Dear America,

We need to talk.

Next week is six months since I moved here, and if I’m being completely honest, it hasn’t gotten any easier. I’d be lying if I said I loved it here. At best, it’s been meh.

I think you know where this is headed, so I’ll give you a moment to grab a pint of ice cream and some tissues. Ready? Okay…

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It’s not me, it’s you. I really think you need to take a good, long look at yourself.

For too long, people have been telling you you’re amazing, the greatest, the “promised land”… and now your ego is completely out of control.

Not to go all Will McEvoy on you (The Newsroom, people!), but when people tell me America is the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** they’re talking about!

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Sure, there are some good things. You’d be hard-pressed to find a L’Oreal mascara for $7 in Australia, and you guys do have Disneyland – I’ll give you that. But here is my advice if you’re planning on moving here – don’t. Basically, you should fly in, buy your mascara, go to Disneyland, and then piss off back to wherever you came from. Trust me, it’s better that way…

Think of America as the really hot one-night stand you once had. It was fun while it lasted, and you’ll always have the amazing memories, but that’s all it should ever be. If you enter into a relationship with them, pretty soon you’re going to discover they bite their toenails.

It hasn’t all been bad – I’ve had some really great times, too. But if I’m being honest, every day has been a bit of a struggle.

For one, I am poor here. Legitimately poor. That’s not just me being melodramatic either. Believe me when I say I am barely making ends meet. I did the math yesterday, and I discovered my salary has almost been halved since I moved here. People just earn less over here, it’s a simple fact. I’ve actually been told I’m on “good money” by comparison to most others. Most people you talk to are having to work two jobs just to get by! But financially, I feel like I’m running on a treadmill.

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Consider this: the minimum wage in California is $10.50 per hour compared with $16.88 in Australia. There are no penalty rates in the US, so it doesn’t matter if you work weekends or public holidays, you’re always paid the exact same shitty amount.

Listen up, Australia! I know you’ve been cutting penalty rates while I’ve been away (tsk, tsk), and let me tell you now – I’ve been to the other side and the grass is not greener. In fact, it’s kind of brown and dying.

Also, what is up with your holidays, America?! Two weeks annual leave a year and you can’t even take it in a block?! That’s it?! No wonder most Americans don’t even own a passport…

There is no middle class here in LA. People are either really rich or poor. I’m talking ridiculously rich! These people don’t just live in mansions, they live in castles. And then you’ve got the other extreme… I once saw a homeless guy sweeping the gutter in front of his tent.

But it’s not just a matter of money. People kind of suck in America… Now, before I go on, I’d like to offer up a disclaimer. I have actually met a lot of lovely, amazing people who have embraced me and welcomed me into their lives. I appreciate these people so, so much and will be forever thankful for them. Unfortunately I don’t get to see them often enough, because everyone is so busy just trying to survive in this crazy place.

Having said all that, I have also attracted an obsessive, somewhat manipulative stalker and a raging alcoholic in the time I’ve been here, so you know, there’s that…

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Also, most people aren’t genuinely warm and friendly in America. It just doesn’t seem to come naturally to them. Australians are so damn nice! That’s something I’ve only realised while living here.

I’ll be chatting with someone, feeling like we’re connecting, and then all of a sudden, they’ll slip me their business card. You know, just in case I’m ever looking for a life coach/DJ/motivational speaker/photographer/interpretive dancer/want to check out their YouTube channel… It’s really hard to make friends here. Trust me, I’ve tried – and I can generally befriend anyone. People love me!

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I went to San Diego. This man started talking to us and then offered to take our photo. We obliged, and then shortly afterwards, he asked us for a tip. Here’s a tip: don’t be such an asshole! My sister sheepishly slipped him a couple of dollars, but I was fuming. You could probably see the steam coming out of my ears for the next 15 minutes.

See, the thing is, I explained to my sister, people like that guy aren’t even the exception over here – they’re the norm. Almost everyone who does something nice for you expects something in return. I’ve experienced it over and over again.

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As a result, I’ve learned to rely on myself. I’ve had to harden myself to the world. I now question everyone and everything.

Anyone who knows me knows I am generally quite a cheerful, easygoing person. Well, congratulations, America – you’ve managed to take someone who was potentially the happiest person in the world, and you’ve turned her into a miserable bitch!

I’m stressed out 90 percent of the time. I have legitimately developed anxiety just from living here. I am lonely and, for the most part, I am alone.

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On the plus side, I’ve also become much tougher. I feel like if someone wanted to take me on or give me shit, I’d now tell them to get f***ed. But probably not in America, because, you know, guns…

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Also, what is up with your healthcare system?! How has this not been fixed yet?! I know someone who went to hospital recently for 90 minutes to get a few X-rays after he was hit by a car, and he got a bill for $5700!

And speaking of cars, people can’t drive for shit in LA. I’m reminded that I’m still in the Wild West every time I get onto a freeway. Except they’ve now replaced horses with cars… Rarely a day goes by when I don’t see an accident. The other day, I saw a seven-car pile up (I counted). Now that takes some serious skill and commitment. Seven cars! Wow. Someone give them all keys to the city – and then point out which pedal is the accelerator and which is the brake.

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And don’t even get me started on Trump…

So, at this stage, unless Steven Spielberg discovers me and asks me to write his next movie or something like that, I will be returning to Australia in November. Which is a shame, because I’m really going to miss Target in America…

Yours sincerely,

Demeter

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