I’m back in the US for just two weeks, and here are the top 10 things I find myself surprised by, ‘back home:’
- Driving on the right. I keep checking if I’m on the correct side of the road or not!
- This is something unique to cold places in the US: people wearing t-shirts in -5 degree Celsius weather. I saw a guy in a polo shirt in the Walmart parking lot, while I was wearing 4 layers of clothing. Later, I saw two different guys in hoodies. When it’s actually snowing on you, put on some clothes, people!
- (I hesitate to say this, lest I jinx it, but:) The cold not being that bad. After months in SE Asia, I expected to be frozen, but my same clothes that I’ve had since London – plus my aunt’s boots and my grandma’s gloves – are sufficient for me to feel quite warm.
- The food. Pretty much all of it makes my stomach hurt, because of all of the additives, vast quantities of mayo and oil, etc.
- Such good phone reception! I like VoIP, and I feel very lucky to be able to talk to people while on the other side of the world, but sometimes, calling my sister back every 5 minutes is a bit frustrating.
- My long-lasting jet lag. Even after several days, I keep falling asleep at 6 or 7 pm and waking up at 4 am. Oops.
- How strange it is for anyone to walk outside. I can tell you exactly how many people I’ve seen walking on the sidewalk since arriving (3, 1 of whom was a runner!), because everyone drives everywhere. Sadly, this isn’t just the weather.
- The sheer amount of mail people receive with forms and print-outs that say very little. The financial companies’ green efforts need to be extended to US aid agencies, for example.
- Small talk! Because English is often not the first language for people we meet abroad, small talk is rarer – not that I blame them at all. Here, I’ve discussed a famous actress while checking out at the Dollar Store and the habits of the elderly while talking to the AAA car repair guy.
- Hot showers (with no time limit) are amazing!
It will be interesting to see how much more is jarring when we return to live.