Monday, June 28, 2010

things i forgot (or possibly never noticed) about the US

somewhere near charles city, iowa
~ really wide roads.

~ the tendency of stewardesses on american airlines (delta in this case) to treat everyone like small, dull children. i was waiting my turn at the bathroom onboard, the stewardess turned to explain to me which doors were the restrooms, as if i'd never seen a plane before.

~ the intensity of the plastic packaging on everything.

~ fake sweeteners.

~  the ubiquity of strip malls. even the child care places are in strip malls.

~  it seems that all restaurants are chain restaurants.

~  enormous cars. lots of them.

~  car designs that look like the car is actually a tank in car clothing.

~  the heavenly interior of the gap. (where thankfully they have remembered that their core competency is the hooded, pullover sweatshirt.)

~  miles and miles and miles of cornfields.

~  blaring and constant ads on radio.

~  how incredibly cheap it is to go out to eat.

~  people constantly saying "sorry" and "excuse me." (bear in mind i live in a land where people will actually run over your foot with their grocery cart and not utter a single word which acknowledges your existence, let alone expresses remorse.)

~  gas stations that are veritable snack villages (and where you can buy a jesus t-shirt while you're at it).

~  fireflies in the ditches.

i find i'm actually suffering a little bit from culture shock. i've not been here for nearly four years and either i forgot about all that stuff, or things have really changed. however, i see no signs whatsoever of any shift away from enormous, gas-guzzling vehicles, so apparently in that area the crisis was short-lived. i'll be sneaking back with more impressions when i have a moment of peace.


RosaMaría said...

is great to me read that I'm not the only person who think about those "sorry" and "excuse me" there...

Jill C. said...

I can't even imagine the number of differences you notice, since you live in another country! I only moved to Ohio and each time I visit my family once a year in California, it seems totally different each time!

Char said...

no cornfields here...just cotton and soybeans mostly. no big changes on cars and gasoline so far - it's blinders for sure.

chain restaurants are the bane of many cities. i always look for local.

Andi said...

Sounds like you are in the middle of the country...things are a little different on the coasts, but I love your impressions!

Elizabeth said...

How big will the cultureshock be when you get back? (SMILE)

Gwen said...

A Jesus t-shirt. Ooh, lucky you. I hope I find one on MY U.S. travels this summer. My first impression of the US, when I graduated from high school, was that it served enormous quantities of food. When I went back this February, though, all I could concentrate on was not speaking German to everyone.

Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures.

beth said...

but still...don't you just love it here ?

and we never eat at chain restaurants...we do everything we can to help the locally owned places survive :)

and ummm, yeah, i'm in wisconsin surrounded by cornfields and i never get tired of them...they really are amazing.

oh, and gas guzzling tanks.....both my hubby and i and both of our kids drive suv's.....are we crazy or what ?
actually, here's why. our winters suck and we feel safer in a big suv with all wheel drive to get us up and down the streets and out of snowbanks...well, and out of our driveway, too :)

mrs mediocrity said...

First of all...windmills! There is a tiny town near us that has installed about 15 of them on the tops of a small mountain overlooking a lake. I want one!
Second of all, no one, no one in the United States needs a Hummer, which is what I assume you are referring to.
The plastic packaging made me laugh out loud...what is up with that? You can sever an artery trying to open a package!
Welcome home...

Anonymous said...

now, hold on a that photo from the States?? Those remind me of England since I've never seen windmill farms here, but then again, I live in the South. Also ironic... every time we travel to England, the vehicles seem to get larger and larger. But everything else you mention is right on target!

Erin Wallace said...

Funny the things you notice about the US - snack Village gas stations - when I was in England we stopped at a Gas Atation on the highway that has a veritable Supermarket in it - but all of ours are like this, plenaty of resteraunts aren't chains, but you'd not notice it by our commerce strips, Hate those blaring radio ads!

Funny, interesting list!

xo Erin

christopher said...

Perhaps a little too broad stroked in part...but, I think, very good impressions overall.

Sammi said...

As strange as it all might feel, it sounds awesome.

Culture Shock is even stranger when you go back to where you come from. I think.

Liz Fulcher, The Fragrant Muse said...

I remember reverse culture shock when I lived in Rome. Interesting how our consumerism and lack of regard for the planet is so blaring.

Sandra said...

I had a client with a Hummer. Every time he came here in it I clenched my teeth. I wonder what battle they are waging.

Plastic on every thing is driving me nuts. It's NOT necessary.

Strip malls have made their way out here. nuff said.

I think politeness is a virtue still admired in Iowa. Not so much in all of the States.

You have to come back periodically to appreciate it, and to wonder as well.

Just Jules said...

hilarious. I love it.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Interesting the things you pick up on when you are away.

I'd be curious to see your list if you were in NYC or Los Angeles..... Sadly there'd be no corn fields or affordable food but here would be a lot of reallllly wide roads, to big and too small cars, fake body parts, not just sweeteners, blaring radio ads in a variety of languages and forest fires instead of fireflies.

Can you tell I miss the Midwest ;-)


Gisel said...

They're FLIGHT ATTENDANTS! Unless she's the pilot. No wonder she tried to lock you in the lav...

Anne said...

I agree with Sammi: I find that it's more shocking returning to places you know (or once knew) than it is going to completely new places. It's somewhat disconcerting. "Wait, it was like this all the time? And no one told me?"