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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. :-)


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 1st, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
"I'm totally out of touch with American fashion. WHY are the 80s back?"

It is true! It is a mystery!
Jun. 1st, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
Because you missed the year when it was the seventies.
Jun. 1st, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
No, I think that was the year that H&M opened in Doha, and I bought like every dress in sight. :-D

But maybe that was the year it was like 1968, I'm not sure. There was an awful lot of psychedelic paisley involved.
Jun. 2nd, 2010 05:17 am (UTC)
Me, I appreciated the clean and the endless amounts of personal space. Probably rather different from Doha vs India.
Jun. 6th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
I remember felt that way when returning to Doha from India. :-)
Jun. 2nd, 2010 05:22 am (UTC)
Here's a random question: Are you going to keep the livejournal name, now that you're back?
Jun. 6th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
I certainly need a new username overall, but I haven't come up with one yet.

I may just abandon this LJ with this name and start a new one for non-Qatar stuff, though... haven't decided.
Jun. 4th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
I still don't understand this "honeymoon stage" nonsense. Isn't that just a clever way of saying, "I appreciate various good aspects of returning to America.", and isn't that a non-clever way of saying something totally obvious?

On the flip side, it would definitely be remarkable if you /didn't/ find anything good about returning to America ... why don't we only bother talking about the "missing honeymoon stage" of culture shock? This is my proposal.

Jun. 4th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's just a clever/nonclever way of saying either of those. I think the point of describing a honeymoon stage of culture shock is that people frequently go through a period of ZOMG THIS IS ALL AMAZING, followed by a period of ZOMG THIS IS ALL AWFUL. So it's not just a way of saying that I find things to appreciate; it's a way of saying that I'm at the point where the good things all jump out at me, but I haven't yet had to deal with any of the bad things.

Not sure what you mean about the missing honemoon stage?
Jun. 22nd, 2010 10:39 am (UTC)
So ... we're told we all go through culture shock, but I've never, ever, thought "ZOMG THIS IS ALL AMAZING" or "ZOMG THIS ALL SUX0R" upon going or returning home. So either your definition of the Honeymoon Stage is wrong, or else lots of us don't go through culture shock. What do you think?

As for my proposal, it's simple. I took "Honeymoon Stage" to mean a period of time where you're relatively frequently noticing many good things (and not what you wrote above). And since that really does happen to nearly everyone, and tells us nothing about anything, it's incredibly boring. But if people were to return home and discover /nothing good about it/, that "Missing Honeymoon Stage" would be interesting.

Jun. 22nd, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Well, I think your ZOMG THIS IS ALL AMAZING is a straw man, but sure, not everyone goes through culture shock every time they move.

I see what you mean about missing honeymoon stage now. I think that was sorta what I was getting at. I've had lots of friends come back to the US expecting things to be dreamy and then it takes them by surprise when they're irritated by things. So I guess I threw the honeymoon stage thing in there at the end to say that I intended to follow up the post with another one about the downsides of coming home. So far, though, I'm still too damn happy. :-) My only complaints so far are that the bookstores close too early (9! It's not even dark out at 9!) and that my best friend is now in a really inconvenient time zone. ;-)
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
"ZOMG THIS IS ALL AMAZING" was your choice of words, not mine. ;)
Jun. 24th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
Lol. Well, it's still a straw man. ;-) Or, uh, since I said it, it's not a straw man, it's hyperbole. Yeah.
Jun. 24th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
In that case we ought to rename the "Honeymoon stage" to the "Nice buzz stage".
Jun. 24th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
hahaha. Yes.
Jun. 6th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
Honeymoon stage!
I think the honeymoon stage applies particularly to the states. When I went there with the IMPAQT group and I was walking down times square for the first time i was like GOD I WISH I COULD LIVE HERE! .. and now when I think about it, i realize that life can be much easier in Qatar.
Jun. 14th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
When I first came back to the U.S. from Doha, I felt that there were so many many things in my vision when I was driving... because I used to be see road, sands, and sky only when driving in Doha, and no trees, no big branch trees, no buildings, no stop signs, no traffic lights, no pedestrians along the road that I was driving... Yes, the pizza here is so delicious, the fruits are so fresh, even the foutain water on campus is sweeter. haha. Yes, Qatar book store made me thirsty for books. But here, too many books to read... everywhere, from the library to the book stores. And I was in Doha is much shorter than you were... Haijing
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )