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Reverse culture shock

05/21/2011

It’s so interesting how you can pick up mannerisms, habits, and attitudes from another culture and make them your own (naturally, it happens a lot faster when you’re actually living in a foreign country). When I get back to the States, I know the following things will happen at least once:

  • I will freak out a male friend by greeting him with a kiss on the cheek.
  • I will get strange looks when I bring a thermos and mate to class.
  • I will say “chao” instead of “bye.”
  • I will cause a heated argument by referring to the US as an imperialist power.
  • I will try to explain the dynamics of Argentine fútbol by comparing Boca Juniors to the Red Sox and River Plate to the Yankees.
  • I will feel cold and get up to light the gas estufa, only to remember I have central heat.
  • At 2 AM on a Friday, I will try to convince people that the night has only just begun.
  • When I bump into someone accidentally, I will say “perdón.”
  • In classic Argentine style, I will communicate that “I have no idea” by flicking my hand under my chin, unintentionally pissing off a person of Italian ancestry in the process.

No, Tony, I'm not flipping you off. I'm just saying I haven't the slightest clue why you aren't extremely offended by Jersey Shore.

  • For a brief second, I will wonder why there are no Spanish subtitles on TNT’s showing of “Men in Black.”
  • I will remember (too late) that I don’t have to flag down a city bus in the US to get it to stop for me.
  • I will no longer be afraid of American cops, having realized that 95% of them are honest (instead of the reverse being true).
  • I will make up new political/ideological movements by adding “-ismo” to the end of a person’s name or concept. (ex. Obamanismo)
  • I will never casually refer to a person I can’t find as having “disappeared.”
  • I will ask the guy in charge of the music at a party if he has any cumbia songs. I will be disappointed.
  • I will wince when someone mispronounces a Spanish word or name.
  • A one-hour wait at the DMV will seem like five minutes by comparison. On a related note, government and university bureaucracy will seem refreshingly efficient.
  • I will be pleasantly surprised after an hour of hanging out at a friend’s house that no one has stepped outside to smoke.
  • A Spanish professor will raise an eyebrow and correct me when I address a classmate as “vos.”
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