Reverse Culture Shock: 8 Things That Are Irritating Me Since I Left France

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Most of the time, I hear people talking about going into “culture shock” when they arrive in a foreign country.  For me, when I left France, the culture shock that I experienced was the shock of returning to the United States.  There are so many things here now that never really irritated me before, but they feel like nails on a blackboard now:

  • Drivers who are sitting in the fast lane!  My anger is specifically aimed at those that refuse to move over when someone comes up behind them.Yes, Irritating Guy this afternoon that almost caused my meltdown, I am talking to you!  Move your @ss over!When you are driving in France, the passing lane is treated as a privileged place for the few, not the many.  One should ONLY enter the passing lane after a careful check to make sure that you are not cutting anyone off and only for the express purpose of passing another car.
  • The lack of a boulangerie on every block: If you have never been to France, I can tell you that the bread and pastries are phenomenal!  Since my return, I have decided that this is a travesty and something must be done…I want my baguette and I want it NOW!
Shanna and the baguette in front of Notre Dame

Shanna with a baguette in front of Notre Dame (one of the staple food groups in France)

  • Since my return to my real life, I also find myself particularly sensitive to loud, obnoxious voices. My return to the United States made me realize that French people are much quieter than we are.  Even a full subway car in Paris is somehow not loud.  Shhhh, stereotypical loud travelers, I am talking to you!  If you quiet down enough to pay attention to what is going on around you, you might learn something amazing!
  •  Too many big trucks and not enough Turbo Diesels:  Seriously, we have a real addiction to unnecessarily large vehicles in the US.  I can count on one hand the number of pickup trucks that I saw during an entire week in France (and most of them were being used for work or hauling something).
  • The lack of a bidet:  I got brave this time.  After my positive toilet experience in Japan, I decided to give the bidet a go on this trip and I am not ashamed to say that I am now a huge fan of the bidet.  Any bathroom without one is now seen as lacking in my eyes.

Bidet in France

  •  The selfish people on escalators and moving walkways:  If this offends anyone…well I  can’t say that I am sorry because I am not.I have firmly decided that people who won’t stay to one side on escalators and moving walkways are exhibiting blatant selfishness and lack of regard for others and if you are one of these people, you should be ashamed.  Stay to one side.  Not that complicated.
A moving walkway at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Roundabouts: After driving many miles in a few different countries, I have come to the conclusion that roundabouts are the single most efficient way of keeping large numbers of cars moving speedily towards their destinations.  More going, less stopping=good for everybody involved.Many thanks to my ever patient brother in law who helped me to refine my roundabout negotiating skills on this trip, by the end I was zipping around like a pro and loving it!  Key points that US drivers need to learn about roundabouts.  If there is no one coming, do not stop.  Also, it is polite to signal your exit of the roundabout so that other entering know that they do not need to stop to enter.

 



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  • The profound lack of “Bonjour” and “Merci” (or at least their US equivalents):  In France, I think that you cannot help but be struck by the increased levels of politeness that are inherent in French society.When you enter a store, it is polite to say “Bonjour” to the person working there.  It is also expected that you will say “Au revoir” when you leave.  “Merci” is the magic French word that can open up all sorts of windows for you, so use it frequently.

What difference do you generally notice most upon returning to your country after visiting a foreign one?

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Reverse Culture Shock: 8 Things That Are Irritating Me Since I Left France

11 Responses

  1. After almost a year in France, my biggest shock upon returning to the United States was having to keep my lunches under an hour and not ordering wine with them.
    Curt recently posted..Hiking along Horton Creek TrailMy Profile

    Curt November 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm #
  2. What a nice comparison of two countries I love 🙂 Guess, you eventually will miss something everywhere, right?
    I really like that photo of you, the baugette, and Notre Dame 🙂
    Julika recently posted..The Beautiful Island of Rab, Croatia – In PicturesMy Profile

    Julika November 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm #
  3. The big cars and SUVs hits me every time I return to the U.S. from Europe.

    But the biggest culture shock for me was when I returned from the poverty of Haiti and watched a movie on the plane that took place in Beverly Hills and the dog was wearing bling and being served gourmet dog food. It was so disconcerting somehow. It made me ashamed of how frivolous Americans can be.
    Juliann recently posted..Happy Thanksgiving from Cracker Barrel This YearMy Profile

    Juliann November 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm #
    • Seeing how simply people live in other countries has been very humbling for me. The fact that these people seem happy (at least as happy if not more than we are) gives me the hope that we here in America can learn to simplify our lives and our consumption and still be as happy (if not more) than we are now.

      Shanna November 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm #
  4. Returning from abroad is the WORST!

    Koren @ City Gal November 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm #
    • Agreed! I suffered from a pretty serious bout of the blues last time back from France.

      Shanna November 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm #
  5. I totally agree — it’s so hard to return. The worst for me is when I visit more developing countries and then come back to the U.S. and see how ungrateful we are for the excessive lives most of us live. I’m sure we’ll really struggle with the reverse culture shock when we move back to the US from China. Great post!
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..Late-night surprises on Tobacco Caye: Belize Raggamuffin Tour, Day TwoMy Profile

    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) November 29, 2012 at 2:42 am #
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