I had the grand idea to write a blog about our initial observations on America after our return, but at the 24 hour mark, I was busy getting dinner ready. After that, I hit a wall and could hardly keep my eyes open much less think and compose anything that made sense.
We got in Wednesday afternoon and came to Mike’s parents’ house. I was up for a little bit, but I crashed for about an hour before being awakened to go out to eat with family. It was a little weird to go out to eat. As I often hear from Mike and Grace, we never go out to eat. There were a few differences that we noticed, but we noticed more than just the restaurant. It’s been two years since we were in the States, and that was just for a few weeks. It’s been four years since we lived here (that time was for one year). I knew that coming back, I would go through some adjustments, and it’s made it easier this time since I’m prepared for them. We knew to expect things like being cold from air conditioning. I know we make our families chuckle when they see us with jackets on. I also know that we’ll get used to it eventually, but it hasn’t happened yet.
So, here are some observations that Mike, Grace and I have made about America/the differences between America and The Netherlands:
*The cars here are huge. There are so many SUVs and trucks that we feel a little dwarfed by them all.
*The parking spaces are incredibly huge. Of course, with so many large vehicles, you have to have huge parking spaces. When I parked, I thought that I must have been over on one side because I couldn’t believe the amount of space I had on my side. Nope. I was absolutely well-parked. Seriously, how could anyone not park well in this country?!
*The weather is much different! We came in to a sunny, warm day. When we left The Netherlands, it was rainy and cold. Grace said yesterday morning, “It feels like there’s water in the air.” We had to explain humidity to her and how we have it in The Netherlands, but humidity in the cold feels much different than humidity in the heat. Neither are all that great!
*Everything is bigger. I know I already mentioned the cars and parking spaces, but we’ve noticed how much bigger refrigerators and stoves are. Also, containers are much bigger. I thought that I shouldn’t surely buy something in the grocery store because it was so big, and then I remembered the giant refrigerator that can hold it.
*There are electrical outlets everywhere. Our rooms in The Netherlands have few outlets. I was looking around for a place to plug my computer in. First of all, I tried to plug it in thinking that it was strange that it wouldn’t work. Duh! I still had my European plug on it. Fortunately, I switched it out for my American plug without causing any damage to my computer. I looked around and noticed plugs everywhere. I have to say that is much more convenient.
*Places have many more bathrooms. (Note: We still say toilet, but in deference to Americans’ cringing when we say ‘toilet,’ I’m trying to say bathroom more often.) I was just about to get into the shower yesterday and asked if anyone needed to go to the bathroom before I got in. Then I remembered that there were other bathrooms in the house that they could use.
*There aren’t as many dogs around. In The Netherlands, we see people constantly walking dogs – rain, sleet or snow. I think I’ve only seen two dogs out since we’ve been here.
*Grace said that it was strange to hear radio commercials in English. We walked into a store, and it was strange to first hear people speaking English with each other. I’m sure we’ll get used to that pretty quickly.
*People talk to you much more. Maybe it’s a Southern thing, but it seems really strange when people you don’t know (like store cashiers) hold an entire conversation with you. I’m used to the typical, “Hi,” “Was that everything?” or “Do you need a bag?” This is pretty different. Grace has definitely picked up on it. I don’t think she really knows how to respond to them. For example, I had a random person come up to me in the store asking my fashion advice for her son. If you knew me and my sense of fashion, you would see even more humor in that. After several minutes of talking, she walked away, and Grace looked at me with a look that said, “What was up with that lady?!”
*We have to really spend time in the grocery stores looking at what they have. I’ve gotten used to eating certain things in Holland. Now, don’t get me wrong. When I was eating yellow squash last night, I was in heaven. However, I remember moving to The Netherlands 8 years ago and walking through the aisles of the store thinking, “They don’t have things like we have in America. What will we eat?” Yesterday, I walked through looking for things like good bread without loads of preservatives and sugar. I think we found something that will work, but it’s not exactly the same and it’s MUCH more expensive that the bread we’re used to. I also got used to eating Brinta for breakfast every morning. If any Dutch people are reading this, yes, I eat Brinta. I know you think it’s baby food, but with some flax seed in it, it’s delicious and very healthy! I went through the aisles yesterday looking for something that might be enough like it that it will work. I got Malt-o-Meal. We’ll see how they compare.
I know that we’ll have many more observations/frustrations as we try to adjust back to life for one year here. I just hope that I don’t frustrate too many people in the process!