24.10.18

Re-entry

There is an actual term for the experience of re-entering your native culture after living abroad for some time: Reverse Culture Shock.  If you would like to observe this in action, find me in any given aisle of any given grocery store or super center.  Or maybe you'll catch me as I abandon my cart and flee for the car...not that I'm speaking from experience or anything (also, watch me as I try to get in on the wrong side of the car).  Every time I leave my house, I am reminded that I have not lived in the U.S. for a very long time.  Here are some observations from our first few weeks:


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People are nice.  Really nice.  One store worker was so helpful in helping me pick out a pair of children's shoes and I was totally tickled pink.   Clerks at the register ask me how I am.  And even more remarkably, they bag my groceries for me.  Coming from a culture where, for the most part, store workers will go out of their way to avoid you, I am soaking it aaaaaalllllll in.  

Convenience is king.  I've seen multiple people complaining publicly to businesses and workers about poor service.  Having to wait for their food too long or being told the wrong information, for example.  I know that I also place a high value on convenience and timeliness, but living in Malaysia has taught me to build waiting time into my day, as much as I roll my eyes sometimes.  But there have been times that I've been that stereotypically impatient American, and in an Asian culture, it's not pretty.  

Driving habits die hard.  Once I get over the urge to drive on the left, I really have to check my driving technique on the road.  Don't pull in front of people and expect them to be ok with slowing down for you.  A yellow light up ahead means "slow down", not "go faster!"  Stop for pedestrians.  Driving is so intense and aggressive in Malaysia that anything goes.  But this also means that the crazy drivers expect the other drivers to be crazy, so when they do something crazy, it's not a big deal.  Road rage is a definitely a thing here.  On a happier note: The parking spaces are huge!  

Then there's the children.  Not only have I not lived in the US for eight years, but I have also never been a parent here.  There are a lot of differences and a lot of things that I've never had to think about before, like teaching them not to crawl under the doors of the bathroom stalls or pour out all the salt and pepper out of the shakers at a table.  I also have had to explain to why my child dips everything in soy sauce and wants noodles for breakfast.  Just this week I attempted to explain the game of American football, which is not something I've ever had (or wanted to) think about before.  And then there are the complications that come with dressing kids for cold weather.  





All that being said, we are having a great time here! 

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