I have been back in the States for exactly a month now. Culture shock began the moment I was greeted heartily by the "Welcome home" of the smiling, Southern-drawling customs official at the airport. And the culture shock moments have been adding up though ever since. Here are eleven for starters:
-I must drive to the grocery store now rather than walk or ride the subway. Sometimes I need to get back in the car if I want to visit the store... next door.
-Everyone greets me with a big smile and a beautiful tone of informality.
-The check-out ladies at the store gladly bag my groceries, even though they seem shocked if when I present my own canvas bag or decline to use any bag at all.
-Recycling in the US is about a decade behind Europe.
-Air-conditioning exists. Americans don't fear drafts like the Germans do. Thankfully.
-I have two hundred TV channels to choose from rather than twenty. I've quickly realized, however, that more does not equal better.
-Americans wear more colorful clothing and more shorts, and flip-flops seem to be required attire in warm weather months. The very sound of flip-flops is unescapable. I haven't decided how I feel about this yet.
-My pockets are lighter because I lack one- and two-Euro coins.
-A liter of Coke once again costs noticeably less than a liter of beer. I preferred it the other way around.
-I must calculate for tips again at restaurants. This is a royal pain.
-Umlauts no longer adorn signs.
So, our life with umlauts has come to its end, but readjusting to life without umlauts might take a little more time. I will probably still add a few more entries over the next few weeks to wrap up my reflections on the past year. Stay tuned.