Reverse Culture Shock & Other Summer Shenanigans

26 Jul

For the past two years, I’ve been sharing our interesting/crazy Thailand adventures, including all of the things about living abroad that fit into the category of culture shock. What became clear this summer, more so than last summer, is that the longer you live abroad, the more your own culture can shock you too, aka reverse culture shock. I haven’t looked up the official definition of reverse culture shock, but my own definition goes something like this: being startled by things in your home country that you previously either never noticed or thought were normal because 1) you’ve gotten used to a different way of doing things or 2) you never paid attention to it because you had nothing to compare it to. With that in mind, here goes my list of US things that made me go “huh?”.

  • People wearing shoes in the house, especially after inclement weather. I got over it, but I was actually kind of grossed out by it our first day back.
  • Portion sizes. Seriously, why did you serve me a nine-egg omelet?!
  • Being cold!! Vermont temps were in the 50s F at night. That’s fall weather friends, not July weather.
  • Driving on the right side of the road. I had to mentally focus the first few times I took a turn. My brave aunt let me chauffeur her around despite this. 🙂 Also, crossing the street as a pedestrian. Which way do I look??
  • Being able to eavesdrop. This sounds like a weird one, but on the NYC subway, I can successfully understand a healthy majority of the passengers, since most are speaking either English or Spanish. In Bangkok I can understand almost no one except the occasional lost tourist. I didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to just letting language wash over me, without paying explicit attention. I just assume I will not understand what’s going on around me (it took me a while to be okay with that). Coming back to the US and suddenly understanding nearly everything is crazy at first.
  • And finally, fashion. Thai style for females is equal parts sexy schoolgirl and matronly grandmother. Picture a peach paisley dress with a lace collar but super-short skirt. US style is now apparently that everyone and their mother (and grandmother and underage teenage daughter) wears teeny tiny booty shorts. I even saw a lady in booty shorts that were simultaneously overalls. Why? Just, why?

In other news, we had a smashing time over the summer. Major events as follows:

We spent a week on a Caribbean cruise with Orestes’ family, including stops in Nassau, St.Thomas, and St.Maarten. We ate conch in the Bahamas, visited Blackbeard’s castle on St.Thomas, and had beach time on St.Maarten. Orestes thought the water was cold (it was compared to Thailand beaches).  We also enjoyed some fun, wine-filled family dinners and a fancy tasting dinner on the ship.


We hung out in NYC, visited some of our favorite people, and ate at some of our favorite restaurants. We played some bar trivia (and won!), and introduced our dear Brits to chicken and waffles!


We had major Vermonty time, hiking, biking, and microbrewery visiting with good people. We enjoyed cooking our own food in a kitchen with more than two feet of counter space, and I ran the annual Stowe 8-Miler for the first time. I also got to see some of my Skidmore field hockey ladies, and a baby bump!


All in all, good times were had. It was far too short a time to spend with our nearest and dearest, but that’s why I keep advertising Thailand as YOUR next vacation destination. 😉 Also, huge hugs to everyone who traveled or rearranged their schedules to come visit us!!



One Response to “Reverse Culture Shock & Other Summer Shenanigans”

  1. Hooray! Love this post! Looks like you did have an awesome summer back in the states 🙂 And Baby H. feels so special to have been mentioned in the blog post – with a picture even! 😉

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