Well, it has been officially one week since arriving back in the USA. I would not say has been a super easy adjustment back to the USA after my semester abroad. We were warned by IES Abroad that many of us would experience culture shock coming back. I was a bit hesitant of that due to the fact I did not experience when I arrived in Germany, but I did experience it here too. Jet lag has also not been too friendly to me too, cause it always hits me harder when I go back to the states.
Well, I arrived back in the US on the 7th of August, where I was greeted by my family at the airport. Immediately it was weird cause I could understand 100% of all signs, peoples conversations, etc, and everyone had accents like me. This was not the only thing that has been a culture shock to me.
The top five culture shocks I have experienced since being home include.
1. Lack of Public Transportation
The lack of public transportation was something I knew before coming home, but I did not really process it until arriving back in the USA. Due to not having my own car, I rely on sharing with my parents, I had the culture shock of the lack of public transport. Where I am from in Iowa, cars are pretty much needed. Yes there is a bus, but it does not run very far in town, and not that often. In Germany, I relied on public transportation, and took it for granted, because I used it every day and sort of forgot about the fact that it is not as good in the USA.
2. Overly friendliness at Stores
Overly friendliness in stores and restaurants are another thing I noticed. The first time I went to a shopping center following arriving back in the USA I was amazed by how social the store workers are the shoppers. It seemed like every corner in every store someone was asking me if I needed help finding something. I did not realize how irritating it was until not having it for 6 months then coming back to it.
3. Tipping and Tax not included
Tipping and tax not being included were another culture shock. In Germany and Europe in general, tipping is not as much of a thing. In Germany, a 10% tip is considered polite, or even just an extra Euro or so, but in some European countries tipping is not expected at all. Coming to the USA this was quickly realized with the first restaurant I visited, where I had to put a tip onto my receipt. Another major culture shock is the fact that tax on items are not included in the price. Throughout euro, if something, say butter, for example, is 2 euros, then when you check out it will be that price. In the US it would be a little more than 2 euros because the tax is not included on the price tag.
4. Air Conditioning Everywhere.
While in Germany during the summer, not having air conditioning was difficult, but I did not imagine that it would be complicated in the opposite way too. After 6 months of living without air conditioning, including a few months with hot weather, coming back to air conditioning I was not used to it and was freezing everywhere I went.
5. Free refills and free water.
Free refills and free water were two things I definitely missed during my time abroad, but it was still weird coming back to it. The first restaurant I visited back home automatically placed a glass of water on my table. This water was free, and I could have as much as I wanted. The second restaurant I visited had free refills where I could drink as much soda as I wanted.
Being back home has been nice, but I definitely miss Germany and can not wait to go back.
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Hey I am Claire, and I am from Des Moines, Iowa. I am studying International Relations, Russian, and German. I am a Midwestern girl who loves to travel, and I can’t wait to see what adventures are ahead this semester.