Last week I wrote about the culture shock I experienced when I first moved to Poland back in 2013. And naturally, I need to write about the reverse culture shock when I moved back to the US earlier this year.
Taking the decision to move back to the US was extremely difficult for me because I loved living in Poland so much. Not only that, but I was able to meet incredible people, who I now call friends, I got to experience, for the most part, how wonderful different societies are, and of course, I got to travel a whole lot! So imagine a mid-20 year old woman moving back to her home country. Before, when I visited my family in Florida, it was like a vacation, so things don’t really bother you. But now that I have been living here for 6 months (time flies!!!!) there are things that definitely would be considered as reverse culture shocks. Here’s my list:
- Food Portions - One of the things you immediately notice when you move back to the US or if you visit the US for the first time is the food portions. It is quite incredible, even for me now. The portions are enormous, and it’s not only with food but with drinks! One of my students and I used to go out for lunch for our lesson every Friday. Right after lunch, we would get something sweet because, thankfully, we both appreciated such things in life! In the summer, our favorite spot to go to was this little ice cream shop named Bacio di Caffè in Sopot. There we would get a small ice cream cup. For me, the size of it was perfect. It wasn’t too small or too big - just perfect. Imagine, I moved back to Florida and the first thing I want to do is go to the beach and what do you do after beaching all day?! Get some ice cream, of course! And so, that is what I did. Got some ice cream. I ordered a small ice cream up. And to my amazement the portion of it seemed equivalent to an extra large portion back in Poland. One American cup would be equivalent to at least 3 Polish cups. And that’s certainly not exaggerating.
- Obsession with Guns - I am completely biased with this because I have never been a fan of guns. But the thought of gun ownership evaporates from your mind after living in Europe for so long. And that’s exactly what happened with me. Anytime I would go to a movie theater in Poland, I never thought about a crazy man coming in the theater and start shooting randomly at people. A situation like that was non-existent when I lived in Poland. Sadly, this is very real in the US. Even though I haven’t been living here that long, there has already been several mass shootings, that I’m sure many of your have heard. These situations are, I hate to say it, common here. What frustrates me the most is the lack of action within the government, leaders, and gun owners. After the Las Vegas mass shooting, the President of the US, Trump, instead of tightening gun laws, he instead loosened them. You can read more about it in this article.
- Vehicles - Another thing that shocks you as soon as you arrive is the size of cars! When I was living in Poland I was planning on purchasing a car. Then, I was in a serious relationship with someone and we had a dog together, Frankie. Frankie is an extremely friendly Rottweiler, which weighs a hefty 53 kilos. Thanks to Frankie, we were considering purchasing an SUV. Every summer, we would drive to Finland and we also planned on making lots of road trips all over Europe with Frankie in the backseat or trunk. In our hunt for a car, we were seriously considering purchasing the BMW X1, the smallest SUV BMW offers. To me, at that time, it seemed pretty enormous. That I was persuading my ex-boyfriend to perhaps go for something smaller. The reason for my persuasion was simply because I was going to be the main driver, and honestly, I already had trouble parallel parking with a regular sedan. And so, when I moved back and started driving again, I came across a BMW X1 and it seemed so small! The cars around it towered over that car. It amazes me how much Americans love big things. Go big or go home, right?
- Smiling Faces - Even though I lived in Poland for almost 4 years my habit of smiling at others never disappeared. But I have to say, I did get used to people not smiling back at me or even smiling at me before I had a chance to smile at them. So the first time I went shopping with my mom I experienced something that I would have never imagined - I felt “Polish”. Let me explain what that means. While walking around, I noticed people smiling at me. And it felt weird. I eventually started feeling confused and even annoyed. For some reason, their smiling faces seemed artificial. Something they do to everyone, it felt un-genuine. However, I have gotten used to it again :D
I hope I didn’t miss something else! But for those first timers in the US, what are some of the things that shocked you when you first arrived? Did you have a similar experience than me?