Our trip back to America has been short and very sweet. Despite that we’ve only had four weeks, this has been one of our nicer trips back. The weather has been delightful, everybody is healthy, and we’ve really had a lot of time with our parents and family. My brother got married, Eli has been so smiley and happy, and it’s just been a great little vacation for us.
Whenever we come back to America people always ask us if we experience any culture shock or if it’s difficult to readjust. Honestly, this time around it hasn’t been that bad. Maybe it’s because this is the third time we’ve ‘visited’ and by now we know kind of what to expect. We were also here only 9 months ago so Indonesian culture hasn’t had as much time to soak into our blood. Our memories of living here recently (for Eli’s birth) are still pretty fresh. Time spent away makes a big difference with the ‘shock’ factor and we haven’t been away long.
If you speak English than we immediately have something HUGE in common!
That being said though we do notice new things every time we’re here. One thing, for example, is that all of a sudden I find it so easy to talk to people again. It’s been so effortless to engage people in conversation. I find myself gladly talking to random people in grocery stores, at church, the gas station, standing in line. . . This is new for me. I’m not normally an outgoing person. But I’ve enjoyed the ease of it all. I’m not intimidated to talk to anyone and no social encounter seems too difficult! If you speak English than we immediately have something HUGE in common! The topic of conversation might lose me (like the latest Tv shows and current events), but I find myself comfortable talking with just about anyone. Contrast this to what we’re used to in Indonesia. We’ve been there for almost five years and there’s still a struggle to understand and be understood. We’ve made significant progress in learning two languages, but it’s still difficult. It helps when we can control the topic of conversation or can steer it back to things we have the vocabulary for. But this naturally limits the scope of what we talk about. That’s why I feel so free and at ease with conversation here in the States. There’s enjoyment in talking because it’s so effortless. What a relief!
The other thing I’ve noticed the last couple weeks is the immense diversity we have here in the States. I always thought Indonesia was such a diverse place, and indeed it is. But we’re pretty diverse here too. I noticed this immediately upon arriving in the Chicago O’Hare airport. Looking around the terminal were people of all shapes and sizes! Tall people, short people, fat people, thin people. Black, white, and dark. People with mustaches, people with beards. People with dyed hair, people with NO hair. Asians, Hispanic, African, European. . . people from all over the world. The style of dress was all over the place too. All the way from business suits and jilbabs, to skimpy skirts and tank tops. Incredible diversity we have here. America really is a melting pot of cultures.
There’s an organized group for just about anything you want to be involved in. This doesn’t exist in other parts of the world.
I’ve also been struck with the diversity of opportunity here too. Not just the people, but the things we have and can do is wide and broad. America still is (in my opinion) the land of opportunity. Especially when you compare it to other countries. Goods and, especially, services are abundant. Organizations, sports, music, clubs, hobbies, etc. You can do art, or music, or sports. . . there’s an organized group for just about anything you want to be involved in. This doesn’t exist in other parts of the world. Or if it does it’s much more limited. They don’t have the same opportunities overseas that we have here. That’s one of the nicest things about America. If you want to pursue something, you still can.
These are a couple things I’ve noticed about America this time around. Having lived overseas has really made me appreciate these little things about the land of my birth. And I think the experiences I’ve had overseas and the people I’ve met have already changed me for the better.