I haven’t talked much about adjusting back to American culture, so I thought I’d share my impressions from my first forty-eight hours back in the States.
Upon landing in Detroit, I was overwhelmed by the English surrounding me. I could read all the signs. I could understand what people were saying around me. John even chided me in the customs line for talking about personal topics because people could understand. In China, I had developed the bad habit of talking about whatever I wanted whenever I wanted because no one could understand me. Anyway, being able to read all the signs was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do with all the information. It was so strange after not being able to read or understand anything around me for the past five months.
This information overload continued for the next couple days as we drove up to Bowling Green. We could have chosen any number of ways (though there is only one direct way) to get there because we could read signs. It was awesome!
However, I think the moment that being surrounded by English really hit me was in Wendy’s the day after we arrived. My 10 year old brother-in-law Daniel wanted to take me to lunch, so we headed to the Wendy’s down the street. He wanted chicken nuggets, and I wanted a salad. So I began to place the order and pointed at the menu. But the man behind the register understood me. I didn’t have to explain myself. It was weird. While we were waiting for our food I told Daniel that John also like sweet and sour sauce because Daniel had ordered it with his nuggets. And the man behind the register asked who like sweet and sour sauce. I was taken aback that people I didn’t know could understand me. It was so strange.
After a few days, the strangeness of being understood and understanding everything subsided, and I relearned what was appropriate to discuss in public and what should be talked about in the privacy of our own room. The information overload and just being surrounded by English was definitely the most strange adaption for me, at least initially. More to follow soon. 🙂