As Dorothy once said, there’s no place like home. But for Americans living abroad it’s the small reminders of life in the USA which they can end up missing the most, including Tinned Chow Mein, Swedish Fish and a decent car parking space.
Although we can’t post a parking space, warm weather or a bus load of smiling friends and family, if you could fill a Thanksgiving care package for an American stranded abroad, what would you put in it? Here’s what a few of our favourite ex-pat American bloggers had to say:
Hi Rebecca, what do you miss most about the states, especially living in Yorkshire?
I’ve actually found it harder than I expected to figure out exactly what I miss, but here goes: The first item is American candy. I am an avid fan of gummy candy, especially Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids. Sour Patch Kids do exist here, but the texture is very different. And yes, you can buy both of these in American candy shops, but they cost quite a bit more than they would back home.
Here are some other tasty highlights:
- Starburst jelly beans, and candy corn.
- Going out for American breakfast.
- Enjoying my dad’s homemade pancakes on a lazy morning around my parents’ kitchen table.
Meghan Fenn – www.bringingupbrits.co.uk
Hi Meghan, your website is about bringing up American kids in Britain and it raises some interesting cross-culture moments, but what do you miss most about the States?
What I miss the most is American Parking lots. Being able to drive into a parking lot and park my car without fearing I’m gonna scrape the side of my car or damage someone else’s car. Being able to open my car door once I’ve parked and exiting my car without having to injure myself because there is literally not enough space for the car door to open wide enough for a person to get out without sucking their gut in and scraping themselves on the door. And I’m a small person! Seriously, easy stress-free driving and parking is something I miss on a daily basis.
Even though the driving distances are shorter, the driving is much more intense and much more stressful due to the smaller roads. Around my town, because everyone parks on the side of the road, there sometimes isn’t enough room for two cars to drive down the road at the same time. So it’s constant stopping, pulling in or reversing to let someone else go. It’s easier to walk!
Lisa – www.unitedcakedom.com
Hi Lisa, your site is packed full of tasty delights, I can only assume that you miss the American sweet-tooth the most?
Nope! It has to be the stores, especially Bath and Body Works! Every time I visit home I stock up on my favourite scents and new ones! I also miss Aeropostale although I shopped there loads while in college who knows if I still would! I also miss just walking around Target because Target was the best!
Lauren Bcock – www.hotdogstohaggis.com
Hi Lauren, it seems you have embraced your Scottish routes and headed to the highlands – you must have a good idea of what American’s find hard about living abroad?
I think the holidays are especially hard for expats because so many peoples’ traditions can’t be what they’ve always been in a new country. I know I just wish I could go home for Thanksgiving but if I did, I’d be home until after Christmas and that’s too long.
Other than that, the #1 thing I miss is pumpkin everything! Things I would love: pumpkin coffee, pumpkin coffee creamer, pumpkin pie, pumpkin hand soap, pumpkin candles, pumpkin muffins, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice….you name it, if it’s pumpkin I love it and thus miss it here in Scotland.
Jessica Young – www.youngrubbish.com
Hi Jessica, your site highlights the difficulties of being a young couple living away from home and in a different country – what are the biggest challenges you face, especially at Thanks Giving?
It’s tricky when you are a young couple living abroad. We live in a tiny studio flat— no sofa and an oven that wouldn’t even be able to fit a turkey. Sometimes Jon (my husband) and I summon visions of Thanksgivings past with all the smells, and food and family with football playing in the background and nieces and nephews all over the place. It is hard to put that into one package. But just thinking about it makes me a bit homesick.
If I could pick something package-size that I miss most from the states, it would definitely be goldfish crackers and peanut butter m+ms (I ate my weight in those things while home for the summer). Golly, why don’t they sell those things here? They are a little bit of heaven on earth and I guarantee you basically every American expat in the UK would be thrilled to get those in the mail.
Diane – www.ouiinfrance.com
Morning Diane, living in France as an American must be interesting, do you struggle to find treats from home among the incredible French cuisine?
As an American living in France, I’m very fortunate to have a wide selection of delicious foods at my fingertips, but around the holidays it’s difficult to see what friends and family are doing back home. When I start seeing all the Thanksgiving-themed products on blogs in the USA, I get homesick for the “normal” stuff I grew up with. My favourites are cans of pumpkin for baking. In France, pumpkins are vegetables and pumpkin spiced desserts aren’t a thing here; pumpkin pie spice, PAM cooking spray, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in holiday shapes and other silly things that are easy to find back in the USA but just don’t exist in France.
And one place I always miss is Starbucks — especially around this time of year because their holiday flavours are delicious! There are Starbucks stores in France but just a handful and only in bigger cities. Definitely not everywhere like in the US! Starbucks is a reminder of home for me and a comfort and sometimes you just want to feel close to home.
Hi Sonia, is it Texas themed BBQ’s and Ranch dressing you miss the most?
I’ve been living in Italy for almost 7 years and during this time I’ve had several odd requests from “home”. I’m originally from Texas so I have requested a lot of spices to prepare Mexican food. Items that are “Texan” also high on my list such as Dr. Pepper!
Holidays abroad are always exciting, but ingredients that we can find here in Italy are sometimes just slightly different, so I’m always asking for baking essentials such as baking powder, vanilla extract and brown sugar!
Christy – www.americangirlinchelsea.com
Hello Christy, an American girl in Chelsea – what’s the top item, thing or piece of food you miss the most?
Goldifsh, a delicious little guilty pleasure that I always share with my kids, Velveta Shells and Cheese: No other mac and cheese is like it, it’s my daughter’s favourite. Betty Crocker cake mixes. I am a horrible baker and she makes it so simple! The sunshine, obviously because London is raining 99.9% of the time.
Do you have some recommendations for our expats living abroad? Know of any secret shops to pick-up some US essentials? Let us know in the comment section below.