A few weeks ago I did a post with a summer weather comparison between Texas and England. I received some feedback that though it was humorous, I was comparing apples and oranges. I replied with an 'exactly' - it's more like comparing Krispy Kreme donuts and broccoli - there are very few similarities except that they both speak a form of English. At the beginning of June, I'm visiting friends for a week in Texas. I go back almost once a year to the States for various reasons and every time I have to mentally prepare myself for reverse culture shock.
So what is reverse culture shock? Culture shock is the difficulty adjusting to a culture that differs markedly from your own. Flip that definition over and it's the difficulty adjusting to the culture you originally came from. When I go back to the States, especially the grand 'everything is bigger' state of Texas, I am never emotionally prepared.
For example, last summer on my second day, super groggy from jet-lag, I asked for a cup of coffee at an event.
Me: Can I get a cup of coffee?
Nice Southern Lady: Why sure honey, let me take you back to our coffee corner.
(I follow her back to the freshly brewed coffee thinking this woman is sooo nice. I forgot how nice everyone is in Texas).
Nice Southern Lady: Do you take creamer?
Me: In England, we normally just have milk.
Nice Southern Lady: Milk? We only have creamer, but I'm sure there will be something here you like.
Me: Creamer is fine. Thanks.
(She opens the small fridge and then pulls out TWELVE bottles/cartons of creamer).
Nice Southern Lady: So here's your choices:
White Chocolate Caramel Latte
Cinnamon Vanilla Creme
Southern Butter Pecan
Almond Joy Candy
Warm Cinnamon Sugar Cookie
Pumpkin Pie Spice
(By now I'm getting a little faint, feeling my brain sloshing from the smell overload).
White Chocolate Macadamia
Sugar Free Hazelnut
White Chocolate Raspberry
and just plain Amaretto.
(and who wants 'plain' anything after that list??)
Me: *pausing for a moment, speechless* Erm - thanks.
Nice Southern Lady: Any of those work for you? I'm sure we have more back in the kitchen?
Me: NO!! I mean, no. *smile* Something here will work.
(I try to look like this is no big deal, though I'm breaking into a sweat from so many choices.)
Me: You don't worry about me. *big smile* Go on back, I can fend for myself.
Nice Southern Lady: You sure honey? I really can go get more from the kitchen if this won't do. I think we have some sugar-free, fat-free options?
Me: I'm great. *another big smile*
Stay tuned over the next few weeks on further confessions about reverse culture shock.
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