Thursday, July 19, 2012

American culture shock

The overwhelming feeling that I've had in my first three days here in the US is I don't belong. I feel like everywhere I go I am unknowingly flouting social norms and creating awkwardness. At the grocery store, I'm the one ooh-ing and ah-ing at the yogurt selection. When it comes to produce, I stand there in a daze, looking for the scale where you ask the dude to weigh your fruits and vegetables before you take them to the check-out. My American ATM card is expired so I can't get cash except then a bank teller reminded me that, well, you can just withdraw cash from your own account in person. Ooooohhhh yeaaaaaahhhh. Now I remember.

Remember Left Turn Yields on Green? Or how the walk signal guy is white? The sidewalks are made from slabs of gray concrete instead of red bricks with black-and-white striped curbs. The speedometer is in mph, not kph, which threw me for a loop at first. There are lots of bumper stickers here, and many of them disparage Obama (I'm in Idaho, ok?). There is also a lot of English around here, on billboards and signs and businesses. There's a lot of English in the UAE, too, but here I am finding myself fascinated with all the ads and slogans and other English-language bids for my attention.

And the food. THE FOOD. It's so cheap it's practically free! I bought a container of parmesan cheese for $2.50 and it made my heart cry. I ate some bacon yesterday and it was so. good. The weather is lovely and even though I hear people talking about how hot it is, it isn't hot at all, not to me.

I'm used to hearing all kinds of different languages when I'm out and about in the UAE. The other day when I was walking into the grocery store in Idaho Falls, I overheard some language I wasn't familiar with. I stepped a little closer to hear better so I could figure out what it was...and it turns out it was just a teenage girl talking really fast, in English.

Did you know that in America, white people work in jobs that do not require the presence of a desk in front of them? Weird. In fact, there are white people everywhere here. And they all speak English with an American accent! And they dress very differently from what I'm used to seeing in the UAE. I forget: are Utah/Idaho women very fashion-forward or fashion-backward? Or just an island unto themselves?

American public libraries are AMAZING. I can't believe there is this place where you can pick out any books and DVDs you want and just take them home for a while, for free. I took the girls to Storytime, too. Opportunities like that are something that I really miss about the US.

Jet lag is fading and I'm feeling more like myself. I grew up in the US, after all, and my memories of how to do things here are slowly coming back.

4 comments:

  1. Loved this! I had to laugh about the bank teller incident...and your stepping closer to figure out that language you didn't understand at first. :)

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  2. Haha! Those are definitely all things I would never think about! :)

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  3. HA! What color is the walk signal guy in the UAE?

    And my experience is that Utah/Idaho women are a category of their own, fashion-wise. Maybe slightly fashion-forward, but then again, I'm in the Midwest, where fashion is not exactly a high priority for most.

    Bacon is amazing. Is it crazy expensive out in Idaho? I have trouble finding bacon for under $3/lb out here.

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  4. This is one of your most fascinating posts YET. Keep 'em coming! Also? I think Teenage Girl From Idaho needs to be a dialect of its own, don't you?

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I had to disallow anonymous comments because of all the spam I was getting. Sorry!

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