So I'm just back from my first trip to the United States, and have to say it's been interesting.
As a reader of newspapers and magazines like the Economist I knew that there was a lot of poverty in the US. But this still didn't prepare me for just how obvious it was in San Francisco. There wasn't even an attempt to hide how many homeless people there are, let alone deal with the problem. Coming from London, which has plenty of homeless people, I was still completely disgusted. But from reading the San Francisco Chronicle it looks like the Mayor is at least taking things seriously.
The Americans I met were more friendly, generous and polite than I had expected (and yes I had heard they were amazingly friendly). Sure as a British person it was very off putting to have cashiers smile at you, and to see people greet strangers on public transport. But it was quite warming nevertheless.
California is just as beautiful as I hoped. America in general impressed me. Other than the abject poverty I saw, the only other complaint I have is the severe lack of cute men. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places, but eye candy was seriously wanting.
And finally... I can't believe men really do wear cowboy hats without any sort of irony. SCARY! ;op