Reverse Culture Shock

People joke about expatriates “losing” their English, as if you could forget how to speak in your mother tongue after being away for just four years.

But sometimes we do feel like we forget how to live in America. Every once in a while a situation arises that you just KNOW that you should know how to react. Here are some examples :

Dilemma #1
We are alone in the house for a week. One night we pull the car into the drive way at 11:30pm. Every one of the neighbors have left a light on outside of their garage. And then the dilemma arises : Why are we the ONLY ones on the street who haven’t left the light on outside the house? When do we leave the light on outside the house? Is it just for when you are waiting for someone to come home? Are ALL of our neighbors still waiting for someone to come home? Do they leave their lights on all night long? We don’t have driveway lights in Paris.

Dilemma #2
Still alone in the house. We are accustomed to locking the car doors everywhere we got. We are not accustomed to having a garage. So for the first few days we automatically locked the car doors as a habit even when we parked in the garage. The one day we began to wonder. Do you really have to lock your car doors in the garage? What do most people do? We don’t have a car in Paris.

Dilemma #3
We’re invited to a friends’ house for dinner, Spaghetti and a green salad, yum! So they hand me the salad bowl and say, “Serve yourselves, you’re the guests.” So I grab some salad and pile it on my plate. Then I pass the salad bowl to Rob and he scoops salad on his plate and as we pass the salad bowl to our hosts we notice they’re kinda looking at us funny, and one goes, “Um, you know the bowl is for your salad and the plate is for your spaghetti.” And we’re totally chuckling inside because for the last four years the plate has been for the salad (then you clean it with your bread between courses) and the plate is also for your spaghetti. We would assume the bowl was for dessert.

Dilemma #4
Vegetables. Do Americans eat vegetables?

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