I’ve been Stateside for a few weeks, including an initial first week in MN, which was a good idea in terms of getting over jetlag and reacclimating to la vida Americana. Overall, the US is much the same as I remember. However, I keep on running into things that throw me for a loop, and they’re not always the most logical or relevant things. For example:
When did Pomegranate-Blueberry become the new “it” flavor/scent? Seriously, when I left I think we were on cranberry, or maybe cranberry-acai. Pomegranate-blueberry was not an option for salad dressing, yogurt, candles, granola or body wash. Not that I’m complaining toooooo much, because I do love me some pomegranates, and I’ve been rediscovering the joys of blueberries since my return.
Tipping. How does it work? Tipping is something I’m always a little paranoid about when coming Stateside, because I know that it’s done for many, many services, and I never remember which services or how much is appropriate. I think, judging from reactions, that I’ve been flagrantly overtipping. Not just at restaurants, either: at the hairstylists, for the baggage guy at the airport, and for my taxi to my flat. I guess overtipping is a lot better than flagrantly undertipping though.
Store discount cards actually make a difference in the final price of one’s purchase, significantly, and are thus used more often than not. Well that’s new. The few stores in Turkey that had cards didn’t really make them worth one’s while, but I knocked 1/6 of the purchase price off my Safeway run when I picked up a Rewards Card. One sixth!
Oh boyyyyy are credit/debit cards susceptible to theft or misuse in the US. One thing I loved about my debit card in Turkey was its Chip & Pin. It could not be used without the pin number. Of course this leaves the card vulnerable to skimming still, but if the card is lost or stolen, it’s much harder for someone to fraudulently use the card. Here, if someone grabbed my card, I’d have to call Card Services immediately and embark on a long and tiring journey of cutting off that card and getting another one while ensuring that I wasn’t charged for any fraudulent purchases. I wish the States used Chip & Pin.
I am no longer relatively a giant. Most of my female friends in Turkey were, as they say, hella short. Five feet? That’s kind of average. 5’4″ is the average American woman’s height, and coincidentally it’s my height as well. I am appreciating not being the outlier here. Minnesota was even better — with all the Scandinavian ancestry, I’m short.
Accents! They’re everywhere! American English-speakers abroad tend to have a basic, broad American accent — think newscaster English — with a little twinge of wherever they’re from — a muted Southern drawl, my lengthened Minnesotan “o”s, the flat vowels of the Bronx. It’s easy to forget that in the US itself, there are fantastic varieties of American English. I have to listen twice sometimes. My ears will get used to it, slowly but surely, but until they do I find it kind of enchanting.
Less enchanting: My Turkish is messing up my English pronunciation. I’m mangling words left, right and center. Uff da.