Five and a half years of living in Europe changed me. Not all of the change was deep, spiritual change; some of it was simply “I’ve learned how to do life differently” change. And it’s in that vein that I give you my top ten because after several months back in America, there are still things that surprise me about my passport country. (This list is in no particular order.)
1. The road in front of your house is wide enough for you to make a U-turn, instead of having to make a ten-point turn. However, your parking skills have greatly improved because parking as close to the curb as possible is vital for keeping your car from being dinged or scratched or hit in Europe.
2. The parking spaces at the mall seem big enough for a car and a half. In fact, everything is massive from the kitchen sink to the washing machine to the SUV next to you at the stoplight. And when you watch House Hunters International, you secretly laugh at the expectations people moving to Europe have when it comes to how much space is necessary for life.
3. Laundry day doesn’t involve your kitchen. The additional storage space available in a kitchen when the washing machine isn’t one of several appliances in the space is wonderful!
4. Toilet seat covers are available in public restrooms. This seems like a luxury at the airport and is one of the first signs you are “home.”
5. The M&M section of the candy aisle contains more than two or three options. While this is wonderful, this could also lead to a mini-meltdown when trying to decide which kind to buy. To say nothing of all of the other new options in the grocery store, especially in the candy and snack aisles.
6. Speaking of chocolate, the chocolate doesn’t taste nearly as good as it did in Europe, and you wish you had brought some of the good stuff back with you in your carry-on.
7. All of the clothes you purchased in Europe last spring are in style in the US this spring, which means you save money and are fashionable without trying.
8. Your weekend adventures don’t include a quick flight or train ride to another country. Trips to Paris or Madrid are replaced by road trips to visit financial partners and possibly an organizational conference.
9. Paying with one dollar bills instead of one or two Euro coins confuses you and drastically reduces the number of coins you have in your purse. This should make your purse feel lighter, but you continue to keep a reusable bag for shopping in it, even though it isn’t as necessary in North America as it is in Europe.
10. Everything, even $4/gallon gas, seems cheap because you are no longer factoring in an exchange rate in your head. However, you tend to forget that sales tax is added when you purchase items and isn’t automatically included in the price. This might lead to double-checking receipts when leaving Target because you feel like you were overcharged for an item.
Can anyone else relate to this list? What would you add to this list for Europe or what would your list look like for where you’ve been serving?