Well, 3 plane rides, 6 hours worth of layovers, and one 30-hour day later, I am back in the United States.

I must admit, I am going through a bit of reverse culture shock. America is so different than any place on earth if by nothing more than the fact that we have by far the most diverse population demographics. I was used to looking around Greece and seeing Greeks. I looked around Italy and saw Italians. I looks around Israel and saw Jews and Palestinians. Not a whole lot of diversity around, save the tourists (like us). But when I look around America, I see people of all descents, races, nationalities, ethnicities, religions, color, body build. So much diversity leads to a very unique way of doing things.

Here are some of the key differences I see between America and the rest of the world:

  • On the whole, Americans do not realize how much the US effects the rest of the world
  • Americans care way less about the environment than most of Europe
  • After being overseas for so long, it’s shocking to me how big the vehicles are that Americans drive
  • We take our plumbing system for granted
  • America has real bacon
  • Our language (English primarily) is not nearly as important to Americans as it is to the British, or as Italian is to Italians, or French is to the French, or Hebrew is to the Israelis
  • *This is in no way meant to offend anyone, it is merely an observation* – There really are far more overweight people in America than anywhere else I have been
  • Europeans walk a lot more than most Americans would even think about
  • American public transportation (nearly non-existent in most places) has some catching up to do
  • While I disagree that America is a “Christian Nation”, there definitely is a much higher emphasis on faith (not religion) in America than most parts of Europe…and yes, there is a HUGE difference between faith and religion
  • It’s sad to me that most people I met around Europe, Egypt, and Israel could speak well at least 2 languages – one being English – when many Americans can barely master one language
  • English really is the “common” language of the world
  • Americans and the British put more emphasis on lines (or queues) than the rest of the world
  • I find it odd that the British economy is so much better than America’s, yet Americans work something like 50% more man-hours on average than the British do

These are just a few observations I wanted to share from my time overseas. While it is difficult to make the transition back to the American way of life once again, I did get to have Sonic for dinner last night and Cracker Barrel for breakfast this morning. When you spend that much time away from your home country, you start missing some things very strongly. You also dread going back to the things you definitely did not miss.

  • Missed bacon/American breakfasts
  • Did not miss American fast food
  • Missed driving
  • Did not miss seeing behemoth vehicles carrying one person “just because”
  • Missed fellow English speakers
  • Did not miss Southern accents
  • Missed having a cell phone
  • Did not miss TV commercials

There is also a list of things I will miss from Europe and some things I’m glad to get away from:

  • Will miss efficient public transportation
  • Will not miss European drivers
  • Will miss proper gyros (amazing food from Greece)
  • Will not miss getting more than recommended daily allowance of second hand smoke
  • Will miss being able to bargain at shops
  • Will not miss European fashions
  • Will miss being able to walk nearly everywhere
  • Will not miss having to walk nearly everywhere
  • Will miss the beautiful Cathedrals and architecture
  • Will not miss Greek Orthodox v. Catholicism

I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything in the world. I feel like this semester has been a turning point in my life – spiritually, politically, emotionally, mentally, etc. My eyes have been opened to another world outside the bubble that is America. I have been to the other side and back. I have walked through some of the most disputed land on the face of the earth. I have traveled deep into the Muslim world. I have wandered through the wilderness in the dark. I have traveled from the Middle East to the United Kingdom and have used 6 different types of currency. I have encountered 9 or 10 completely different cultures and have been shaped by each one. I feel that I am no longer bound by the short-sighted American lenses through which I viewed the world. I thank God for this experience and will definitely use it to the glory of his kingdom.

1 Comment

  1. I definitely missed public transit after getting back from Russia. And then I got used to cars and it took a few weeks to get back into the public transit swing of things in the Bay Area. Overall though, I’ve become quite sold on the buses and walking mode of life.There are few things in the world like bacon. Gyros would be a possible rival.(This is Demetria, btw. Although, since you’ve been kicking around the Mediterranean, you may know now more than one.)

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