Culture Shock

We are officially back in DC.

Actually we have been here for 2 weeks, but it doesn’t feel that long.

My Mom and I drove across the country from the family farm in Iowa and pulled into the driveway at 7pm on the second day of driving. The first day of driving was filled with horrific rain fall from the early afternoon into the night with massive amounts of semis threatening to spin out of control at any second.  It was so horrific we stopped early in Indiana, a state I make a point to never stop in. (For a variety of reasons, one of which is the lack of interstate rest stops.)

In the last few weeks we’ve gotten 95% of the boxes unpacked and driving is becoming slightly less terrifying. I’ve even found time to go out with some of my old girlfriends and get more drunk than I have been in the last 10 years.

And I still find my head spinning from time to time at different things.

Like the checkout line at the grocery store. I counted 85 different kinds of candy snacks at the checkout counter. And that was only on one side of the aisle.  In my small grocery shop in Basel there was probably a third of that.

And magazines. There were 20 different magazines there. There were 4 at my old shop.

That is a lot of visual stimulation and temptation. Even the kids noticed a difference.

The other thing they noticed was the number of cars around.

So. Many. Cars.

Not that there aren’t people driving cars in Switzerland. There are. People drive all the time and all over. However, 6 lane roads aren’t necessary to carry Basel traffic just through the city and it is small enough, with an extremely extensive public transportation system, that many people don’t feel the need to drive their cars all the time.

I have managed to remember how to weave my way through the traffic. And that killer instinct needed to secure a parking spot is coming back.

I am also remembering how to use GPS and drive. I used the GPS on my phone the first 8 times I left the house. Both driving and on foot.

This was necessary because I hadn’t realized until I was 1 hour from home on the drive back with my mom that I didn’t know where “home” was.  And after that I realized I had no idea where the grocery store, the CVS, or the Chipotle was.

I finally didn’t need it the other day and E complimented me on finally memorizing my way back home. It only took me a week and a half.

Another thing that has been a shock is how easily I’m slipping into eating out again. Eating out often. And wanting to eat out very often.

Until the last month we were in Switzerland we ate out at restaurants other than the BIS club 6 times.  That is 6 times in 2 years.  I’ve been in the country 2 months and I’ve eaten out 14 times.

And I’m about to eat out again on Wednesday.

I’m also tempted to go to Costco this week, but I think I might need a friend to go with me in case I faint or have a nervous breakdown. I just went to Target to get the kids school supplies and had to lay down when I got home. So many rude, spoiled people elbowing their way through shelves of notebook and pencil displays.

There is a Chipotle across from my usual Costco, so that could help bolster my will to live through what will surely be an overwhelming experience.

I am finding I am glad to be back. I’ve missed my friends. I’ve missed my clothes dryer. I’ve missed my regular nail and hair salon. I’ve missed Mexican food. I’ve missed being no more than 3 times zones away from some of my oldest friends.

There will be many more things that I will discover that I secretly missed. And we will be exploring more of America. There is a lot to explore. I hope you come along.


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