Wednesday, August 2, 2017

They Didn't Tell Me About This

Along The York River 

I know it's been ages since I last updated on life. The truth is, life got a little scary. Living in a foreign country, while beautiful and exotic and all those other wonderful adjectives, was tough sometimes. I realized that even though I wanted to share every detail of our travel with you, it simply wasn't the safest thing for us. So, in the future, this blog may mutate into some other form, but this is a post I've been formulating since we touched down back in the US this summer.

Reverse culture shock is a thing, y'all. And judging by how blindsided by it some of my friends and myself have all been, it's a big, ugly secret that no one wants to share. I myself have suffered in silence thinking that I must be the only one to experience it, but after realizing others are struggling too, I thought I'd give it a voice.

Keeping Me Sane (maybe?!)
Volume---There are distinct differences between living abroad and living in the US. Have you ever been to Vegas? The United States as a whole is the Las Vegas of the world: shiny, flashy, and loud. Can we please just all agree to take it down a notch? We went out to dinner the other night (another big difference) and I swore there was a group doing a performance piece in the restaurant, but it turned out to just be an incredibly loud talker. Okay, so granted most places you go in Europe you don't understand the language, so it doesn't seem so 'in your face', but please, people...inside voices!

Oversharing---On that note, why do we have to talk about things that weren't intended for the world to hear? I don't need to know about your foot fungus, your recent gynecological exam, or why so-and-so is the absolute worst friend while we stand in line at Target. Honestly, I don't care.

Choices---Is it necessary to have 35 choices of toothpaste? or Toilet Paper? or anything, really? I understand variety is the spice of life, but if I have to spend half of my life choosing a feminine product, am I really living? (True story, they sell them in decorative paint buckets now...why??)

Food---Holy cow, guys. It took a full 3 weeks for my body to adjust to eating here. Too much food, too greasy, too something, I don't know. All I know is dinner left me feeling generally unwell for a really long time. We've been back for over a month and I still can't say for certain I've adjusted fully. Also, we should probably go ahead and take "Never ending" off of menus if we want to continue to be shocked by obesity rates. Just saying....

Southern Hospitality---One of the things I missed most when we moved to Germany, and now one of the things I've come to dislike about being back. Strangers speaking to you on the streets, in the elevator, in stores, EVERYWHERE. "Hello. Yes I'm fine. Just Looking. No, I'm great, no help needed. Nope, I just walked 2 steps, still fine. Did anyone help me?? Uh yeah, the string of people lining the aisles like this is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade." For all the flack Germans get about being 'rude', I definitely learned to appreciate the chit-chat-free interactions.

Honestly, being away has been like being on a different planet for four years. Even though I returned home, I still feel like a complete stranger. New stores have popped up, old stores have come down, time marches on. When we go into a new place and don't know how something works, the looks we get make me feel dumb. When someone asks our address or phone number and we have to explain that we live in a hotel or pull out our phone to check because we don't know, it's sort of embarrassing (but not really).

All in all, I'm glad to be home, I guess I'm just taking a little while to readjust. I maybe put the expectation on myself that it was going to be easier than this, and when it wasn't, I began to think there was something wrong. I know there are military families that do this every few years or less, and you all have my respect. This was a first for us, and probably a last.

If you've done this move, what would you add to this list?