Signs of Home

Despite holding many of your own cultural idiosyncrasies near and dear to your heart, you also tend to acclimate to wherever you are living. I remember surprising my two best friends in Chicago when, after returning from Germany, I sprinted to the checkout line at the grocery store as if my life depended on it (In some places in Germany, you’re life could depend on it because people run and cut to get to the front).

Here are a few nuggets of the US culture that hit me when I experienced them last week in Florida after being in Europe all year. It’s easy to forget that some of these things are part of what defines our culture and you may never realize it until they change on you.

  • The first thing that I did after getting my luggage was to rent a car. So much for walking everywhere.
  • At the restaurant I had ordered a Sprite. With the same care that the shuttle takes when docking with the International Space Station, the waitress set down a new drink the very instant I was placing my now-empty cup back on the table. I’m used to having to flag-down the staff for service (actually, I find the persistence a bit claustrophobic and prefer my personal space while dining).
  • WiFi, Internet, Everywhere! No matter what you read about the US being behind on Internet access, don’t believe it. Out of all the places I went – restaurants, a theater, bowling alley, car rental, airports, etc… – only two didn’t have good free WiFi, and I can’t blame the theater for not wanting that interruption for their films.
  • Ice water. It doesn’t take long to get used to room-temperature water. Getting already-chilled water full of ice was a shock on a hot Florida day.
  • Room 210 comes right after the first stairwell. In Germany, the ground floor is floor zero and then you get the “1 O.G.” where our 2nd floor would be and so on.
  • Bathroom stall doors have a large gap you can see through. Everywhere I’ve been in Europe has doors that completely cover the entrance, so it’s a bit uncomfortable feeling exposed like that.