Monday, October 21, 2013

Reverse Culture Shock

a typical New England  town common 
Reverse culture shock really exists…especially  after 50 years  in another country.
My recent  visit to the States  lasted  12 days and each day  I discovered several reasons why I could no longer  live there .

  Here are a few   things that bothered me …and a few positive things that I liked :
1.  the absurdity of  wooden poles  to hold   up heavy power lines, often cutting through magnificent trees

chrysantemums were everywhere... in Italy  it is a flower only for the dead
and cemeteries 

the autumn foilage  was brilliant 

painting  expressing  the fast pace of life
2  the   fast pace  of life— suburban Americans  are   chained to their cars: there are   drive thru (even the spelling  is rushed!) lanes  to pickup cardboard containers of horrible coffee and donuts.
Even banks and pharmacies  are outfitted  with drive thru lanes   and windows.  What is all the rush about?   We felt weird being  the only people  walking  along the sidewalk during the week, yet  bike trails  were crowded with bikers on weekends.
the very busy drive thru lane at Dunkin Donuts
3. the huge portions of food at restaurants, fried onion rings,  bare tables with not a tablecloth in sight

4. the ever present air conditioning… the  temperature of   our hotel suite’s was  Siberian each time we entered  and the beds  were  equipped with down comforters…so it was either  freeze  or  sweat. The windows  opened  only a crack. 

magnificent, but chilly,  hotel lobby
5.the  tipping dilemma, how much  and when to tip?  to the waiter, the shuttle bus  driver ? Being used to Italy’s family owned  restaurants and  services, made it difficult  to figure out.

There were many  positive  discoveries too.
historic homes open  to public
1.      The lovely  museums  and  historic homes that were  open  to the public, even if the Federal shutdown meant that  major national parks and sites were closed
at the Chelmsford   historical museum 
another private home   open to visitors

2.      Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum  in Boston with its  Gothic Room, the  new wing and  restaurant where we met  curator Anne Marie Eze  for lunch and exchange of books

3.      Senior discounts were given by   our  hotel, the train  to Boston and even Dunkin Donuts 

cub scouts   near the hotel 
4.      No sales tax  in New Hampshire  meant  I saved  on a lot on purchases at the Mall, including   $35 tax off the purchase of an iPad  (now I have to learn  to use it )

a violin  serenade  for  100 year old  Aunt Mamie
5.      The joy of  seeing family and participating in several  marvelous festivities: the 100th birthday celebration of Aunt Mamie , the meet up with old family friends  and the wild wedding weekend of my beautiful niece Shana.
getting together  with all   my brothers and sisters  

seeing  the younger generation of the family ...

and visiting with  101 year old friend Eleanor and her daughters  Val and Ellie

Have you  experienced culture shock  when going back to the States?


  1. You are lucky. You got to experience a coast. My mother used to live in Illinois. No butter was ever served, because butter caused heart attacks, but then the only thing you can order in restaurants is meat, deep fried served with such crap as "jello salad." The most horrible food ever. Hypocrisy for lunch. I couldn't stand going back there, so I convinced my mother to move to California, where the chickens are poison unless you cook them a day and a half and never touch them with your bare hands, but still...


  2. Oh,yes, after having lived abroad,in various countries, since 1965! I hae been living in Germany first off and on and now permanently since 1985, also from 1968-69 and 1974-75. I love visiting my home town ,connecting with a few school ,college and Peace Corps friends. With this last group I have much in common as we have all lived overseas, Culture shock when arriving in the USA....aöö those overhead wires dangling everywhere (here it's all underground), too many overweight people, selection of junk food and sugared drinks in the supermarkets are negative but the easy going friendliness and hospitality of most people is in contrast to the sometime reservedness of the Germans, thpuugh this is changing, especially in the younger generation here. Urban sprawl had swallowed pretty little villages and is totally ugly....those huge shoppping malls !!! And yes, the food st the "family" restaurants leaves much to be desired, at least on the WNY area.

  3. thanks for the comments James..and anonymous (Marilyn?)