Amazon.com: Huge selection of anything I can possibly want, priced fairly with usually free shipping, and delivered right to my door. This is what I missed most about America.
Netflix: I get my choice of just about every movie ever made in the history of the world, also at a fair price. When I’m abroad I hit up Isohunt to download movies, but they are rarely enough seeds for the faggy foreign movies that I enjoy (I’ve seen just about everything from Pedro Almodovar).
Supermarkets: Huge warehouses stocked with a million items that allow me to make any type of recipe imaginable. In South America, it can be hard to find basic foods like broccoli, ginger, lemons, limes, salsa, spices, barbecue sauce, parmesan cheese, turkey or chicken breast, spinach, and decent bread. Standing in the produce section of an American supermarket now feels like I’m on a movie set. Fresh food here is expensive (cheeses, produce, meats), but all that processed garbage is very fairly priced.
Liquor Selection: Go to any bar and there are fifteen types of vodka, four types of bourbon, and six beers on tap. American night spots have great selection for whatever mood you happen to be in. In Brazil you’re lucky if a bar has a palpable whisky. And besides for a couple exceptions, all South American beers taste exactly the same, along the lines of Budweiser.
Herbs/Remedies: Is your stomach growling and in need of some soothing peppermint? Need a specific vitamin supplement? Probiotics? Coenzyme Q10? Fish oil? Resveratol? These things can be hard to find and expensive in South America, but in the U.S. all you have to do is go to GNC or a site like iHerb.
Target/Walmart: One stop shopping for all your hygiene, home, clothing, and electronic needs, all at rock bottom prices. To be fair, there are Walmart-like stores in every South American country, but they tend to be out in the suburbs.
Customer Service: The customer is always right in the United States. Without having to raise your voice, businesses will do a decent job making sure your needs are met. In South America they just want your money and if there is a problem then too bad because they simply don’t give a shit whether you are satisfied or not with their product. Even the staff is disrespectful: they will stop talking to you midway to look at a text message they’ve just received. American cable companies like Comcast look top-notch compared to the ones in South America (e.g. NET).
One afternoon in Rio may have had me going to two separate grocery stores, the pharmacy to buy shampoo, the “informatics” store in the mall to buy a USB stick, and then a hardware store to buy a plug extension. Three hours of my life, gone, when in the U.S. it would’ve taken an hour at most.
I’m sure you see the pattern. Most of the things I missed were based on our consumer culture: choice, convenience, and selection. Other than that, America has only one other benefit over foreign countries: health care.
Just kidding. There are no other benefits.