The Expat Returns

I’ve been back in Texas for two weeks and it’s been a harder transition back than I expected it to be. I experienced a bit of a culture shock from the moment I stepped off the plane and onto American soil! Regarding? Glad y’all asked.

What outsiders think Texas is like

Observations of the Returned Expat

  • American elderly folks are slow as molasses. While walking in Frankfurt a couple weeks ago, my mom and I saw a tiny woman who probably saw World War I lost right before her eyes carrying an entire ladder! Granted, it was probably a six foot ladder, but STILL. I wanted to take a picture, but she was hustlin’ so fast in her little grandma outfit down the avenues of Frankfurt I couldn’t get a good shot. Hot damn. Elderly Americans can hardly cross the street without needing a boy scout’s assistance.
  • The toilets all work properly in America. There’s no need to linger to make sure the toilet has done its job when you flushed. In Ireland, the toilets maybe work, but also maybe decide to flood and make weird noises for two hours at a time.
  • TAX. OH MY GOD WHY IS TAX NOT INCLUDED. In Ireland, if something is €10, you hand over a €10 note, and walk away BECAUSE TAX IS ALREADY INCLUDED IN THE PRICE. It makes things simple, and you usually don’t walk away with irrelevant coins because they’ve decided to make something cost €10.48. Everything would be so much easier if we had the same nation-wide tax rate, included in the price of things already. GEESUS.
  • It. Is. So. Hot. In. Texas. Of course, I’m posting this on the one cold winter day we’ve had this year… but it’s usually about 60 – 70 degrees here in Houston and that was definitely a physical shock considering Dublin hovers at a consistent 40 degrees 11 months out of the year.  My Australian friends celebrate Christmas in the summer (#SouthOfTheEquatorProbs), and I once asked myself How can they drink hot cocoa and get into the Christmas spirit when it’s SUMMER WEATHER!? before I quickly realized we do the exact same thing because of our comparably mild winter weathers.
  • Cursing. Irish people are always cursing. It’s kind of endearing because of their accent… but I definitely was made aware of my new-found sailor mouth when I returned. Suburbia America just doesn’t let loose verbally like Irish do. Which brings me to my next point…
  • American drinking culture is not nearly as bad as Irish drinking culture. Irish people drink from sun up to sun down. It’s been nice to come home and detox, because the temptation in Ireland was definitely real. One does not simply turn down a free pint in Ireland. That being said, it’s probably not a good idea to get turnt at your friend’s wedding the second you get home just because there happens to be an open bar… oops. New (old) habits die hard.
  • Americans are sloppy. I have a love-hate relationship with this. On one hand, I agree that sometimes it is a lot of effort to pull an outfit together just for a Target run. I myself used to love to wear Hanes long-sleeved shirts (they’re the comfiest!) in Dublin, but I’d at least put on a pair of jeans and not leggings like every other basic American would. But is it really necessary to wear the muddy jeans + camo shirt + duck huntin’ baseball cap combo EVERYWHERE? At least put on clean jeans. Why are y’all wearing sweatpants everywhere. And old dingy commemorative shirts from 1984. Have a lil class. This it the land of the free, home of the brave.
  • Everyone in the South is exceptionally friendly compared to other parts of the world. Everyone else in America range from very friendly (Chicago) to politely pretentious (New York City). It’s been an adjustment to come home and make small talk again because that just doesn’t happen with the airport check-in staff, library attendant, supermarket clerk, etc. in Ireland. Sure they’re friendly, but you’d never walk away getting someone’s business details so they can help you find a job like your man did for me when I was helping him find jewelry last week. Southerners are so friendly and I definitely missed that a lil bit.
  • America is big. Texas is big. Yesterday our weather forecast predicted tornadoes for Dallas, blizzards for the panhandle, flood watch for parts of the east coast, and a mild 80 degrees of cloudy mild weather on the southern Rio Grande valley border. Texas is 800 miles by 800 miles. Ireland is about 175 miles at its widest, and 300 miles tall (including Northern Ireland, which is a separate entity entirely). Coming home to such a big place was slightly overwhelming and I didn’t expect it to be so.

Just like everything, once you’re in the swing of things it’s amazing how quickly you can adapt. I started working at the jewelry store I always work at around Christmastime, and soon I was making Whataburger runs and shopping at Target like I had never left. Except, I had. I’m a different person now than I was before this crazy adventure, and jumping back into my “old life” has been a mix of emotions. That’s at the back of my mind and something that has me feelin’ some type of way. How can I be homesick for Ireland when I’m technically home in Texas? Isn’t this my home?

But that’s a blog post for another day.





13 thoughts on “The Expat Returns

  1. Kiki, I feel ur pain. I ALWAYS say I shulda stayed in Miami coz i feel like an alien in Tx. It’s another world over there where people voice their opinions/feelings without worrying. Here i have to tiptoe & make sure i say things just so. Yes, i appreciate the niceness but i guess i love the brashy, cursing, laughing, funny folks!

    1. Yes! I love Texas and it will always be the the place I have roots but I’m ready for something new again. I think I’m ready for big international city dreams- maybe London!

  2. Ooh Lowwd! Girl, you got me feeling conflicted too. The old folk comment is so true. If you had been in England, I would have thought the lady was my Mother in Law. She’s a walker. The adult beverage consumption, your liver is probably confused what is worse sweet Texas tea or daily pints of beer, sounds like an experiment is in order. I’ll be happy to participate in a few months time when I move back to Texas. The transition to being away and reintegrating into Texas society is dramatic compared to Europe (in general). You had an amazing time over there and life here is great because of family, but its truly night & day. It’s kind of like the difference between Orange County, CA and Panama City, FL. not a lot in common, but you adapt quickly to your environment, that doesn’t always look good on the outside, but on the inside its comforting, without the designer sunglasses, excessive amounts of red wine and fancy cars. Before you know it you’ll be top knotting that hair, Target T’s, yoga pants and flip flops, drinking Texas Tea and eating excessive amounts of Blue Bell Ice Cream. Hang in there. If you miss Europe you can always come out to California to visit your English Uncle & I. Jessie would love a visit too. Jordan has his fancy high rise apartment to himself for two more weeks in Tempe until his room mate gets back from Singapore. He’s open to a couch surfer, as long as the surfer isn’t me. You are always welcome here anytime. I can’t wait to test out that Texas hospitality, if Donald Trump becomes president though, it will be short lived, I’ll be moving to Texas for a few months and then to Europe until the 4 years of torture is over. Oops, didn’t mean to talk politics…. Love ya!

  3. Oops….I forgot to type some bad words…Hot Damn its too Mother Freaking Hot in Texas, what kind of Crappy Ass Weather madness is this bullcrap. Ahhhh that felt amazing.

    1. HAHAHA I still get mad road rage in the car- I can’t quite manage to curb my cursing there. Not my fault Houstonians can’t drive.
      I may be visiting California soon! I can’t go too long without taking a flight 🙂

  4. Good observation and argument about “tax included”. It does simplify purchases. Thank goodness you’ve been able to curve your sailor mouth – – Robert is a sponge and I don’t think I could handle him running around dropping “f” bombs! It’s wonderful that you have somewhere to miss – – it means you’ve been somewhere really fabulous. You are richly blessed!

  5. I think it is going to be hard to adjust, but you’ll get there. If my parents had let me got to Ireland I would be in detox somewhere instead of a jewelry store. (Not lying). I think I can outdrink your Irish friends for real though. Thank goodness you’re back in good gals belong in Texas or that mighta been you (?) Next point, your maternal grandmother , actually you dad’s mom too, must be Europeans cause they are some fabulously strong women who at 76 still do things like mow their own lawns on a hot humid Texas/Florida day (in full sun)….(with no water break)….Oh ya, and by the way, Texas is too huge….You should move to central Florida. It really is like living in another country. You might like the adventure there and people are not that nice. It’s nothing like Texas……Plus grandma says she wants you closer to here! Ok, so I know this does not ease your heartache for your new love that is Ireland, but maybe I stopped the profuse (resounding) bleeting! Haha!

  6. You’re always welcome in PC! By the way, Tiff said if you ever go back she wants to visit you there. She said she did not realize you and her were so much alike. I don’t know how I would take that since she once asked Alysa which one of the (Pixar) “Inside Out” characters best described her and she said “Disgust”……(and Tiff busted out laughing) admitting Alysa picked out a good one! (Everyone wants to be a comedian)….

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