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.
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.