[reverse] culture shock

I’ve now been stateside for about two weeks, and I’m getting used to it. I think. 

Today, however, I realized just how used to certain aspects of Albanian life I had become. 

Last week I shelled out for some new running shoes, and today I took them out for a spin on a local trail with my sister (running on a trail again is amazing, but oddly boring – no animals to avoid). At each family, runner or cyclist we passed I had to choke back the words “Si e kalove?” or “‘tjeta” in Albanian. I realized that I had/have become so used to everyone I see while running staring at me wide-eyed that my instinctual defense mechanism of a greeting and a smile is literally a part of my DNA. 

Over the course of today’s run, I managed to fool my brain back into greeting people in English. Even though I didn’t receive many greetings in return, I can’t yet tell if it’s just the American way or if I look that scary when huffing and red faced and dripping sweat.

I don’t think I’ll give up the habit, though. 

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2 comments
  1. Bill Labich said:

    Laura, this was my experience as well. Upon returning from my country where it was typical of men in my locale to do any number of things that most Americans would view as strange: grabbing one’s crotch forcefully to emphasize a point, holding another man’s hand when crossing the street, using vocalizations and different facial expressions to communicate opinion. The more mundane practices included greeting everyone without exception during the day, and no one at night. Each took time to move out of my repertoire. I think I got tired of people giving me odd looks and pulling their children away from me simply because I cheerfully greeted them in the morning. Good for you to try to hold on to your greetings as long as you can!

  2. susan said:

    I hope someone took a picture of you all running together! Couldn’t have been that scary!!

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