Sunday, July 6, 2014

Already Americanized?

  Hi,everyone! Today I'm writing this post from Italy, I'm here to renew my visa. Oh, yes, when you just think that you are done, suddenly all your documents need to be renewed. I want to share a personal experience regarding expat adjustment stages again. It's when you read something and you think: "Nope, it's not about me!". But then it all seems so true.
   Soon it will be 2 years that I am in the U.S. and I am currently in a gradual adjustment stage, which is characterized with some form of adjustment but still with cultural shock for a new environment (read more in our blog post). And being in the U.S., I always critisize some aspects of the American life. But going abroad again made me experience another kind of shock: missing lots of the American stuff. At the same level that I was complaining in the U.S., I am now complaining in Italy about some lack of American comfort, attitude, services, etc. That's it, I am already being Americanized. So I will tell you some things I really miss about America when abroad, so maybe next time you start complaining you will also find some positive sides.
 Access to public toilettes in touristic places. As stupid as it may sound, being a tourist even for just one day, I felt kind of discriminated being forced to pay for using bathroom facilities. It may seem reasonable in a train station (visiting lots of train station we all know how smelly these places can be), but after having paid the entrance ticket to a museum, I definitely didn't expect to pay additionally to enter the toilette. And speaking with my friend, who recently visited France, the situation is pretty much the same there.
   Arrows and information signs. In U.S. I smiled sometimes when there was an abundance of signs even when it seemed clear enough which direction to go in order to reach toilettes, exits, elevators, or cashiers. But abroad, even speaking decently enough in English and in the local language, I couldn't easily navigate myself following arrows in touristic places. I was trying to find my way without asking directions, but after 5 wasted minutes I gave up.
  Lanes and parking spaces. Believe me, I am not so bad with parking, but in Europe (while it probably gives additional charm to central little streets) even highway lanes now feel so narrow that my heart was jumping every time a car was passing us. From the very beginning, when we took our rental car from the parking lot in the airport, our driver needed to enter from the passenger side, because there was not enough space on the left of our car, and the parking sensors were screaming like crazy as soon as we turned our engine on. To get out of the parking, we needed to do back and forth at least 8 times, if you know what I mean. Even though I need to admit, roads are in much better conditions in Europe. All our tyres are safe after a whole week ;))
AC, airconditioning. I was unlucky to be out in the sun all day in Italy in July. Everybody knows that it is not the best period for being a tourist. I seriously missed AC in trains (at least some of them), subways, buses, some museums, etc. You would say I am spoiled and got used to ice in your drink without asking. Oh yes maybe I am, but I am originally from the north and when it's too hot my soul dies a little.
  We missed some other stuff as well. But it's more personal, as it can be personal to miss cheesesteak for a Philly guy. And we are totally happy to get full immersion into local culture and food, but we have to admit that in the city of brotherly love, we are heavily exposed to the American life. If you live in Philadelphia for a while, this city is already inevitably in your heart, and you will always miss something about it. So, whatever you do, whatever you face today, don't forget to appreciate the things you have, they may not be everywhere else in the world. And at the end of the day, don't you feel lucky to be an expat in the U.S.??
What about you? Americanized yet?