We are back in our homeland of the USA, and man does it feel weird.
Not only that, but it feels weird that it feels weird.
There is a curious blend of two things in these shocks:
- Stark familiarity, as we connect with those things we had nostalgia pangs about
- Alienation from some norms, as we reflect on things we accepted as standard and now say “huh?”
While they are fresh, here are some things that are really standing out as we recover from our flight back from Vietnam and almost a year living in SE Asia…
- Grass. The simple phenomenon of nature’s shag carpeting is something I totally took for granted. It looks lush and inviting, it feels glorious, and it grows everywhere in the Northeast of America.
- Suburbia. Yards? Neighbors without walls between? Wild.
- “Normal” bathrooms. You start to appreciate the fact that people grow up with different bathroom configurations and a variety of approaches. You laugh the first time you see a “no standing on the toilet seat” sign, and then you appreciate why it needs to be said when some people have been taking a different approach their whole lives. We’ve gotten use to a rich diversity of restroom experiences, and it’s weird to have no more surprises (or need to carry back-up TP, just in case).
- Intersections. Good gazoongas, do I have a bit of PTSD from the free-for-all drivin’ in Vietnam. Now I’m lookin’ back and forth four times at every intersection. Even while we have a green light. Even when I’m just the passenger. Heh!
- Flushing Toilet Paper. The pipes and sewage system in Thailand and Vietnam are not able to accommodate all the TP being flushed by Westerners; so you toss it in the rubbish.
- Grocery Stores. It’s so easy to have everything in one place; in Vietnam we got used to going to the local market for fresh veggies and meat and corner stores for non-perishables.
I’m keeping an eye out and an ear out for more reflections as I get caught up on errands. Each shock kinda feels like when you’re hangin’ out in a crowd that’s speaking foreign languages, and then the voice of someone nearby stands out starkly because they are speaking your own familiar language. As I notice more of these things, I’ll collect ’em and add ’em.
Have You Had Moments Of Reverse Culture Shock?
Curious to hear some observations from other people, too!