Living in a Material World

My love/hate relationship with commercialization in society…

cc license, newwavegurly

Christmas shopping is overdone and over commercialized in this country, but unfortunately it doesn’t stop with the holiday season. America is extremely materialistic and commercial year-round. This is something I had always known but didn’t start to understand until my first study abroad experience. I spend a semester in Australia last fall and one time on a trip to the grocery store I couldn’t find those little baby carrots. Definitely not a necessity and definitely not important item, but I still remember being slightly annoyed. I couldn’t have exactly what I wanted on my shopping list and that was a frustrating feeling for this spoiled American. I called my mom later to tell her about it and I’m pretty sure she laughed at me.

The point of this story is not that Australian grocery stores don’t stock baby carrots (in fact I’m pretty sure many do). My point is that after living abroad for four months I now have conflicted views on commercialization and convenience. I can’t deny that there are certain parts of American culture I adore. 24-hour Giant Eagle grocery stores would rank among the top of my list. I can’t help but favor certain brands. When I go shopping I like to have several choices. I know that if a shoe store doesn’t have my size they will often place and order with free shipping.

Unfortunately these same conveniences seem quite disgusting and shallow at times. I don’t like seeing two Starbucks across the street from each other, especially in place of a local café. While Australia was not completely free of this, it certainly wasn’t at the same level. It was common to see local restaurants and shops. Advertising wasn’t nearly as bad either. Some days it just felt like you had a little more room to breathe.

I’m considering moving abroad when I graduate making this topic even more relevant to my life now. I wonder if I would spend time enjoying a more laid back lifestyle or if I would miss certain conveniences back home. I would like to think I could live without excess on a daily basis, but I wonder how long it would take my mindset to change.

Do you ever feel like a material girl (or boy) living in a material world?


4 thoughts on “Living in a Material World

  1. Great post Hannah. I agree with you. I spent my sophomore year abroad in Maynooth, Ireland- and had similar feelings. I remember getting so annoyed when I first got there that banks, stores, and other offices would close for an hour or two during lunchtime. But as I adjusted to the culture- I started to enjoy it & would take the time to relax during the day. (now that I work in a bank- I really wished we would adopt that practice here in the states!!) Thanks for sharing & I’d love to hear more about your experiences in Australia!! (:

  2. Thanks Maura, the stores closing early is definitely a trend in OZ too. I was told by someone that it was because “the Australians like to enjoy their time off.” I feel like that is NOT something we practice in the States often enough.

  3. I just found your blog and am going back to flip through some of your old stuff, so sorry for repling to super old entries!!

    I can totally relate to this one. I did a WHV in NZ and within my first year, I had my parents send me 2 boxes of stuff, plus they brought me a bag of stuff when they came to visit. But for my 2nd year, I didn’t get or ask for anything until the end of it. Made me adapt and I just stopped missing stuff!

    But if you think Australia is missing stuff, spend time in NZ! I had been in NZ for 15 months before I finally made it to Aus and I went NUTS!! when I got there. (Doritos, I missed you so much!!)

    But since coming home, I have definitely been living more simply and don’t take anything for granted anymore.

    1. @Rebecca – No worries, I love thoughtful comments anytime!

      I would be pretty sad without Doritos. I guess you just start to find new things to love. I miss going out for Mexican food in Sydney all the time but I tell myself it’s a trade for really good Thai food everywhere. I hope that this move teaches me some lessons in simple living. I think it will be a good for me. Thanks for stopping by!

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