Friday, July 10, 2015

Reverse culture shock

Last month, I was in the US for the first time in 11 months, for the graduation of my students Brian Burg and Kıvanç Muşlu.

When I first landed, my initial reaction was, "How unusual -- everyone is speaking English."  My second reaction was, "Their accents are really good."  Then I interacted with more people and revised my opinion about the accents.

Another surprise was washcloths in the hotel bathroom and water-saving showerheads.

I was also taken aback my the friendly, helpful staff at stores and restaurants.  They were bright, cheery, and solicitous, and I didn't quite know what to make of it by comparison with the slow, sullen service I have become used to.

Walking around the University District near campus, it seemed like a freak show of the mentally ill shouting at the air or other people, many dozens of homeless in the streets, and people trying to hide their bodies under a deluge of piercings and tattoos.  I presume that all this exists in Madrid and Buenos Aires, but I don't know where; it isn't at the university.

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