There’s always a few things which require a little readjustment whenever I go back to Florida for a visit. When you live in a place, you don’t notice some things about your culture because they’re just normal. But when you go back after being away, those differences become loud and clear.
Service. Seriously. People are almost too nice, you know? I’m not good at those fake conversations with waiters and sales clerks anymore. What have I become?? After about a week though I get used to it again and even like it. It’s pleasant even if it’s fake. But honestly, I think it’s genuine most of the time. People here just try to make you feel good at a store or wherever, which is a refreshing change from the “what the fuck do you want?” look you often get in Poland.
People are large. Large and in charge. I know it’s totally stereotype, but with the statistics that 1/3 Americans is obese, this is one of those that’s true. People in America are fatter than in Europe. There, I said it. But not just fatter. People are morbidly obese here. It’s scary. We noticed an interesting difference between eating habits. We’d go to eat at Subway when we were out and desperate to eat something and we’d just take subs. Everyone else would take a sandwich, drink, chips and a cookie. That’s pretty representative of the difference. I have to include myself a little bit in this though cause I always fly back with a few extra kilos, for real.
Traffic. Holy mother of god. Orlando has the worst traffic. In America, pretty much everyone has a car because it’s rather affordable. In Poland, you have some bad traffic through the city center but on the highway? Only at tolls in the summer. In Orlando you could be stopped on a 4-lane highway at 12 pm on a Sunday. And rush “hour” is from 3 to 6 pm on weekdays. I honestly don’t know how they deal with it everyday. I’d rip my hair out.
Understanding people’s conversations. I thought I’d be happy to understand what everyone was saying with ease. I was wrong. When the background noise becomes words which you can process without trying, you become irritated more quickly – especially when the conversation is asinine – and it usually is.
My accent. Apparently, according to my friends, my accent and way of speaking has changed. This isn’t really terribly surprising as I already kind of new that. It’s not the first time I’ve heard it but it does make me feel a little weird. They tell me that I enunciate every word perfectly and make little pauses between some words and sentences. But you have to understand, I speak primarily with my students and other ESOL speakers so of course I don’t talk to them like I talk to someone here. I think that would be unfair. You might call me a bad teacher for that but I would like people to understand me and feel comfortable with me. For sure I speak differently around my friends and family and I know that it would just take a few weeks here to revert back to my original accent if so. I wonder if any other expats have experienced this??
Overall, it was a great trip. Now I’m in the Orlando airport waiting for my return flight back to Poland. It’s always a little sad, especially to leave my family again. After being in sunny, warm Florida for two weeks, the culture shock will be much worse the other direction! Masakra.
Do zobaczenia, USA!