Thursday, July 03, 2008

Notes from the Homeland

It is a very strange experience to live abroad and return home to visit. Home for me is a western suburb of Chicago. Here are the major impressions on my 10-day trip thus far:

1. Could not understand my first greeter upon arrival--the passport control man. He spoke terrible English and I kept having to say, "I'm sorry," after not understanding him. It didn't help that he also spoke with a toothpick in his mouth.

2. Dirty, smelly airport. Could only use 1 of 3 stalls in women's bathroom. After "set your bag on the bathroom floor" disgustingly clean Switzerland, this was quite a shock.

3. People saying "good morning" and looking me in the eye when passing while taking walks along the river. They generally looked happy. This was shocking after training myself in Switzerland to never look at people and not to smile.

4. Cheap stuff. Corn is 19 cents an ear. Wow. (In Switzerland an ear costs anywhere from 1.50 to 3.00)

5. Tax that's added after the fact so final prices are strange, like $6.44. (In Switzerland every price ends with a 0 or 5. (There's no such thing as a penny, the Swiss are too rich to bother with that).

6. Books in English. Everywhere and in great quantity. A library where I can read everything and actually look up things and research my writing markets. How great.

7. Vending machines with large drinks that are only 1.25.

8. Cold drinks. Root beer. Cherry Coke. Free water with ice.

9. Friendly dentists that try to find out your life story, even with their hand in your mouth.

10. A grocery store with a produce section that's the size of an entire Swiss grocery store. Carts that are twice as wide and no need for a dollar deposit coin to use them.

11. Lack of environmental concern--stores blasting A/C with their doors wide open, little use of shades to block sun, abundance of free bags at grocery store and baggers to pack your stuff.

12. Processed food in great abundance, huge portions, greasy food.

13. Trying to pretend I live a normal life with my hairdresser as to not complicate matters by discussing overseas living.

14. Huge green lawns. Houses that look ridiculous they are so large.

15. Bottomless, cold drinks. Sigh.

And I'm sure, more to come.


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