Travel

Back in the USA : Reverse Culture Shock and Home Comforts

I never understood the French's concern and distain for air-conditioning. Yes, I understand that maybe it's not very eco-friendly, but I shouldn't be sweating indoors! Then somehow after June's canicule I got used to fans and accepted the sweat.

 

After spending a year in Paris to complete my master’s in French, I’m finally back in the USA for a month to relax and catch up with my state-side friends and family. After that I’m headed to the Côte d’Azur to teach one more week of English Camp, then I’m off to Perpignan to begin my next adventure as a lectrice d’anglais. After a week of being back in my motherland aka my grandparents’ house in New England, I’ve experienced some cultural differences that I forgot existed while living in France. I’ve also had the pleasure of enjoying the little things that might not be that important in reality, but are just delightful for the sake of being delightful.

AC

I never understood the French’s concern and distain for air-conditioning. Yes, I understand that maybe it’s not very eco-friendly, but I shouldn’t be sweating indoors! Then somehow after June’s canicule I got used to fans and accepted the sweat. I also didn’t understand their fear of getting sick becuase of the dust or whatever, that it until I got sick myself. In Italy it was so hot outside and then there was AC in some places and the shock from the extreme temperatures paired with the dry air from the AC actually gave me a cold! Then, when I got back to the US, I found myself wearing a sweater inside because it was so cold! The grocery store is the worst when it comes to AC. It felt like my legs were going to freeze off…

Robots in the Grocery Store

Speaking of the grocery store, I was shocked to see a robot roaming around the Stop and Shop. Apparently it’s there to monitor spills and and other safety hazards.

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The dump

Everybody loves the dump. Got stuff you don’t need? Take it to the dump? Looking for a bargain or a hidden treasure? Look no further than the town dump!

Big Quiet Roads

After living on a busy street in Paris, the streets in the suburbs sound awfully quiet without zooming motocycles.

Driving Everywhere

Cars are convenient, but I miss being able to walk or hop on the metro to get wherever I need to go.

Trees and Grass

So many trees and so much farmland everywhere! I can’t walk to the store, but it’s lovely being able to take a walk around a reservoir, in the woods, or by a farm. Also, though not very sustainable, there’s nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass in a big backyard.

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T-Shirts and Flip-Flops

Americans are much more casual than Parisians. I went to a local free concert in town the other evening and everyone was wearing t-shirts, flip-flops and jorts, save for a few moms in sundresses. If we were in Paris, people would be wearing maxi-dresses and sandals or a nice t-shirt, blouse or button down with jeans and their Stan Smith’s of course.

Strangers Making Small Talk

It’s nice and kinda funny when old ladies shake your hand or a random lady in the bathroom tells you about her allergies.

The Family Dog

Just look at her!

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Follow Bay on Instagram @baythedog

Food

Most of my reverse culture shock and comforts revolve around food, probably because it’s so important in both French and American cultures.

  • Huge restaurants

Maybe I’m used to small Parisian bistrots by now, but wow some restaurants I’ve seen back in the US are sooo spacious!

  • Huge Portion sizes

I thought people were exaggerating when they would make jokes about portion sizes in the US. I guess I had just forgotten.

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This is supposed to be one scoop…
  • Ice

Okay, so they do have ice in France sometimes, but here they use sooo much of it!

  • Sugary Food

I ate a mini-cupcake the other day and that was all I could handle. I love dessert, but I don’t want to be sugar-punched in face. You know what I mean?

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American Versions of French Pastries
  • Corn on the Cob

Do French people eat corn on the cob? I’ve had so much fresh local corn on the cob here, I’m probably going to have the little corn pieces permanently stuck between my teeth.

  • Grammie’s Baking

Blueberry crumble? Strawberry rhubarb pie? Yes, please! I’ll start running again when I move back to France…

 

  • Vegan Food

Yes, France has vegan food, but it’s not as good as the stuff you can get here. I’m still just a vegetarian, but in the US, I love to indulge on vegan goodies when I have the opportunity!

 

  • Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

France has potato chips too, but I haven’t been able to find the thick, crispy kettle-cooked New England Style, so I’m gonna enjoy them while I can! The Tyrell’s English Style Crisps are close, but don’t quite cut it.

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Any other expats experience reverse culture shock or have things they miss about home? What about those of you who have traveled to France? Did you experience any culture shock?

Bisous,

Cam

4 comments

  1. Like you, I experienced MASSIVE reverse culture shock when I returned to the U.S. A few that really shocked me were 1) needing to drive EVERYWHERE (especially in L.A.), 2) sales taxes never being included on the price tag, 3) tipping culture, 4) getting carded everywhere for alcohol, and 5) blinding-white smiles all the time. Some aren’t bad, but just surprising to come back to! Enjoy your summer in the States!

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  2. Welcome back to the USA Camden and congratulations on your Masters Degree. Enjooy the best of both worlds and continuing adventures!
    Uncle Denny

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  3. Reverse culture shock is actually the worst, haha. But we have so much space here in the USA. One thing I noticed about France is that people don’t travel in large social groups like they do in the states. It’s virtually impossible for a group of 5 or 6 people to just walk up to a French restaurant and expect to be seated without a reservation. And is it me or do the sidewalks themselves feel wider here?

    By the way, I also have a few blog posts you may be interested in:
    This one about my own reverse culture shock: https://lowlifetravel.wordpress.com/2019/09/30/more-about-my-low-life/
    And this one on Parisian Small Talk: https://lowlifetravel.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/some-random-things-i-cant-understand-about-the-places-ive-lived-on-parisian-small-talk/

    Liked by 1 person

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