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My friends, who live all over Europe, frequently comment about how optimistic Americans are. We’re friendly. We smile and wave at strangers and wish them a good day.

It requires hard work, but you can move up the social class ladder. Most jobs will work around your school schedule because everyone understands that bettering yourself through education makes society better. Several friends received a second chance at education when they moved to America. Education is free in many European countries, but there are tight restrictions. If you drop out, it’s very difficult to get back in.

Our quality of life, even for the poor, is high. We are wealthy compared to billions of other people. Nearly everyone has luxury items like a TV, computer, phone. Our kitchens are stocked with a variety of foodstuffs and we have more clothes and shoes than we really need. We still feel poor compared to our neighbors. But we are rich.

We have what kings 125 years ago didn’t. Lights to see in the dark. Heat to warm us on a cold, winter night. Clean water is but a faucet twist away. We have vehicles that get us places quickly, whether it be a car, bus or plane.

I have never known true hunger. Our food is varied and readily available. When you visit the grocery store, bananas are there, despite the fact they aren’t even grown on this continent.

Five Guys burgers.

We have hot water. In Tanzania, my friend’s family had hot water, but not all her relatives did. In Tanga, north of Dar es Salaam, hot water was boiled on the stove outside the house, then poured into a bucket for me to use. The shower only had cold water.

Not everyone has access to a flush toilet. We don’t even think about it.

Despite fearmongering, America is a safe place to live. violent crimes including murders fell 4.4 percent in 2013 to their lowest number since the 1970s, continuing a decades long downturn.

We can criticize almost anything, including politicians and religions and not fear execution as a reprisal. Many countries have severe restrictions on free speech and the punishments can include whipping, long jail terms or even death.

Sorry Wisconsin,
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New York cheddar is better.

Europeans sometimes think Americans are xenophobic because the majority don’t have a passport, but they don’t often know we don’t need to leave our country to see something different. We have major cities of renown. We have the Redwood Forest, the Outer Banks, Niagara Falls, the Florida Keys, the Great Lakes, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and the Sonora Desert. And those are just the major sites. We have four major mountain ranges, The Appalachians, Rockies, Cascades and Sierra Nevadas. National Parks abound, from Yellowstone to Acadia to Yosemite.

We have many ecosystems to explore. Our country is filled with a diversity of flora and fauna. Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt getting the ball rolling, we have preserved, conserved and protected the natural beauty of our country through the national and state park systems.

If I don’t know something, I can learn it.

We rarely have power outages. Someone in a big truck takes away my garbage every week.

Americans are friendly and approachable. We’ll talk to strangers, usually about the weather, sports or polite, small talk.

As a woman, I can leave my house whenever I want, wearing whatever I want. In some states, I could go topless. I can read what I want. It’s illegal for my parents to marry me off before I’m a teenager. I chose the person I wanted to marry. I have access to many forms of birth control. I went to college and I have a job. I have a right to an attorney should I ever need one.

I don’t fear for my life on a daily basis. There are unsafe places everywhere. Bad neighborhoods, cities, cops, but I don’t have to dodge snipers on my way to the grocery store. I have no fear of genocide or being murdered while walking down the street. I don’t worry that a group of people will come into our schools and steal the children for an army or to be sold into slavery.

I’ve never experienced war. I will mostly likely never see one on American soil. There are millions of people who face this reality every single day. We are geographically protected. Our Canadian neighbors are our friends. We have problems to the South,
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but Mexico is generally considered our ally. We are separated on both sides by massive oceans.