So let’s talk culture shock. Just like being homesick, it’s come early. What really puts things into perspective is not when you are surrounded by people who all speak another language, because I was expecting this, but things like paying for water and not leaving a tip are not situations I expected. It’s the little things that throw you for a loop. The fact that the cars drive wherever they please, that art is incorporated into the city’s driving signs (if there are any), that ashtrays are still on tables at restaurants, that grocery stores make you pay for the bags, that washing machines run for over two hours with a load that’s half the size of your weekly dirty laundry, that clothes air dry stiff and scratchy, that the emergency services all have a different phone numbers (the police have two), that tampons are made of cardboard, that alcohol can’t be sold after nine in grocery stores, that some coffee places don’t offer “take away,” that thunder is louder than Marist fire alarms and lasts just as long, and finally, that Clorox wipes are nowhere to be found.
It’s the unexpected things, like pigeons flying at your head out of the blue, which make you experience culture shock and feel a sense of homesickness for America. These adjustments are something that I’ll most likely get used to, but I must say that the time difference from home will always blow my mind. Twice so far I’ve wished my mom good morning as she wishes me good night. Being six hours ahead will never not be freaky. The time difference baffles me like the chicken and the egg theory, and I say now that I’ll never get over it, but I like to exaggerate. Though, it will probably take me a solid two months to stop comparing every hour what I would be doing in the U.S. at that moment. But, when all is said and done, the buildings, the views, the life, the beauty I’ve already experienced here in this first week make the adjustment completely worth it.