I came to the States on a bright, late December day in 2012 as a fresh, young, pale child with a mind full of curiosities, a heart full of youthful idealisms, and a belly full of horrible plane food. Boy do I remember that day! I remember it so fondly I can just freeze every moment in my head and tell exactly the way it happened. And “freeze” is the right word because the temperature that day was 30 degrees, and for a kid from Vietnam, 30 degrees was the end of the world. Anyway, during my 2-year stay in Baconland, I’ve learned a lot about the life, and the rich American culture as a whole, and it has certainly broadened my eyes to this great nation. Here is a look back, or rather an assessment on the American culture and life, through the perspective of an international student.

First of all, I just have to get this right off the bat: Minnesota winters suck. Nobody in their right mind would say Minnesota’s weather is among the best US has to offer, and nobody in their right mind would decide to live in Minnesota for its beautiful and exotic weather. Yet here I am. As I mentioned earlier, a winter day for a Vietnamese kid is a doomsday. The blistering, soul-sucking cold that just wants to bite your skin off every time you go on the street is just too much for me to handle. I always think if hell were to exist, the devil would own a pretty admirable tank tops collection down there. It turns out that hell does exist, and The Devil Wears Parka. Back in my own country, I fell in love with the beautiful snow, dropping with exquisite weightlessness inside the TV screen. I could just imagine myself there, playing and dancing under the delicate snow, with “Let It Go” playing in the background, possibly glowing by the glistening light in the corniest way possible. But now, after enduring 2 winters, the novelty has worn off. What used to be a Disney Princess movie scene is now a gloomy day, covered with fifty shades of dirt and ice all over the place. I believe I can represent every Minnesotan who has struggled to scrub out every inch of ice off their windshields, to stand up and say: “Screw you, Winter! We ain’t afraid of you! We’re just gonna hide by our fireplaces when you arrive.”

When people asked me how life in America felt like, I always answered, “It’s fine, just lots of changes.” It’s true from that first moment stepping out of the airport, I’ve been through a lot in order to adapt to the American way, and frankly, it wasn’t easy. There was the sudden shift in temperature that usually left me lying helplessly on a giant pile of used Kleenex (though taking a day off because of the snow felt surprisingly good.) Then there was the English language and its grammatical complication (took me a while to realize Google Translate wasn’t helping.) In Vietnam we could only grow lime on our soil, so when life gave me lemons in America, I didn’t know what the fuck to make out of it! When speaking of changes, there’s nothing more significant to me than the change in school culture. Back in the beginning, I was convinced that my experience in an American high school would be, well downright awful. I mean nobody saw any foreign dude singing with the cool kids in “High School Musical,” how could that be good news? Fortunately for me, American high school wasn’t as bad as I thought. I wouldn’t deny there were some bumps here and there at first. My English was trippy, it wasn’t easy to connect to other international teenagers, and most of the days left me breathless as I tried to explain to the native people how to pronounce my name (still do.) But in the end, everything worked out. I loved the school culture, the students and teachers were nice and friendly, and I got to receive one of those tiny little laptops for students to fondle with during classes. I guessed what I was trying to say was: When it came to changes, it would never be easy at first. There will always be a hill in front of you filled with obstacles and adversities that you have to face to get to the goal. But you only needed to climb that initial hill before you saw yourself on the top, with clear sky, bright horizon waiting ahead.

For those of you who are left wondering, I did learn how to make lemonade.

Before I move on to something else, I just gotta say something: American Television is the best! I feel like a God every time I hold that TV remote. Hundreds of channels, high quality videos, and the ability to playback, record, and re-watch any show at any time? Talk about xfinite power! I can always sense that vigorous force surging through every vein of my body once I press the “ON” button. It may have been electricity leaking from the remote, but never mind that. And I know some might say, “with great powers, comes great responsibility,” but I just don’t give a fuck whenever I wanna binge watch “How I Met Your Mother.” And that’s another thing: American TV always covers a wide variety of quality shows and programs that would make every unemployed guy at home feel like he’s the luckiest man in the world. From satirical comedy like Family Guy or South Park, late night talk show programs with Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert, to hilarious sitcoms like Friends, Modern Family and Emmy-winning series featuring Matthew McConaughey lecturing deep, profound stuff about life (yes, Matthew McConaughey), American TV is a collection of the finest television culture in the world.

And then there’s the Real Housewives.

Next up on what makes the United States badass, redonkulous, dope, or whatever phrase Buzzfeed is using: the Internet. Sure the Internet exists in every country around the world, but there’s only one place where it can make a random hottie from Target the next president of the free world: AMERICA. Yep! American Internet is a world of everlasting magic! It’s a whole new universe where the inhabitants are the rainbow-farting unicorns, where every sentence starts with a hashtag and ends with an emoji, and where the kingdom is ruled by a cat, whom despite the prosperousness of his country, still maintains to be very grumpy. And all of this is raised and cultivated on the vast and wealthy land that is Kim Kardashian’s ass. Break the Internet? Honey, you made it! I don’t want to exaggerate here, but like every other normal Americans, the Internet has been the most important part of my life. Everyday I wake up to my daily routine with drools smeared all over my face, hair looked worse than Guy Fieri’s at a rave (look it up.) The first things I do are log in to my Facebook, browse some news and post some messages. After all the brushing and shaving and trimming, I take a selfie with Instagram to check whether my face is fresh and clean. I then get on my Pinterest, pick up the latest fashion styles, and put on my clothes three days later when Amazon finally ships them to my house. At school I study and research using the best website for educational purposes: Yahoo Answers. And at the end of the day, I get home using Google Maps, and relax myself listening to Pandora’s. I gotta say those devil’s lullabies from the box really soothe my soul! Of course with all the public opinions about how the Internet is erasing basic human connections and how it is destroying America and its traditional values that it holds most dear, I just don’t know where they get these ideas. Things aren’t gonna be different years from now because of the Internet. Sure the conventional wives and husbands might eventually just call each other “bae.” Food might eventually be cooked for the purposes of amateur photographing and online posting instead of being eaten. The act of “Going out for a coffee” will eventually be sitting in the coffee shop, focusing on the smartphone the entire time, with the appearance of a brown, distinctively scented substance (so like sitting in a toilet.) But there’s certainly nothing to worry about, because America will do what it does best, and that is to rise up against doubts in the dark time, and just keep on binge-watching Netflix.

Yep, it’s happening!

Lastly, I love sports. I have loved sports long before I knew what sports were. There’s nothing better than spending a sizzling Sunday afternoon, resting comfortably on my couch, enjoying a soccer game with my buds, popping up some Doritos and crispy nuts, cracking up a cold, fresh case of… oh that’s right, I’m in America now. Understandably, I couldn’t wait to explore the vast and wonderful culture that is American sports. Unfortunately, up until now, it is not what I expected. Scrolling down the list of sport programs on TV, I just can never find anything watchable. Hockey is so fast; most of the time the players are just hitting air or each other. Baseball is so boring; the only moment the spectators look focused is when the ball flies to their seats. And when it comes down to America’s most beloved game, the American Football, I am having none of it. Growing up from Vietnam—where the normal world is—the first time I learned English I was taught to believe that “football” is between two teams kicking a ROUND ball with their feet. No hand stuff! I think the same thing is stated in the Bible. Besides, every time I watch a football game, there’s hardly any action in it. When people tune in for a sporting event, they expect an uninterrupted, energizing, and thrilling game. It’s hard to be energized when everyone just moves like a bunch of zombies between every play, and the players look fit to be a contestant in “The Biggest Loser.” Vince Wilfork, I don’t know how much stuff you put inside that belly, but it’s time to get it deflated! Furthermore, the only thing I find thrilling about football are those movie trailers broadcasted in the middle of a game, granted watching Christian Ponder play can provide the same experience. If there’s one thing I respect about American football, it’s the fan. It’s the football supporters who are always there tailgating at every game, who chant the victory tunes every time their teams win, and silently keep on supporting when their teams lose that makes every other sports fans obsolete. I believe there’s nobody more devoted, more passionate than football fans, because if a guy is willing to wear a block of cheese on his head to support for his team, he’s gotta be the best fan in the goddamn world!

Well, I guess that’s it. After spending five paragraphs talking smack to America, I feel like it’s time to stop writing and start packing, not that anyone would ask, but winter’s coming again. Regardless, I still strongly believe, with all the heart of an international student who honestly expected better, that the American culture is without a doubt the best in the world.