Wednesday, March 14, 2007
After taking planes, trains, and automobiles for the past 24 hours, I am finally back from my trip to California. The weather was gorgeous- even in the typically foggy Sunset district, it was 75 degrees and sunny, which made the circumstances under which I had to come back slightly better. There was a large turnout of family, friends, and Buddhist monks for my grandmother's funeral and we are now all at peace with her passing.
It was a week of mom's Chinese food, Peet's coffee, fish tacos and enchiladas, big juicy bacon avocado burgers, driving with the sunroof down, huge SUVs and even bigger supermarkets and parking lots, t-shirts, flushing toilets, massages, fresh fruit, cable cars, seeing my tiny niece and family, hanging out with friends, and warm evenings on the patio....
However, I did experience some reverse culture shock:
#1: Everyone in America was so ANGRY!!!! People just seemed to have these impatient angry responses if they didn't get what they wanted immediately- from a glass of water at a restaurant to having a misunderstanding with someone on the phone to waiting in a long line. It was like everyone just thought the other person was out to get them- and they would harshly beat them to the punch. I suppose this is how America got to be so sue-happy. I was shocked at how people just didn't seem to care about their jobs, there was this feeling of "sure, whatever" wherever I went. My mom mentioned that, if anything, going to Japan has definitely mellowed me out- I was smiling and polite to everyone, and even bowing to people.
#2: Everything in America is HUGE!!!! People, cars, roads, homes, food portions, packaging... I forgot about the scale of everything, family-sized packs of cereal, raised counter top heights, overstuffed couches, and the huge shopping carts!
It was pretty hard to imagine my little cot in my little damp, cold apartment. But this morning, I woke up to a chilly sunrise, rode my bike to school with the fresh breeze on my face, saw the cheerful smiles on my students' faces, and remembered why I was here. Hopefully it will start to get a little warmer. I only have 4 1/2 months left to enjoy my time here!