June 2nd, 2010


Repatriation, day 3

People know to expect culture shock when they move abroad. They're generally less prepared to experience it when they move back home, because home is home, right? Only when you experience something that changes you, like living abroad (or going to college) then you can't just come back home and expect everything to be the same as it was.

So, like I documented my first impressions of Qatar when I moved there 6 years ago, I'm going to try to document some of my first impressions of the US now I'm back.

Observations from 3 days back in the States, in no particular order:

  • SO much foliage! And weeds! Plants grow BY THEMSELVES unless you actively STOP THEM!
  • It makes me so happy just to see pedestrians and joggers out and about. It somehow gives neighborhoods a much more "community" feel, which is odd since it's not like the pedestrians are communing with each other.
  • Way, WAY more people have tattoos than I remember.
  • Shopkeepers and other service-type people are friendly. Even the ones processing our driver's license renewal paperwork. I remember noticing, when I moved back to the US from London, that Americans seem to want friendly service while Britain seems to favor polite service. I'd say service in Qatar tends towards obsequious.
  • For some reason Americans don't know how to make a plane take off on time. Why is this?
  • It's weird sitting in a restaurant and understanding what the people at the next table are saying. You have to TRY not to eavesdrop.
  • Most of the shops I've gone in here have been playing music I liked. On the other hand, many of them have also had a TV blaring. TV is worse than I remember.
  • Fresh fruit, on the other hand, is way better than I remember.
  • I'm totally out of touch with American fashion. WHY are the 80s back?
  • SO MANY BOOKS in the bookstore!
  • Nobody's called me "ma'am" all week, let alone "ma'amsir." And I don't get the royal treatment for being pregnant, whereas in Doha being pregnant allows you to skip all lines everywhere.
  • I am for sure in the "honeymoon" stage of reentry. I know that American culture has lots of downsides that I will encounter soon. But I'm enjoying the honeymoon while it lasts. :-)