Have I really been back in the States for over 3 weeks? My how time flies. Culture shock is to be expected when you leave your homeland and travel abroad; yet, culture shock also works in reverse. After spending a significant amount of time in a culture different than your own, you return and are shocked at how strange things seem; things that are oh-so-familiar just seem odd.
Here are a few of the thoughts that have crossed my mind in the last weeks of being home.
Wow. There are SO MANY white people here! And the words ‘so many’ are relative to other ethnicities because really there is hardly anyone here.
It is empty… the airports are empty, the streets are empty, the stores are empty.
Portland is SO quiet, peaceful, clean! The air smells so good! I’m so overwhelmed!
Shhh… you hear that? NOTHING, oh wait, there is a bird… silence is amazing.
Everyone is so friendly!
There are so many conversations to eavesdrop on… Everyone is speaking English! I can understand it all!
Where are all the Chinese characters?
Portland (which until 2011 was the biggest city I had ever lived in) is so SMALL & cute! Look at those quaint little buildings downtown that think they are skyscrapers… how adorable.
Clouds are so cool. I could spend hours staring at the clouds. They are all different types, shapes, sizes, colors… they are magnificent and beautiful. Some bring rain, some don’t… Some are wispy, white and whimsically float through the air. Some are big, billowing, beastly and loom over the valleys. In China, it was often cloudy… or just smoggy, but I realized I never really saw the clouds. In Shanghai, you get one type of cloud – the monotone, all encompassing, sheet of gray – with a hint of brown. There is no variation, no beauty, no personality in the clouds. But here… oh, clouds are mind bogglingly fascinating.
Can’t I just swipe my Shanghai subway card? (When looking for cash to pay for a public bus ride in Portland. Fact, a ride on the bus in Portland is about the same as the starting fare for a taxi in Shanghai.)
The freedom to drive and the open road – LOVE IT!
Wow, us Americans spend a LOT of time in the car.
People are fat.
Does everyone in America always wear that much make-up?
Holy crap this place is expensive! (When I find myself converting everything back to RMB in my mind.)
Seeing Asian babies and children makes me happy… like, an “I feel at home” sort of happy.
Was I really in China for over a year? Was that just a dream?
I hate small talk. Small talk after returning from Asia sucks.
“Oh wow, you were in CHINA? For HOW LONG?”
“Yup, 14 months.”
“Wow! How was CHINA?”
Seriously? How does one respond to that? We have 30 seconds for small talk and you want to know how China was? Here’s an idea… read my 96 blog posts. Then ask me a better question.
Bubble tea in Portland sucks. I want to go back.
You say “Chinese food” but I don’t think you mean Chinese food… at every Chinese restaurant I go by… I know they are only there to disappoint me, so I don’t bother going in.
You are 3-D? (My response to seeing my boyfriend after 4 months of video-chatting online and not seeing each other in person.)
I’m BORED… Unemployment is no fun.
I watched more TV in 3 days than I did in the past year.
Grocery stores – AWESOME. They are huge, they have so-so-sooo much selection. They are neat, they are organized, they have so many familiar things. It is sort of like heaven… but a grocery store.
Smile, say thank you. Cashiers at grocery stores and other places here don’t just glare at you or completely ignore you, so you can be nice back.
What? My ID? Why do you want to see my ID? Oh yea… we control who buys alcoholic beverages in this country.
Public restrooms – they have toilet paper, they have soap, many have paper towels, they don’t smell all that bad… and I even dare to sit on the seat occasionally. Seriously, a girl could get used to this!
AHHH, I’m gonna die! Oh wait, people STOP for pedestrians here. Random… I mean, I know I do have the right of way, but you actually stopped for me?!?
Don’t run into people, don’t run into people… I know they are in your way, but you are in America, you need to be nice. You can’t just bump people out of your way here. Be polite, Julia.
Darnit… we have to tip. The no tipping custom in China is an easy one to get used to.
Yes, I’m home. Home in a place that sometimes seems so foreign, but only because something truly foreign became such a home. It’s definitely an adventure, whether you are coming or going.