What’s taken me by surprise as I’ve been back home

I expected there to be a lot of cultural nuances that took getting used to as I studied abroad in France. What I didn’t expect, though, was to be shocked anew as I re-entered the U.S. There are several common practices here that now seem strange to me. 

How Americans travel is very different than what I saw in Europe. Here, roads, parking lots, and cars take up much of the ground space, whereas in France, the roads are too tiny for the large vehicles we drive here and most people travel by the Metro. Being in my pickup again, for instance, felt unnatural.

As I drive now in Alabama, I notice another huge difference between our ways of life: nearly every road here has a church, if not two or three or four churches. France is notoriously not a very religious country, but culture in the U.S. south is deeply influenced by religion. 

Readjusting to Southern fashion has also been entertaining. Here, people wear very bright colors and patterns, whereas in France the fashion was more muted and verging on professional.

Food has been another thing to get used to. Although it sounds pretentious, American food has actually made me feel somewhat sick, as my stomach was used to a GMO-free way of living. Although I did start to miss hot wings and cheese-flavored chips, cheese-flavored crackers, and cheese-flavored Styrofoam, it’s uncanny to be back in a place where these items are so easily accessible. I now have to miss real cheese.