Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reverse Culture Shock

Every good expat has heard of the dreaded Reverse Culture Shock. That's where you go back to your home country and think, "This is weird! I don't get it! I feel like an idiot!" and other unpleasant things like that.

I came back to the States fully expecting that at some point we would have this. I've had it before - those moments where I was paralyzed in the bread/toothpaste/deodorant aisle incapable of making a decision because there were so many choices. The awkward times when I hand the clerk my credit card and then am informed that I can (and should) do it myself. I still forget that, and for the record, I don't like it.

This time I feel like all those potentially odd things that are different from Asia, to this point, don't strike me as anything but quite pleasant. I like that there are lots of choices. I like that driving doesn't feel like a test of my survival skills. I like that there is no one else on the streets in the morning when I exercise. I could get used to all these things.

But yesterday I hit my biggest moment of reverse culture shock. I went to IKEA.

I have never been to IKEA in America, only in Asia. So I was quite frankly weirded out by seeing prices in US dollars. It felt eerily empty. At no point did I feel like I was swimming against traffic. There wasn't a single Asian person anywhere. I kept thinking, "Look at this - it's all the same stuff. They brought it all from China." (Yes, I realize this is not true). Actually, it felt like I was still in China and just happened to go to IKEA on Foreigner Day.

Megan's cluing in to the reverse culture shock as well. In the bathroom the other day she said, "Mom, this toilet is really small. The toilets at Nonna and Babba's are really small too. Wait - maybe ALL the toilets in America are small compared to China!" and continued on in this vein for awhile, supposing that people would think she was weird because she's been using big toilets.

So we realize things are different, but so far we're generally of the opinion that they're good. I just don't think I'll go back to IKEA yet. That was weird.

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