Reverse Culture Shock
I was so super excited when B responded that she was willing to guest post for me while PCS. Having just gone through her own huge move back to the US, I was positive she would have some awesome thoughts on the matter. She definitely delivered!
Since returning to America from our time in Japan, we have definitely experienced some reverse culture shock. Even though we lived on installation in Japan, and were surrounded by other Americans, we hadn't actually been in the U.S. since June 2013. We knew there would be some adjustments when we moved back across the Pacific but didn't quite anticipate them all. Here are a few that we've experienced over the past few weeks:
- Speed limits are way higher. We're used to driving an average of 30-40km per hour which is 18.6 and 25.8mph, respectively. Driving on the interstate again feels like we're in the Indy 500!
- People are much ruder. Japanese people and culture are notorious for being polite (sometimes to a fault). Americans are not, unfortunately. It's been quite frustrating to be out in town and realize that people rarely care about anyone but themselves.
- The "tipping culture" is more annoying. My husband was not a fan of tipping before we went overseas, but now we both find it irritating. In Japan, tipping is considered insulting as it's seen as an indicator that you believe someone doesn't make enough money. It seems that tipping in America is more about "having" to than really appreciating great service. Let's just pay people real wages!
- Grocery stores are overwhelming. SO.MANY.CHOICES. Our overseas grocery options were often slim pickings as far as product variety. Now, there are so many products available for anything we might want that it's hard to choose. However, the plus side to this is that we finally have an abundance of organic options which I am thrilled about.
- Things feel more dangerous. Japan is often rated the safest nation in the world. Not only that, but we lived in a pretty rural area and on a small, secure base. For now, we're back on the east coast and it feels like everyone is doing something nefarious everywhere we go.
- We can actually try on clothes before buying. The past few years we've been limited to online shopping for 98% of our clothing purchases. It has been so nice to actually be able to feel and try on clothes before buying them!
- Easier to get around. We can actually read street signs again! And streets are actually labeled!
- Familiar restaurants abound. We are some delicious things in Japan, and there are some restaurants I will probably miss forever, but I am loving being around American restaurants again. Old favorite chains, great local eats, and new places popping up all the time means our taste buds have been treated well these past couple of weeks!
- Family is much closer! We are actually near both of our families for the time being, which is a rare treat as a military family. My husband's next duty station will likely be quite far away, so we are enjoying and trying to take advantage of this time.
B, a military spouse, blogs over at then there was we. She writes about all things family (including stepmotherhood and having a new baby), and shares recipes, recommendations, and tidbits about life being married to the Air Force.