People have asked quite a bit what the hardest, most shocking thing is about moving back to to the US.
Hands down, it’s the driving.
People in the US drive monster vehicles at high speeds. Obviously, a lot of people die on the roads every year because of this – last stat I read said somewhere around 1 in every one hundred people in the US will die in a car accident in their lifetime. Around 30,000 people die every year on US roads.
So coming back into this system from one of very safe, smooth, punctual public transit has been a bit jolting.
The theory seems to go that the bigger the car the better – so here in Texas, no joke some cars are the size of small houses in some places in Asia. Semi-trucks are bigger than a lot of people’s homes! It’s scary. Because those houses-on-wheels go hurtling down the highways at 80mph.
You get lost easily, because roads are not generally pre-planned. It’s more like the city expanded, so they had to build more roads, sort of haphazardly all over the place – but they don’t connect very well, so its really hard to get anywhere. SIRI on the iPhone is constantly telling us where to go – but apparently half the time she has no idea where she is either. So you just waste a lot of time being lost. It’s just something you resign yourself to.
My husband has told me I need to stop screaming while he is driving in the US. But it’s scary when those houses-on-wheels look like they are about to hit you! I probably scream a little every time we go anywhere. Drivers text. They talk on their phones. They are distracted. They are drunk. They are SIXTEEN (who thought that was a good idea?!). They are playing candy crush while watching a football game. I’ve seen a couple reading. Not that they aren’t distracted elsewhere, but in Japan and China with subways and trains you just don’t have to deal with it as much.
And the traffic – seriously I just keep thinking of Jakarta. I am not sure how else to describe it – but if you have ever been to Jakarta, Indonesia and then driven in Houston, (minus the monster F-150′s that like to terrorize the roads in Texas……and the houses on wheels and the semis – okay the only thing the same is how bad the traffic is) they are pretty much the same. The same smell. The same crawl. The same angry people. The same insane drivers. The same shoddily patched potholes.
So there, its out. Now I can move on to other things – things I enjoy and appreciate. But for all those who were wondering, for me, this is it. That is my number one biggest culture shock. If you have reentered from abroad what was your biggest shock?