Monday, August 13

culture shock?

I don't think I'm actually going through culture shock ,but there are some funny experiences in coming back to the States. I think I'm getting more used to changing cultures and this trip back has been easy so far, probably mostly because I'm not doing much. I don't know anyone here except for my sister and brother-in-law, so all I've really been doing is reading and doing what they do.

There are still a few things to get used to in coming back. At first it was just having to think about having to put the toilet paper in the toilet instead of the trash can. (Chinese sewage generally can't handle toilet paper.) I think I'm used to that now, but I still can't get used to the air conditioner. They say it's the hottest August on record for Kentucky and I hear people talking about it everywhere, but it feels downright cold to me because I spend most of the day inside where rooms are frigid. My sister thinks I'm crazy. I might well be. Today we went into Lowe's and I was so happy to go back outside and feel the warm sun. At home, I'm usually under a blanket and at night I'm sleeping under a pretty heavy comforter even though the highs outside are hitting 100 during the day.

There's the normal shock of how much is available at grocery stores. That always gets me the first few times. I am doing better about responding this time though, I think. In the past I've been over-excited to buy all the stuff we can't get there. This time my reaction is more often "you mean people actually buy that?" Today I saw frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the frozen foods section at Super Wal-Mart. They were crustless, but come on! I think it might take more effort to defrost one of those than make your own.

Yesterday, my brother-in-law was about to throw away a Ziploc bag. I stopped him and told him I'd wash it. He said he never would have thought to do such a thing. I think I started doing that after I lived in Romania and watched the Americans I lived with there do it.

Last week my sister and brother-in-law had their last baby care class to go to. We ate dinner together at a mall and they left me there to wander while they went to their class. I was looking around at Bath and Body Works when I heard some people talking behind me. The first thought that went through my head was "They're speaking English! I wonder if I know them." Immediately after that, I realized that I was in America so I probably didn't know them.


RD said...

I remember those moments of hearing someone speaking English and thinking I must know them. And even now occasionally I'll see someone in front of me with a Colorado license plate and think it's cool that they're from Colorado too! (yes, I have momentary lapses of where we live). I also learned several helpful hints on being frugal (like washing out ziplocs) from the missionaries in Thailand. Enjoy your time in the States.

Irene said...

Welcome home! I'm glad you are enjoying some "quiet" time with little sis. Give her my congratulations! As for culture shock I've already been questioned about my roots b/c I told the cashier that I didn't need a "sack." Apparently, that's a dead give-away for a Southerner. In these here parts we have "BAGS."

the Huijsers said...

I love Lela!!! I totally understand the AC thing...We're in Denver now and I have to go out to the sun to thaw out a bit every day. I wanted to go to Louisville so bad because I have two friends there and if I had known you were there (maybe you told me??)
Miss you lots~

Elaine said...

I remember the TP thing too. Do you find yourself thinking about how you would say things in Chinese or Korean if you were back there? I did that (in Spanish) for a while after I got back.
My mom has been washing ziplock bags for as long as I can remember... I am not so good.

auntMarla said...

So glad you are back in the USA. Can't wait till you hit Texas. Yes, I sometimes rinse and reuse the not too yucky Ziplocs and am often the object of ridicule for it. We are a rather wasteful bunch aren't we? Kisses and hugs to you, your sis, bro-in-law, and soon to be born nephew. I am anxiously awaiting his birthday.

Kris said...

Welcome back! Interesting about the culture shock; I imagine that super-stores must be overwhelming.