Thursday, May 7, 2015

Reverse Culture Shock

Now that we're back in the US for the summer, we're experiencing some reverse culture shock. We actually got used to the fact that in Italy there is no cheddar cheese, that everything in tiny - from the washing machine to the coffee cups - and that no one follows any driving rules. During our first week back in Colorado, we put together a list of the eight things that we immediately noticed about life in the US:

1. The roads are HUGE. Highways in Denver have five lanes and sometimes two lanes for merging, while the autostrada in Italy has two tiny lanes with tiny cars that go 150 mph. The cars here are so big and everyone is driving reallllllllly slowwwwwly.

2. The Parmesan cheese is terrible. We've struggled for three summers trying to find one that resembles anything close to what we're used to in Italy and doesn't cost 15 dollars.

3. When you go to a restaurant, the waiters are always there. In Italy, when you sit down at a restaurant, the waiter may not show up for 20 minutes. When they do get around to it, they take your order, bring your food and disappear for the rest of the night. You could sit at your table for hours and no one would bother you, as long as you had finished all of your food and had an espresso afterwards. In the US, the waiter is always right there, taking your drink order, then your food order, then asking if everything is okay, then double checking that everything is okay, then asking if you want the check, and then do you want change?

4. Now we have to tip. I suppose it's worth it since the waiters above are so attentive.

5. The produce is so good and so expensive. In Italy, we tend to eat seasonally and since we're there in the fall and winter, that means we eat a lot of squash and zucchini and fennel. In the US, you can get any vegetable at any time, and I noticed that since we've been back, we've been standing, staring, at the produce display at our local grocery store, looking at the wide array of  exotic things like limes and jalapenos and coconuts. Unfortunately, when you can get anything at any time, it usually comes from somewhere like Bali and it can get pricey. Once in Italy, I bought 7 different vegetables for a soup and my bill was 70 cents.

6. There is so much variety. These days, a trip to the grocery store takes me 2.5 hours because I have to inspect the 50,000 types of cereal and do I want green tea with pomegranate and melon or white tea with orange and lemon? Should I buy organic chicken or all-natural chicken or regular chicken and will I die if I don't eat organic chicken?! Do we like peanut butter or almond butter or cashew butter? Is it better to eat whole grain bread or 7 grain bread or 12 grain bread? And the coffee: light roast, dark roast, medium roast, medium-dark roast? Usually after the grocery store, I need to take a nap or drink a glass of wine.

7. But the wine is super expensive too....TEN DOLLARS is the cheapest bottle?!

8. Ryan keeps looking at the temperature in the car and thinking of it in terms of Celsius rather than Fahrenheit. For example yesterday we drove through a May snow storm (hello, Colorado) and when he looked to see how cold it was outside, he saw 37 degrees and wondered "how can it be snowing when it's 37 degrees out?!" For me, I keep thinking that we need adapters to plug things in. Our phone chargers suddenly got a lot lighter...