism. If you write in a public forum, then be prpeared to take it on the chin (or chins, as it will soon be if you keep eating burgers at 2am).

      Gab - 2011-05-21 13:41

      Fish Calling me pathetic doesn't help. I love South Africa, and I cannot standby someone like Jean putting my country down that there is too much crime. I think during apartheid there was so much crime than now. These crimes were committed by white people. Every day at the train stations and streets white police officers will beat and shot black people for the hell of it. The alleged crimes that you claim is happening in South Africa cannot compared to the brutal apartheid crime. The source of crime is poverty. In the U.S. 90% of black males have tasted jail or are on probation before they reach the age of twenty. Anybody who has been in trouble with the law his/her voting rights are taken away regardless of having paid for the crime. To make it worse--employers find an excuse to discriminate minorities when we come to jobs because of their criminal background. Fish--I'm more educated than you, and I have a good job. For you to call me lazy and to get a job that is the S mentality I was talking about. You assume I'm illiterate and I don't have a job. You're definitely an angry white man blaming everythings on Mexicans and blacks.

      leigh - 2011-05-21 14:49

      Now you're just making things up, Gab, which I can't abide. Where are your statistics from? The DOJ says black males have a 16% chance of going to jail *in their entire lives* and yet you argue that 90% of them are in the justice system by the time they're 20? Someone's lying and somehow I think it isn't the Department of Justice. There are valid critiques to be made about race in America but you stop being a voice worth listening to when you are so incredible and VERIFIABLY wrong.

      Allieo - 2011-05-21 15:14

      @ Gab, you personify every thing I hate in people this is the very reason I fled from SA, 40 million Gads. Thank God people like you are not part of my reality anymore!!!!!! You sad, backward and deprived individual!!!!! be gone!!!

  • maverix - 2011-05-21 10:07

    @ Atticus: the american-invented computer? maybe you should google "who invented the computer?"

      Thabi_C - 2011-05-22 16:55

      I saw that lil' atiicus lie too...the internet was invented by an English man by the name of Tim Berners-Lee...google or wikepedia it

  • leigh - 2011-05-21 10:13

    I miss NPR. As an American living in SA, I know exactly how you feel. It's wonderful here, but it's not home, and it'll be good to get back. Enjoy your visit!

  • wajou - 2011-05-21 10:24

    Sjo people are giving you flack at this post. i think the contrasts your pointing out comes across as pointless, and that one paragraph of sanity is not strong enough. i still enjoy your posts. keep it up

  • Tom444 - 2011-05-21 10:33

    Atticus internet is whaaay to cheap in the US. How long have you sat wasting your time crapping over S.A ? We don't need arrogant idiots like you commenting about our country, we have enough South African citizens doing that already. Jean have a great time and when your a famous screenwriter remember us back here in S.A.

  • Cliff - 2011-05-21 11:11

    Welcome back to SA Jean.I hope you have a wonderful holiday.Just pray you don't have to bump into the likes of septic atticus. I wonder why people have to be so bitter?

  • IceMan - 2011-05-21 11:38

    do we look like we care about yr life

      groovyspecs - 2011-05-21 14:11

      why bother reading the column then?

  • Jason - 2011-05-21 12:58

    Please stop writing about how amazing America is. We don't really care. But good luck with becoming a famous screenwriter and also with all the Tweets you and the other Twits are making.

  • pistolpete - 2011-05-21 13:37

    atticus you have absolutely no right to dis my country and my people. Sure, you are allowed you shallow opinions, but don't purge your garbage here

  • Daniel Jones - 2011-05-21 14:01

    There is a guy on here, atticus (with a small "a"). Ranting and raving about how crap SA is and how brilliant America is, generous, helping other nations, etc. I can only suggest to him to go read the book, "why the world hates America". It really spells it out dummy-style. He states that "The US is the most generous country in the world" - nope, that honor goes to Scandinavian counties who give without condition. The US will only ever do something if its in their interest (does he conveniently forget that the "mighty" US only got off their fat asses to joing the rest of the world in conflict at the end of 1941 (2 years after the UK, South Africa, Australia, Canada, etc) and only because they were attached at Pearl harbor, yet in the aftermath of 9-11 the UK and many others wasted no time in support of the US. Proof that the US is nothing more than that fat kid, bigger than everyone else, whose parents spoiled him rotten. So I think its fair to say that everyone on here should just ignore atticus with a small "a"!

  • groovyspecs - 2011-05-21 14:15

    Another nice post Jean. I have also been away from home for extended periods of time and although the adventure is wonderful one can't help but miss the familiar things from home. Ignore the likes of atticus, he clearly doesn't get it.

  • Rupesh - 2011-05-21 15:01

    Jean Barker - I lived in the US for the last 5 years before returning to SA in Dec. I adore the US too. Lovely place and lovely people. At the end of my studies, I got great job offers, in fact great job offers that translates to green card within a year (academic jobs are great, aren't they). Despite that, I decide home is just lovelier. I LOVE cape town, sometimes not the people (especially customer service people), but still love this place. I know how you feel. Enjoy your studies.

  • Looking@SA - 2011-05-21 15:10

    Jean, As an American who also loves SA I have enjoyed your blogs. You have caused me to smile more than once with your observations about america and americans. I hope you finally met some Americans who didn't think that lions roamed the streets of SA and didn't seem so surprised that you wore clothes. One day I plan to live in SA for part of each year with my SA wife. As to English. It has been said by many an Americans and Brits we are two countries separated by a common language.

  • Rose - 2011-05-21 15:10

    So look forward to seeing you Jean (nothing your mom's anticipation), maybe with Jint. Travel well. love Rose J

  • ds - 2011-05-21 17:02

    You picked California and a one star motel by the sounds of it but NPR says it all - LIBERAL BELLY ACHING - I am a born SA and now in the States and do not know what you are talking about other than it's tripe (yuk on the tripe thought, now that's horrible stuff)- you have a lovely day now you hear - from the Southern part of the USA

  • perthbok - 2011-05-21 17:21

    USA is great, Aus is awesome and half of SA"s wish they could leave just like the other half already have. So let poor Jean enjoy her trip to SA and let Atticus be proud of the US. You guys can cling to juju and the rest of the zoo there. Go Perth!

  • atticus - 2011-05-21 18:05

    As an American who lived in South Africa for 28 years and who has been back home in the wonderful USA for many years, I can say that, although I had some good times in South Africa, I could never live there again for many, many reasons, including: Not having access to a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables; Not having access to top quality meat, fish and poultry; The outrageously high cost of living in South Africa; The outrageously high crime rate in South Africa; Crowded, expensive and below par schools; The ubiquitous smell of cigarette smoke; Arrogant, parochial Saffers saying "There is no place better than SA"; Being asked "Where do you live? What car do you drive?" by each person you meet; Aggressive, inconsiderate, bad drivers; Terrible service; Long lines everywhere; Ridiculous shopping hours; Trash and junk littering streets everywhere; That most South African experience: Bring and Braai. "Hi! Want to come over for a braai Saturday?" "Yes! That would be great. Can I bring anything?" "Just whatever you want to eat and drink." I would truly miss the intellectual stimulation of mixing with highly educated, well-traveled people who are very involved in their communities and very, very generous.

      Umfubi - 2011-05-21 21:56

      .... and very, very tolerant, obviously, if they hang out with you.

      thebee - 2011-05-22 14:27

      All I can say is good riddance atticus. SA is obviously better off without you.

      sannie - 2011-05-22 14:37

      Where in SA did you live??

      Weasledna - 2011-05-22 15:31

      Never mind where in SA did he live , what century did he live here ..

      Rupesh - 2011-05-23 00:51

      oh my gosh, atticus is one of the few americans who have a passport....apparently he mixes with the highly educated in the US. I wonder how many of those highly educated know where Iraq is! I was once asked by an American (educated one too), "where is South Africa". Not sure how to answer that one lol.

  • Daniel - 2011-05-21 19:34

    Atticus, as a dairy farmer, I can tell you that most American livestock aren't fed grass but rather corn because its cheaper. But since corn isn't what these animals are designed to eat, they get sick, and are then given antibiotics. It's a big problem with farmers that many of us can't fix, because we're legally bound by corporate owners - like Purdue. It's understandable that alot of people get sick. Lucky for us though, we're organic.

  • Excl - 2011-05-21 19:50

    @atticus. SA expensive? what are you on about? bring and braai? being here for 28 years and returning? Where do you live what car do you drive? It sounds to me like you were a bit of a slacker thats why people asked where u stayed and what car you drove cause they were confused by the piece of kak you were driving into their driveway. you were probably complaining constantly about our beef and thought let this tosser bring his own food to braai. What a wanker. Thank God you left. Now go do your shift at Mcdonalds

      leigh - 2011-05-21 21:35

      Excl, food and many luxuries *are* more expensive in SA. They just are. I pay R30 for strawberries here when they're *in season* and at home that same box of strawberries would be about R14. Anything imported--which means most decent shampoos, deodorants, razors, all the personal care items--are twice as expensive. And electronics--God, the electronics. Kindle, iPad, DVD players, iPods--all far more expensive (and on Apple products, you don't even get Applecare, which is why I buy mine when I'm home). Property is cheaper in SA. University education is as well (and you get what you pay for). Don't know about cars as I've chosen not to have one (don't want to deal with theft, and don't start harping about how it's not as bad as everyone thinks--a family member owns the largest private security firm in South Africa and I know what the situation is, aside from my own pleasant experience of having been mugged twice). But the small luxuries that contribute to quality of life--nice linens, a decent cup of coffee, a good laptop, a great pair of boots--are all more expensive here than they are in the US. That's not a criticism of SA--obviously its consumers suffer as well, and since your manufacturing sector has been basically decimated, you're paying a hefty import tax on most goods. But atticus is not wrong in saying it's expensive to live here unless you're going to live in a township.

      Umfubi - 2011-05-21 22:04

      @ leigh: If you're paying R30 for strawberries, *in season*, then either you're buying them by the crate, or you're shopping at Woolies. And if you insist on buying imported shampoos etc, then don't whine about the cost. If you go to America and insist on buying South African products there, trust me, you'll pay through the nose for those, too. Local products are largely pretty good, quality-wise - give them a try, you may catch a wake-up. I'm not entirely sure about our manufacturing sector being basically decimated, either... but anyway.

      leigh - 2011-05-21 22:31

      My understanding, Umfubi, is that the textile industry in particular has taken it on the chin as have a number of other manufacturing sectors, in large part because of cheap Chinese imports. I'd love any tips you have on good local products. I tried local shampoos and deodorants and hated them--decided it was worth it to have stuff shipped from home. Ice cream: another thing that's either poorly made here or crazily expensive because of import tax (R70 for a pint of Haagen-Dazs, for example). Oh, I miss ice cream. Although Magnum bars see me through the dark times.

      leigh - 2011-05-21 23:08

      And books. Oh, Lord, books. A UCT prof told me the prohibitive cost of books was why courses all had course packets instead of proper books (when I expressed dismay that political science students don't read John Locke or Machiavelli or Plato, they read *about* Locke and Machiavelli and Plato). I support the SA publishing industry when I can, because it's small (5,000 sold makes a book a bestseller) and I like to support local industry, particularly when it's related to literacy, but when the difference is R100 at home vs R280 for the same book (in one case, it was Jansen's "Knowledge in the Blood"; in another, I paid $10 for Godwin's book on Mugabe when it cost the equivalent of $35 here)--well, I came back from the States after Christmas with a suitcase full of books and the rest I buy on Kindle, since my Kindle is registered in the US and therefore gets books SA Kindles don't. I do find that sad--the cost of books is prohibitive, so the industry is small and has to charge a lot to make a profit, which keeps the price prohibitive, and so on. But I can't blow the budget on books and Amazon and Barnes and Noble have spoiled me.

      Umfubi - 2011-05-22 00:32

      @Leigh: get yr strawberries at Fruit 'n Veg when they're around. Try Pantene shampoo, get it when it's on special at Dischem. No idea why you think foreign razors are better... plenty of choice here. Same with deodorants etc. Haagen Dasz is sold here for a niche market - it's wildly overpriced, no justification other than sheer profiteering. If you find ice creams marked 'ICE CREAM' (not 'frozen dessert' or 'sorbet' or anything), then by law it has to contain a certain amount of butter fat (ie, cream) and it should be ok - try the various brands, they're not all terrible at all. See, this is what this column was about. You like the stuff you're used to - so does Jean. That doesn't make everything else bad. Comparing prices using an exchange rate is also not fair - price evaluation should relate to income levels, which is obviously not practical for a non-earning traveller who has to use foreign currency (converted) to buy stuff. I know books are expensive (have you tried online at Kalahari.net, or loot.co.za? Compare, their prices vary). You can often pick up stuff at Cafda (next to Boardmans in Claremont), or Oasis (Lansdowne Road) or one of the TEARS shops, or the one at St Luke's... Cafda's often got academic books and you'd be contributing to a good cause. UCT used to have a book exchange too, but I have no idea if they still do. There. Some ideas for you.

      atticus - 2011-05-22 01:40

      Leigh: Everything is cheaper in the US than in SA, including housing and college education. American households earn, on average, the same NUMBER of dollars that the average SAN family earns in rands, i.e., $75k and R75k. Therefore, unless the same item costs the same in dollars as in rands, it is either cheaper or more expensive (do not use the exchange rate). For example, a burger that costs $5 in the US, is 8 times more expensive in SA at R40. You will find similar ratios on all food and other every day items. You can do the same exercise with college tuition. The average price of a house in SA is R960,000 and the mortgage interest rate is 9%. The average price of a home in the US is $270,000 and the mortgage interest rate is 3% and tax deductible – you do the math. Similarly, the cheapest car in SA, from what I understand, is about R70,000, or approximately an entire year’s income for the average household. In the US, it is $10,000, or about one and a half month’s income for the average household. Factor in interest, and the gap is even wider. In addition, tax rates are far lower in the US.

      atticus - 2011-05-22 01:46

      excl: I was in the top 5% of earners in SA, and am in the same bracket in the US.

      piet.strydom - 2011-05-22 03:58

      Actually the per capita (i.e. average income) in the US is $40 584. http://bber.unm.edu/econ/us-pci.htm What else did atticus get wrong by about 100%....?

      atticus - 2011-05-22 05:57

      Piet: Do you not know the difference between per capita income and household income? Why are SANs so stupid???

      leigh - 2011-05-22 08:59

      Thanks, Umfubi. I'm not familiar with Dischem--I love Pantene, that's the one I usually use and get disgruntled when it's so expensive at Clicks or Pick N Pay. I'll be sure to check those out, as well as the book sites (indeed, *especially* the book sites). Really do appreciate it.

      atticus - 2011-05-22 19:21

      As a Share of Income, Americans Have the Most Affordable Food in World & It's Never Been Better Inspired by an item in today's "The Gartman Letter," the chart below displays data from the USDA comparing household spending on food as a share of final consumption expenditures for 84 countries around the world. Share of Household Spending on Food, 2008 United States 6.9 % South Africa 19.8% http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2011/02/americans-still-have-cheapest-food-in.html

      piet.strydom - 2011-05-22 21:57

      @atticus : Oops, I made a mistake. But you're still 50% out....

  • Lottie - 2011-05-22 00:50

    @Jean - entertaining articles on America that I have enjoyed reading. It's always interesting to read expat's views of their adopted countries. Living abroad is a topic close to many South African's hearts of course, with so many living abroad, or knowing someone who does. Can someone ever feel as comfortable living overseas as they do in their home country? I think they can (especially given time, the first months of adjustment are always hard), but it depends on where you come from and where you go. I'm an Australian who lived in Europe for many years and felt welcomed there and felt I fit in easily. However, having lived here in SA for a couple of years, I can't unfortunately say the same. Perhaps it's because there's so many other issues here, people generally seem quite polarised and always have an opinion of what they think various other cultures entail (usually not complimentary!). I've been judged before even opening my mouth here, which I find quite rude and unfair. Although I suppose that's what happened to so many people for so long, so perhaps I can't really complain too much. But, it has reinforced the lessons my mother taught me about never judging people on appearance or your own preconceived ideas, so I suppose I have gained overall by my experience of living here :)

      Jean Barker - 2011-05-22 05:15

      I'm sorry to hear that. I guess I judge my country by the cool people I know there. I've built a little shelter or awesomeness around me over the years. And my friends are so damn cool. Thanks for your balanced thoughts on my column, though. I hope my teasing of Americans didn't override my mostly positive feelings for you. Seems a lot of people missed the point by reacting to one small thing as if it were the whole story.

  • AJ - 2011-05-22 07:13

    Never seen so many people totally miss the whole point of an article before. I dont think that is the author's fault, but more an indication of people in separate countried falling over themselves to pick an argument with each other, failing which they would then turn on the author. Anything, I suppose, to avoid posting some accptable content that relates to the topic. The oftused and well understood art of hyperbole is also lost on the current lot. For the record, the States is awesome in a million different ways, SA whilst on a downward spiral still possesses it's own gems. End of.

      brenda - 2011-05-23 06:52

      Please tell us ignorant ones what the point was. I am serious, this seems to be one confused complainer to me. She also mentions that hers is an "800w humour column." Just what is that?

  • Mos - 2011-05-22 09:16

    There is nothing better than having a parcel fish n "slapchips" wrapped in paper,with a bottle white wine,watching the sunset from Chapmans Peak,makes you forget about crime and nasty bedbugs.Good old SA food,the best in the world.

  • Gab - 2011-05-22 09:46

    Allioe I'm glad you left South Africa, and we don't miss you aorta. Don't come back and be gone. Tatatatata.

      Umfubi - 2011-05-22 10:14

      Aorta? That's bloody hilarious!!!! I think maybe you mean iota? This *almost* beats my previous favourite, also gleaned from News24 comments - someone being described as a 'pre-madonna'. Thank you!

      AJ - 2011-05-22 11:07

      @Umfubi: 'pre-madonna'!!!! That was hilarious. Can you beleive it!? They walk amongst us...

      Umfubi - 2011-05-22 14:21

      @AJ - they do indeed walk amongst us. If only they would refrain from TYPING amongst us...

  • MrTeaCan - 2011-05-22 11:08

    When need more people like you in our country,people who know that after the rain there will be a rainbow.

  • Channi77 - 2011-05-22 15:30

    Sorry but your article doesn't make sense...First, you bitch and moan about States, then you bitch and moan about SA and then you changed your direction and say that you can't wait to come out to SA...You sound confused..

      El Cid - 2011-05-24 15:33

      Perhaps you should re-read her article. I think that you have misread it.

  • goyougoodthing - 2011-05-22 16:53

    Interesting read Jean, I've done some traveling and lived in a few countries and I know, no matter how bad things are here, I would rather have South African problems than American or Australian ones. Kudos to you for having the guts to go, many wouldn't. The comments on your article are also quite pathetic and hurtful, I don't understand why people need to be so nasty.

  • Joe - 2011-05-22 17:17

    Go prepared, or don't go at all.

  • theprodigy - 2011-05-22 17:41

    yawn, thanks for sharing, I know many expats that have tried to live in USA, they are another bread, we are not compatible, they generally irritate us Saffers. I wouldn't want to live there, SA has culture, unlike the US & Aus.

      El Cid - 2011-05-24 15:31

      Another bread? Don't you mean breed? Have you ever lived there? or visited? SA has culture? which one would that be? The only culture in SA is what you find in yoghurt. They wouldn't want you there either. Very intellectual of you of course.

  • Viva! SA - 2011-05-22 18:46

    Jean, thanks for interesting reading about America. Please ignore the typical negative comments from many readers. Enjoy life and enjoy your visit to South Africa. Have a good red wine in Cape Town!!

  • Popit - 2011-05-22 19:59

    Good for you. All these idiots on this site, is too narrow minded or jealous to just keep these mouths shut. If some/ ALL of them had half a chance, they would leave this crap hole as well... We will be joining you soon in the US, so enjoy your visit back home.

  • paulmandlankosi - 2011-05-22 20:00

    "I don't even visit South African websites any more...." _________________________________________________________ Yet you visit News24, you are confused

  • william.botha - 2011-05-22 20:22

    Row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily merrily, life is but a dream. Jean, you are better off in the States, this place is going downhill faster than you'll be able to keep up to.

  • brenda - 2011-05-23 00:15

    Do you expect anyone to believe you stayed at a motel with a non working freezer and bedbugs? Businesses close at the mere mention of bedbugs. Why wouldn't you complain or stay elsewhere?

  • brenda - 2011-05-23 00:51

    re:Lovin it in the USA You're right, Jean, trouble is in your blood! Nothing is good enough for you. FYI: if there really are bedbugs where you are staying and the freezer doesn't work, sue for enough money to direct your own independent movie. By the way, exactly what language are they speaking in LA these days?