May 9, 2012

Choc Culturel Inverser

My first moment of reverse culture shock came rather quickly. It happened the same day I arrived in California. After the hour and a half long drive home from LAX, I really had to pee. I groggily went to my bathroom, and took care of business. It was after that the culture shock occurred.

I went to flush the toilet, and something was wrong. There was nothing on the top for me to pull or push. “How do I….” I began to think, when I almost immediately remembered that in America, the flush is on the side of the toilet.

Most of the big differences I was mentally prepared for. I knew I would be carded again and that the cars are bigger here. It was the smaller stuff that crept up on me unexpectedly; the weight of a coke can; how awkward it felt ending a text conversation without “bisous.”

I think what made it so weird is that most things were still the same at home. I would often quickly remember, “oh right, that’s how we do things here.” It wasn’t my home that had changed. I had changed.

Despite feeling ever so American the entire time I was living in Lille, I now felt entirely too French. It would seem I am no longer 100% either way.

8 comments:

  1. Ah...the fate of the ex-pat! I think it is one of the scariest things about living overseas for a long period...you stop belonging anywhere. Hope that your transition goes well - are you in U.S. for good now?

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    1. I hope not! I've applied to get my Masters Degree in France at a couple different universities. I'll find out in June if I get in or not!

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  2. Where in CA are you staying? I don't think I've been in France to experience culture shock when I head back home for vacation . . . but who knows.

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    1. I live in South Orange County with my folks! When are you coming back to California?

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  3. My first moment like this occurred five years ago on a trip to NYC. I was shopping at Gap and when I was paying, I was looking at the American money in my hand and was struggling with it like I used to with Euros. It was a little embarrassing.

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  4. That's exactly it... no longer fully American, yet not fully French either. It's a strange place to be, for sure.

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  5. Hahaha -- I totally identify with the toilet thing.

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