Living In America Used To Be A Dream of Mine— Not Anymore

The American Dream is over for me

Tom Stevenson


Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden on Unsplash

Growing up in the UK in the 90s, the influence of American culture was everywhere.

Whether it was The Simpsons, Friends or Britney Spears, American culture had a big impact on our lives. In some ways, it had a bigger impact than British culture. I remember watching WWE when I was younger, repeating the catchphrases and mimicking the accents of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Even though this was happening on the other side of the Atlantic, it still felt close to home. You felt like you understood America. That we weren't so different. The shared language reduced the barrier, but it felt like we were cousins. Similar in nature with different outlooks.

With the influence of American culture so strong in my childhood, I always imagined what it would be like to live in America. Would it be different from the UK? Would it be as good as I imagined?

My first taste of America was when I visited Florida in 1998. I was eight at the time, so the trip revolved around visiting DisneyWorld and Universal Studios. The first thing I noticed was how much bigger everything was in America.

The highways, the food, the cars. It was like someone had injected the UK with steroids and now everything was twice the size. The mantra, the bigger the better fit perfectly in America. I had an amazing time and thought at one point in the future I’d end up living here.

I mean what isn’t there to love? I’d seen a small part of the country but I got to visit amazing theme parks, see weird and wonderful wildlife and visit the place where space shuttles blasted into space. It was every eight year old’s dream!

I went back to America another two times in my childhood, each time to Florida. By the time of my last visit, something had begun to change. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but something felt different. The fascination with America began to wane.

The big McDonald’s portions that once seemed like a novelty now seemed excessive. Far from thinking America was similar to the UK, I realised there were many more differences than similarities. I still enjoyed visiting, but I became aware the UK and the US…