Sunday, July 19, 2015

Things That Have Surprised Me About America

As Ireland is pretty similar to the U.S. in most respects, adjusting to the home front hasn't been the massive reverse culture shock it was last time. However, because they're so similar, the differences I have noticed have been all the more striking for being unexpected. A brief list:

  1. Climate/control: Having spent the last two years in a place where the temperature difference between a winter's night and a summer's day just really isn't that big, now being back in Texas I am constantly finding myself too hot or too cold. Of course I had expected to melt under the unaccustomed sweaty heat of a Texas summer, but I did not expect to be so thrown off by the arctic blast of the air conditioning employed to combat it. 
  2. Free samples at grocery stores: I remembered that American grocery stores are much, much larger and more intensely stocked than their Irish counterparts, but the smorgasbord of free samples completely slipped my mind. And not just plastic trays of cubes of cantaloupe with toothpicks, but chips and salsa tasting bars and vendor reps passing out hot sausages  and sliders and doing "cooking" demonstrations to sell this, that, or the other consumer product. (Also, bags are free and people will put your groceries in the bags for you!)
  3. Stop signs: Granted, I never did that much driving in Ireland, but I don't remember there being so many stop signs all over the place. There were yield signs for when a small road met a bigger road and roundabouts for a meeting of equals. Now driving around in the suburbs I keep being ambushed by 4-way stop signs in places one (or at least I) wouldn't expect them to be. I may have accidentally missed one or two here and there. Oops. 
  4. The Internet: Yes, they have internet in Ireland, but it's not quite as developed there. Yelp is nowhere near as comprehensive and Dublin *just* got OpenTable. Now I come home to find that stores will email your receipts to you instead of printing them, you can buy coffee with your phone, and smart appliances are not just in Popular Science but possibly coming soon to my parents' house. It's like the future!*
  5. Mosquitoes: ITCHY! Time to make bug spray a habit again. 



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