Saturday, December 8, 2012

Culture Shock in Reverse

Today we watched a Christmas movie, and I experienced a really weird sort of reverse culture shock. An American grocery store looked foreign to me, as did a typical American neighborhood, American cars, and a shopping mall.

I spent most of my life in the United States, and after two and half years in France, I don't remember what a ten dollar bill looks like. The other day we had a conversation about American Speed Limit signs because I couldn't picture one in my head. And would someone please remind me how much a US postage stamp costs?

There are moments when I still feel like a complete stranger here, but I did not expect to ever feel that in relation to the US. Sometimes I struggle to pray out loud in English. Sometimes I can't remember how to spell English words, even though I used to be a good speller. Sometimes I dream that I am in Spokane speaking French and I can't figure out why nobody understands what I am saying. What does that mean?

My food preferences have certainly taken a turn towards the French. For example, it seems scandalous to drink a soft drink at dinner instead of wine and it feels downright wrong to have a meal without a baguette. I love that cheese gets its own course and I appreciate delicacies like foie gras. Paté is a staple in my refrigerator and I can't imagine living without cornichons or lardons.

On the other hand--I am deeply grateful for the 96 full-sized candy canes that my in-laws brought to us. Candy canes! My American soul sings for joy with each peppermint stick. There I found it--a deep connection to my roots in the sugary Christmas confection that I adore. I am still an American after all!

***Photos of Loches were taken by my dear MIL, Janica Williamson!

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