Almost Reverse Culture Shock

I now come and go between the US and Spain with little to no problems. Besides frustration at airports. Airports, I used to love you, now I hate you.

But here are some things I will always do upon returning to the States:

  • Start to say perdón to people when I bump into them in the grocery store.
  • Refer to my phone as my “mobile.”
  • Search for the toilet flusher on top of the toilet in public places. This will last a good ten seconds until I finally turn around and have a “Duhhhh” moment all to myself.
  • Forget whether it’s in the States or the US where light switches are generally inside the room.
  • Marvel at the fact that stoplights are indeed on the other side of the street. Does this make more or less sense?
  • Eat lunch at 2 p.m., then 1:30, then 1,  but never, ever 12. Who can eat lunch at 12, let alone 11?
  • Ask for the “ag … I mean, water.”

What do you always do upon returning home to the States (or to Spain or to wherever you’re from)?

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15 thoughts on “Almost Reverse Culture Shock

  1. I personally get a little bit overexcited about being able to make small talk again, especially with supermarket assistants. They are generally horrid and miserable in Barcelona but in the UK there is so much to be said about the weather.. haha… The weirdest thing is probably remembering to speak English and not Spanish and to remember to say please, which I generally do away with in Spanish… I always say thank you though… Weird that you wrote this- I just wrote something similar on my own blog http://www.thecafecat.blogspot.com

    Hope you are well, xxx

  2. Ha, I hadn’t even noticed the stoplights thing but it’s true! Strange…

    I always experience a sense of outrage that there’s almost no public transportation. I know it won’t have changed between visits, but it still makes me cross for a few days.

  3. Did the light thing about a million times in my own house. Also, the toilets. I also get super weirded out when the servers at restaurants are really nice and helpful. I’ve also noticed I’m a little more rude, no please and thank you until I’m corrected! Sad I didn’t run into you at the airport!

  4. My wife and I love looking for the power out let switch. I wish they were standard here. it just makes sense to be able to switch things off at he power outlet if you want.

  5. Wow, there are so many differences between Spain and France! Can’t say I’m surprised but I do find it interesting.
    The toilet paper remark really hit home for me. When I’m back in the States, I always grab for the paper behind me, that and press the center of the tank to flush.

    When you make these reverse culture shock blunders, do people think you are doing it on purpose and trying to be “all Spanish” now? I’ve gotten such negative remarks from people saying, “Oh come on, you were born in America, you’re not French!” Grrrrr.

    We can’t help it! I swear we’re not pretentious! This post makes me feel better. Merci et Gracias. : ) !

  6. Yes with the “mobile”! I did that too – for longer than I should have. Also counting on my hand starting with the thumb. Also, I’m sorry, but I’m convinced the Americans have got it right with the stoplights – better visibility.

  7. The first couple of days back I was always having this awkward lean-in to give kisses. Of course I don’t realize what I’m doing until I’m 3 inches from their cheek and they’re looking at me like I’m insane. :) There were several words that would come to my mind in Spanish instead of English. I also was much too excited about the free water that you can get at restaurants here. :D Saying “perdón” instead of “excuse me” is still happening after 2 months back home. :P

    1. Hahaha I did that in a Mexican restaurant, after speaking Spanish with the owner! I guess the Spanish speaking got me thinking it was time for dos besos!

  8. I always say euros in the States and dollars in Europe. For some reason, the two get criss-crossed in my brain and I always say the wrong one in the wrong continent!

  9. on the airplane back to the states I always start to order in Spanish when the flight attendant is clearly does not speak Spanish. then i catch myself and look momentarily mentally slow looking for the words in English.

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