My professor, Sally Ochoa, (who I still refer to as "my professor" in general conversation) has lived in Mexico, off and on, for about 50 years now (I believe). I remember in class when we were talking about culture shock and we asked her if she still got culture shock (at the time, she was spending 6 months in Mexico and 6 months in the US). She said that upon returning to Mexico, it always took her a few days to adjust. But she declared that she never experience culture shock upon returning to the US.
I don't know that what I experience is "culture shock" per se, but when I come back from being in Mexico for a very extended amount of time (like this past year), I do need a few days of adjustment. So, this week, I may be continually adding to this post for things that I notice that seem a bit odd about my own culture. It rather amuses me that I can see my own culture from a bit of a outsider's perspective, if only for a few days or hours.
- Walking through Kroger's today, I was overwhelmed by all the choices there are. Many people have noted this about US supermarkets. Now, Mexican grocery stores give their customers plenty of choice, too. But choosing between 52 different brands of vegetable oil that don't seem to have any distinction from any other brand besides maybe the price isn't quite the same as the choices I was faced with today. Here, in salad dressing aisle alone (which was fascinating, as Mexican grocery stores have very slim pickings for salad dressing) there are not only choices between which flavor of salad dressing. If I decided I wanted Ranch, I'd then have to decide if I wanted regular ranch, low-fat ranch, no-fat ranch, low-carb ranch, spicy ranch, organic ranch, honey dijon ranch, lactose-free ranch, robust ranch, peanut-free ranch . . . good heavens!
- Drivers seem perpetually distracted or simply like they're not paying that much attention. Is it because it's just too easy to drive in this country? After all, in this country, the roads are often beautifully paved, wonderfully wide, people follow the rules of traffic by and large, there aren't pedestrians to contend with, signs are posted, streets are labeled, people generally don't leave their dogs/goats/cows/horses to graze on the side of the road (which then accidentally wander onto the road). When driving in Mexico, is it just that it's simply necessary to be so hyper-vigilant all the time that drivers in the US appear (or are) negligent in their responsibilities of paying attention? Hmm . . .
- Everyone seems old (like senior citizen old). Maybe it's just my neighborhood. Maybe it's just that I was out at 1:30 in the afternoon. Regardless, the average age of the population that was out and about this afternoon where I was was CONSIDERABLY older than those I'd meet in my neighborhood at the same time of day in Mexico. (But, my older US neighbors, you also look a good deal better than your Mexican counterparts.)
- But, unlike my well-dressed older neighbors here, I remember last year being very unimpressed with the gringos that I met in the Mexico City airport, on their way back to the US. They were often wearing T-shirts, shorts, sandals, sweat pants . . . one woman was even in her pajamas! Pajamas--seriously?!? In public?!? Even people begging on the street in Mexico get more dressed up to beg than these people did to fly internationally. Where is our sense of pride in ourselves? (Again, this is a generational thing, as most gringo seniors do a nice job of making themselves presentable when they step out their front doors. May the rest of the country grow up soon!)
This list may get added to later in the week. But for now, it's time to go to bed! Good night!