1. I stopped cooking at home.
I like to treat myself to a restaurant meal whenever possible, but the truth is we Mexicans enjoy homemade food way better. Especially if it has that family seasoning only our moms and grandmas can get. The sad thing about living in the States is that eating homemade is more like a luxury. As my life became more “dynamic” I stopped making the effort to cook at home and started grabbing a to-go lunch everyday from the hundreds of fast-food options. Going grocery shopping didn’t really help either — most of what they sell is precooked or microwave ready anyway.
2. I stopped dressing properly every time I went out.
I don’t know what the thing is with Americans not giving a hell about what people think of their looks, but I love it! The USA is the place where, almost always, whatever you are wearing right now is perfectly appropriate for whatever you have to do next. And that’s how I ended up wearing sweatpants to grocery stores, flip-flops to night clubs, pajamas to friends’ apartments, and my Disney cast-member uniform to restaurants.
3. I stopped buying groceries down the street.
There are few things as Mexican as la tiendita de la esquina. Even nowadays, when a lot of these singular places have been replaced by minimarts, there’s always the quick and easy option of getting whatever you need just by walking a few steps from home.
Americans don’t have these kinds of benefits because in the USA, outdoor spaces seem to be huge! If you run out of milk for your cereal, you’re probably going to have to walk or drive miles to get it. Eventually I learned that my weekly trip to Wal-Mart was the only chance to get everything I needed.
4. I stopped having one-course meals.
When Mexicans want tacos, they eat tacos. When they want enchiladas, they eat enchiladas. There’s no need to supplement those dishes with appetizers or dessert.
After I moved to the States, I started to change my orders in restaurants. I surprised myself asking for a salad to start, a steak as an entree, and a slice of cheesecake for dessert. I now believe American menus are strategically designed to make you feel as if you need to enjoy everything at the same time.
5. I stopped driving as if every traffic law was just a suggestion.
Mexico is one of the countries where not being an entirely responsible driver is not going to backfire with any consequences. I used to think that it’s not so bad running a red light if I had previously made sure no one was coming the other way, or parking in a prohibited place if it was only for five minutes, or changing lanes without turning my blinker on. But nobody seems to do this stuff in the States, and it actually makes driving a lot more enjoyable and stress-free.
6. I stopped lingering at restaurants after I had finished my meal.
This is not going to shock you: For Mexicans, food is a BIG deal. But getting together for lunch or dinner is much more about sharing and dedicating time to the people you’re with. All of my life, it’s been completely normal for me to take it easy at a restaurant. I’m used to a lot of chatting, gossiping, and laughing before, during, and after my meal. Not a single Mexican server would ever feel upset about it.
The dining out experience in the States is completely different. Americans are kings and queens of rushed lives. Especially servers, who want you to leave as soon as possible, so they can receive another guest and get another tip. They’re always ready for you the second you take your seat. They bring your meal in a matter of minutes, and grab your check as soon as you finish. Before you notice it, you’ll be out of the place 40 minutes later.
7. I became a serious online shopper.
Online shopping in Mexico is not very common, and therefore, there’s a lot of ignorance surrounding it. I used to think it was risky to share my personal or credit-card information on websites, but living in America has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of online shopping. It’s definitely the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to shop.
8. I stopped thinking 1 dollar is worth 10 Mexican pesos.
The dollar’s worth has changed a lot in the past several years. Not so long ago, one dollar was equal to 10 Mexican pesos, which was convenient and easy to translate. So we Mexicans have stuck to it, even though the value has kept changing. As a result, I’ve experienced some seriously discouraging currency misunderstandings. If something costs five dollars, I assume it’s 50 pesos. But in reality, it might actually be 65 MXN, plus taxes. Auch!