Thursday, July 24, 2014

America Observations

In June, I spent two weeks in the USA for my semi annual detox from China. And while it was wonderful to see family, friends, and eat foods I had been missing (Auntie Anne's Pretzels, I'm talking to you), I was shocked by some of the things I encountered. Perhaps it was reverse culture shock or just my poor memory but I found myself noticing odd things wherever I went. What surprised me the most? Here are five things about America that blew my mind.

1. There are a lot of dead animals

Seriously, what is going on with all the roadkill? I've seen exactly one animal that was hit by a car in the 2.5 years I've been in China. But America, holy hell. I saw three dead deer on the five minute drive to my dentist. And don't even get me started on the amount of roadkill I passed on the 3 hours drive from NY to PA.

(not a dead animal, I saved him from the middle of the road)

2. Being carded is a real thing

I ordered a beer in a restaurant and was shocked, SHOCKED, when the waitress asked to see my license. Officially, the drinking age in China is 18, but I think that's more of a suggestion than a law. I've never seen anyone carded here or anywhere else in Asia. So being asked to provide my license at the age of 30 gave me a pretty good chuckle.


3. English is everywhere

I know, I sound like an idiot for this one, but hear me out. On an average day in Shanghai, I see thousands of signs and hear hundreds of conversations that I simply cannot understand. I've learned to tune out most of it or treat it as background noise. But in America? I can understand everything! I found myself listening to all the conversations around me, simply because I could (Which also led me to interrupt a few random people's conversations. I'm pretty sure that makes me creepy). But at times the massive amount of information coming my way was just too much to process. Plus I really didn't want to hear all about the bowels of two men behind me in line. Sometimes it's nice not to know what people are talking about.

4. Tipping

I have no idea how to do this anymore. How much am I supposed to give? And to who? I gave exact change to a waiter one day and he just stood next to the table waiting for me. After a swift kick from my husband, I shoved some money at him while mumbling something about being out of practice. After that, I tipped everyone. I think the Target cashier was confused when I told her to keep the change.

5. Grocery stores are overwhelming

I walked into Wegmans (do you all know about Wegmans? You haven't lived until you've grocery shopped at Wegmans) and fully freaked out over food choices. I even hugged the cheese display before Matthew reminded me that people were watching. There are 23 million people in Shanghai and we have no where near this amount of variety in our grocery stores. I counted over 100 different brands of cereal at Wegmans before I got tired of counting. How is that even possible? And why? I can find 5 maybe 6 different brands in Shanghai if I'm lucky.

American grocery store cheese sections are overwhelming #expatlife

Those are the things that surprised me the most while visiting the States this year. Anyone else find themselves experiencing reversed culture shock when they returned to their home country? Or perhaps try to hug a cheese display? No, only me? Fine then.

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