culture shock

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Musings on Re-entry Culture Shock & My First Week back in the US

Again…I know this is late (I returned to the US back in June), but I think it’s still worth sharing. 🙂
Here are some of my somewhat funny observations/experiences during my first week back in the US after four years in the Philippines.

Traveling in the Car #1: It’s so quiet – the engine, the turn signal, everything.

Traveling in the Car #2: It feels like you’re flying – it’s so smooth! (this is a combination of the car & the road conditions)

Traveling in the Car #3: You have to wear your seat belt – always – even if you’re crammed in the back seat with 2 other people.

Toilet Paper: I CAN flush it (as opposed to throwing it in the trash can) & I don’t need to provide my own when I’m out (mall, restaurant, etc.).

Potable Faucet Water: I start brushing my teeth, pause for a few seconds – Oh no! Is this water ok to use to brush my teeth with?   …   Yes, ok. – continue…

Using Words (as opposed to nonverbal communication): The day I returned my brother asked me a question and I responded with a yes. However, he was still looking at me, waiting for an answer. I realized that I had answered in the Filipino way (not with words). In the Philippines one way to say yes is to raise your eyebrows. I quickly explained that I said yes in that way; he understood (and is already used to me doing this).

Weather: I woke up my third morning back realizing that you need to check the weather here because it’s actually different each day. Now, this isn’t to say that things are always the same in the Philippines, but they are pretty much always hot. You don’t really need to question whether it’s ok to wear shorts or not.

Cold Water in the Faucet…always: I get goose bumps when I wash my hands! I’m used to lukewarm, room temperature water from the faucet.

A few weeks later…

Fast Food: I was out with friends from Indonesia about the 3rd week of June – When we sat down at Chick-fil-a we were discussing how we don’t throw our own trash away when at a fast food place in Indonesia or in the Philippines. Despite having just discussed it, I completely forgot when we finished eating. If it hadn’t been for my friend starting to clean up our trash I would have walked out and left it all on the table. Oops! 🙂

Now four months later…

While I’ve adjusted to being back in the US in some ways…it’s still very different. I still say yes with my eyebrows, point with my lips (sometimes), and will probably forever be adjusting to the colder weather. However, I am thankful for the time to visit with family, friends, and ministry partners here – even if I don’t quite fit in the US like I did four years ago.