Monday, June 13, 2011

Reverse Culture Shock

The main problem I have with the title is that it doesn’t really seem “shocking”. It’s actually very subtle. But it’s there, and I’m trying so hard to catch the nuances of it to share here.

For example: we’ve had a couple of kind of cold days here in Minnesota (super hot ones too since I’ve been back) but when you order a soda, servers still put ice in them! I could be sitting there shivering and I still get a drink with ice.

Sometimes I wonder why there is so much water in the toilet bowl, it’s totally unnecessary. Why do people drive during the day with their headlights on? I am still in wonder that I can get my vegetables weighed at the cashier and I don’t have to find someone in that produce department to weigh them (which I can never find anyway).

Christian culture is a little unfamiliar too: Prayer meetings are a little awkward because no one says “Amen” at the end of each person’s prayers. Not only are people not dancing in church but they aren’t even moving – even a little. Aren’t they happy to be singing praises to the Lord?

One thing that always does kind of shock me is the ride from the airport: I am asking myself, Where is everyone? If Hiawatha Ave was in Nairobi there would be people walking on the sides of the road, and probably down the middle too. Not only that but if you were stopped at an intersection there would be people trying to sell you fruit, sunglasses, car freshener, newspapers, bootlegged DVDs and so much more.

I keep thinking to myself, I’m different, can’t you people see? I’m really African and you should be explaining things to me here. There are moments in Kenya when I did actually forget that I wasn’t Kenyan, so it’s only natural that I will feel different here now. I’m sure I’ll soon get over it, but I don’t always want to.

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