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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Foreigner at "Home"

Being back in the US is always weird and wonderful.  I feel quite at home in many ways, but in other ways, things seem strange to me and I don't always feel confident that I know how certain things work.  It's a weird feeling to be in one's home country yet also have feelings of being a foreigner.
So for example, I love grocery shopping here but also feel totally overwhelmed and sometimes a bit sickened by the prolific amount of food, brands and choices that are available on the shelf.  I'm not entirely sure how to use the credit card machine upon check-out and I forget that they bag your groceries for you in most American supermarkets! It takes me forever to buy groceries because I have no idea how the stores are set up and I find myself scanning the shelves, often with my jaw dropped open, trying to navigate the number of choices that sit before me.
I'm utterly unfamiliar with the lingo that is needed for today's modern coffee shop so I usually just end up saying I'd like the smallest cup of the darkest roast you have.  A small here is usually quite large.
I was trying to put gas in the car the other day and could not figure out how to use the automatic pay machine.  After watching someone else use the machine and proceed to pour gas into their car, I quickly drove to the same spot and followed exactly in her footsteps.  I successfully filled my tank!
And I've been totally overwhelmed by the Halloween displays, candy offers, costumes, decorations, etc. in every store I've been into!  I have also seen quite a lot of Christmas stuff already and that just seems WRONG.  
And yet...I still feel more at home in the US than I do in Sweden in many ways.  The stores are familiar.  I know where to get things without wondering if a certain store will carry it or not, and I do love browsing around stores like Target and WalMart.  So much stuff to buy...too much really, but it's amazing how you can get caught up in the goods and their low prices.  Now that the airlines have put the kabosh on luggage, I really have to think twice about what to carry back to Sweden.  Even so, there are certain things like chocolate chips, brownie mix and ziploc bags that help me feel more at home in Sweden when I'm longing for a bit of the US.