Thursday, February 17, 2011

Culture shock

These were all going to be expanded, but I got lazy. Maybe I'll revisit to explain what they mean, but I think most people who have lived abroad will understand.

College logos
Understanding everything
Drivers are not crazy
Shoes in the house
Clean outside
Everything is paved over
street lights
no idea how to use smart phones
not washing dishes by hand
Newspapers delivered
my family does not own a tea pot and had to borrow a kettle
no tea time
ceiling fans
our table is a mess and stays that way
soda, lots of soda
beer. tasty beer.
dilemma over where the toilet paper goes
light switches look funny but are well-placed
people are friendly. airport stewardesses, waffle house people, everyone
american barbershops
no gates around houses
round the clock news
rocking chairs
remembering what it's like, and not really wanting it. but maybe that will change
exercise equipment in our house

Saturday, February 5, 2011


So I'm home. Finally. It was a long trip made even longer by a delay in DC. I was supposed to go Almaty-Frankfurt-DC-Savannah. But instead we went Almaty - Astana (but we didn't get off the plane) - Frankfurt (6 hours) - Washington... So in Washington we got in 15 minutes late which made my hour and half scheduled flight very unlikely. Compounded by the fact that the woman in Almaty only checked my baggage through to DC instead of to Jacksonville (meaning I had to go recheck my bags and go back through security) and it was likely that I would not be making my flight.

Despite this, I was giddy when I landed. I saw the flag as I was landing and tears almost came to my eyes. Two years and five months. I swear the ground just felt sturdier walking on Ameican soil. I was home.

I cleared immigration really quickly, but I was flagged for customs because I was bringing in horse meat. At customs, they just asked me what I was bringing in. I said horse meat in cans. They check the computer. Nope, no current regulations due to equine flu. Horse meat allowed! I only have two cans though, so I don't know whom to share it with.

Now I have to recheck my bag, and my flight boards in about five minutes. The woman at that desk is honest with me. It looks like they've rebooked me and I have to get tickets for tomorrow morning. I go up to the ticketing booth considering how I'll contact Brian to see if I can crash at his place for the night, when I meet an angel at the ticket counter. She looks at my trip and says maybe, maybe she can get me home tonight if I'm ready to travel. DC - Cincinnati - Charlotte - Savannah. I'll be home at 11:30. If there's one thing I'm bad at doing, it's not doing anything. If given the chance of just sitting and waiting or doing something, I'm always doing something. Plus, I wanted to get home. She booked me tickets and I was off on my way.

Once I got to the gate, I borrowed someone's phone to call my family. I had asked a couple earlier just when we got off the Frankfurt flight, but they also didn't have a local phone. They recommended I just dial the country code or something on my phone. Right, that'd be great if I get Beeline signal here. So I called the house. Or tried to. The phone the guy handed me was an Android touch phone thing. I had no idea how to turn it on. Wouldn't just touching the screen make sense? Nooo, you had to press some switch on top. So he turned it on for me and I called home. No answer. Did they already leave? Call the cell phone. No answer. I leave a voice mail. And then continue on my journey.

Cincinnati (where I eat a sandwich, first meal in America Roast Beef vegetable sandwich (DELICIOUS. Sandwiches are amazing.)), then Charlotte (with rocking chairs. As I was racing through the airport, I had to sit down in one for just a few seconds. WHY are these not in Kazakhstan. People there would love them, I'm pretty sure.) In Charlotte, I call home and talk to my mom. I find out she didn't get my voice mail until after my first flight landed. So they were waiting there and really sad when I didn't get off the plane. She still didn't call the voice mail, but she did notice a missed call from a random number. So she called the guy whose phone I used and he told her that her son was flying around the country trying to get home tonight.

Then finally, the final flight. 32 hours later I was home. Home! My mom was holding a sign and I almost cried. Home! Home! Home! And even one of my bags made it on time (but not the one with the horse meat). The steak dinner I requested was not fulfilled (yet), so I was given to choices: Waffle House or Krystal. Since my family admitted to eating Krystal on the way back from the airport the first time (without me?! what?), we went to Waffle House. Sweet tea, waffle, and hash browns (smothered, covered, diced, and peppered).

Tomorrow I'll blog about reverse culture shock. It's so happening to me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So I'm going back to America in a day. For a six week vacation. I haven't been home in two years, five months, and maybe 2 weeks. It's been a long time. For the past two weeks (maybe longer), this is pretty much all I could think about. Well this, and a ton of projects at work that I just finished. Or mostly finished.
I'm excited. I'm nervous. I can't wait to be home and see family and friends. I've also picked the Packers for the Super Bowl. I hope to see everyone back home if I can. I'll probably catch up on my blog while I'm at home, but who knows?