After 9 months away from the Garden State, I came to realize just how much living the “ex-pat” lifestyle has altered my views and behaviors. I remember from my time abroad during my undergraduate experience, something our professors called “reverse culture shock” or when someone lives away from his “home” culture for a semester or any given amount of time and upon return makes realizations in the variations of lifestyle, culture, etc. While in England, time didn’t seem like it had changed me much, but what I didn’t know until now was: “time can change me, but I can’t change time.”
Road etiquette: From my teacher driving days, I found myself cursing people off in my car with music blasting and ready to have anyone eat my car’s dust. Traffic lights pissed me off, people from out of state pissed me off, even something as small as not signaling at an intersection could have me flying off the handle. What England has taught me is to have a little more patience, especially considering how many elderly people still drive in my immediate vicinity.
One of our regulars at the coffee shop actually passed away less than a week ago. While in his vehicle, the medical reports mentioned him having some sort of heart attack of sorts, which led to him crashing into a tree and killing his dog as well. It seemed like yesterday I was opening his can of lemon Fanta for him, due to weakness in his arm, and now he’s gone. I never really got to grow up that close to my grandparents and now that I’m serving older people on the regular; I’m learning more and more the value of time and how little of it we really have on this Earth.
Apologizing: I guess I picked up this habit from working in a coffee shop where I’ve committed my share of drink blunders: not steaming milk hot enough, too much water, not enough water, forgetting to add sugar to take-away tea. I found myself apologizing a lot when I returned home, from my visit to Target, walking into people, bumping someone at the dinner table. I guess it’s good to be considerate, but when coming back to a country where people don’t apologize as much, I became much more self-conscious about it.
Recycling policies: After hitting up Target for some home essentials and trying to cram everything back into my suitcase, I found myself not knowing what to do with trash which I would typically recycle in England. At Willow Cottage, we have three bins: one for organics, one for plastics/ cardboard and one for trash that doesn’t apply to either of the previous two. In NJ however, we’re not that big on recycling, maybe aluminium or plastic but most things fall into the “trash” category. Being abroad has definitely made me more aware of my carbon footprint, definitely want to bring that home with me and carry it on to our next place as well.
Also England is big on thrifting old things, repairing it to make it like new again. I wish that thrift store could be as omnipresent to encourage people to donate things they don’t need. I’m trying more and more to become minimalist, don’t know if I’ll ever be able to commit to it fully, but I am trying to be more aware of things we have in our house. It helps to keep things more organized, having less stuff and I like the idea of getting rid of something old if I’m going to pick up something new. It’s a work in progress but I think Americans would definitely waste less if we encourage a thrifting culture.
Also here’s a picture I got of my sister graduating from college and meeting up with some friends at Happy Hour. Oh and of course, random food we had.
Ta-ta for now,
the tan bunny ❤