Culture shock back in the U.S.

I was away from Germany for the last month visiting the U.S. I went to my hometown (in Michigan), my second home (Boston), and a place that might as well be my home, since it’s where many of my friends live (Chicago).

Chicago

There were definitely some good things I had forgotten about the U.S.:

  • Jay walking: Germans do not jay walk. In my daily German life, I stand next to them with clear traffic waiting for the light to change. On my first morning in Boston, I was standing on the corner of a one-way street waiting for the walk sign, when I noticed groups of people crossing next to me. Ah, of course, I thought, I CAN JAY WALK!! I can watch the traffic instead of the light!
  • Bagels: What a wonderful breakfast food! I’ve missed you!
  • Unlimited water!

    Free water: Thank you, U.S., for providing me with a natural resource that I do not have to pay for at restaurants. I am thirsty and enjoy drinking a lot of water.

  • Eavesdropping: Ah, this is much easier to do in your native language.
  • Getting my hair cut: No fears about walking out of the salon when you can speak English! Plus, I can chat with the person cutting my hair the entire time.
  • Burritos: What an amazing food item you can pick up anywhere! I forgot about you!

Above all, I was thrilled to give my brain a vacation (well, a second one after Edinburgh) and to not have to think about everything in German. I could walk into a store and ask questions or freely ask for substitutions in a restaurant in English. While I can do a few of these things in German (and sometimes in English), it was nice to not have to rely on others. I would say being able to communicate tops my list of cultural things I miss about living in the U.S.

Extra-serious German pedestrian traffic light

Actually, I remember that this morning I waited 2 minutes for a walk sign on a clear street before crossing (trying to avoid a ticket and the scornful glares of some elderly Germans next to me). Maybe among the things I miss, it’s a toss up between communicating and jay walking.

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5 responses to “Culture shock back in the U.S.

  1. This is great and so true! I’m going to miss so much about Germany but jay walking is really underrated here. C’mon people…live dangerously…there are no cars in sight!

  2. Pingback: Boston & Cambridge restaurant tips from a former local | The Traveling Times·

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