This may or may not be the first in a series of posts, but I wanted to keep a list for my own memory and to share a little what I encountered when returning to the US. I’ve put it into 3 categories: Things I’m glad to (re)discover about America, Things I’ll need to re-adjust to, and No country’s perfect. I’ll try to keep that final category to a minimum. I don’t want to focus on the negative, and while I’m sure I’ll have days in the next few months where I deal with reverse culture shock in huge doses, I think a lot of it will come back to me re-adjusting, not issues with things outside of me.
Things I’m glad to (re)discover:
- Blue skies with puffy white clouds in the day, stars at night, regularly
- Time with family, such as helping out around the house with my brother, going for a walk with my mother, and sitting at a cafe with my father
- The convenience of having a car waiting just for me a few meters from the front door of the house
- The variety of things available in the grocery store (this fills me with joy on every. single. visit.)
- The convenience of centralized air conditioning (conditionally)
- Being able to access my blog, other blogs, videos, and social networking without a VPN and at playable speeds
- Walking into a bookstore, being greeted by the clerk who knows me from past visits, and finding what I want on the shelf. (Probably also the large public library system, but I think I’ll avoid that till I find a job, kinda like eating your brussel sprouts before having some cheesecake.)
Things I’ll need to re-adjust to:
- Waxed apples. I didn’t mind before I got used to eating them unwaxed, but now I feel like “How can anyone ever choose to wax an apple?” Oh well, I may not enjoy my daily dose as much for a while, but I’m pretty sure I can get used to this… and maybe find a good source of fresh-off-the-tree each fall!
- The variety of things available in the grocery store. Ha, yes, this is on both lists. I think I need to make a rule for myself that I can only spend $5 on items not on my shopping list when I go into Kroger or I’ll come out with an overflowing basket and an empty bank account.
- Climate-controlled buildings that make me wish I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt in the summer.
- Working in the US. Well, looking for work first of all! But I know it’ll be different from the last few years. Also finding an apartment here, and working out somewhere/how, etc, etc.
- Daylight savings time. Even if I didn’t like 4am sunlight (weirdly, I do), the bright light outside at 8pm is making it hard for me to fight jet lag by going to bed early! I am going to have to re-learn how to do life in summer here, especially if I actually get a job that doesn’t have summers off. Now there’s a new thought!
No country’s perfect:
- Arrive in China as an English-speaker and you may be a bit confused by the Beijing airport, but it’s generally well labeled in English as well as Chinese and some people speak enough English to help you. Arrive in Singapore from anywhere and there are 4 different alphabets on the signs not only in the airport but all around the city. Arrive in a major US city’s international airport and you get yelled at in English if you can’t read the signs for which customs line to get in – some airports have Spanish and English on the signs, some just English, so far I haven’t noticed anything with a different alphabet at all. I actually talked to someone about this in Chicago, and she said some airlines supply a translator to assist people with finding the right customs line (eg an airline employee who speaks Japanese waits there when a flight from Tokyo arrives) but others don’t. I say, why doesn’t the airport deal with it intelligently? At least signs in one Romance language, Chinese, Arabic, and maybe a Cyrillic or Southeast Asian language, would that be too much to ask? It still leaves out some of the world, but it would cover a pretty large swath of its population. English may be a popular language, but there will always be people who chose something else to study or who simply didn’t learn it (eg Chinese grandparents, I’ve helped a few of those over the years…). Could we require all airport staff who work in that area to spend a month living overseas somewhere they don’t speak the language, perhaps?