I have been writing to a man from another Country. (He is a friend of one of my sons). I asked him if that son had ever told him what it was like for him, the son, when he first visited Great Britain. He had just graduated from High School, (son) and that was his "I have over a cumulative 4 point average and I'm going to be rewarded!" trip.
But it made me think of my first trip abroad in the dead of Winter. No matter how educated you may be..no matter how prepared you think you are...nothing matters when you first set foot in a Country other than your own. When you have never been out of your Country and there you are..traveled all by yourself (in my case to meet up with my husband after a six month absence), and suffering with jet lag though then, I did not know that term.
I went to the terminal and there was NO way to contact him. I needed to, because he wasn't there and I had no idea what to do or where to go nor could I communicate in the language of that Country then. To this day I cannot remember why he was late. We had to rely on letters back and forth to tell him of the arrangements and when, what airline, what day and time and so on. It wasn't until several hours later that he showed up. However that is not the thrust of my blog.
I said in the title "out of sync ever so little". That's how I felt. I was very much a devourer of anything regarding Sociology. Loved it then, I still do. We couldn't afford it back then but we even took the American Journal of Sociology. Devoured it from cover to cover. I read out the library. There was nothing they had on the topic I had not read. So..when I felt as though time (or my perceptions at least of where I was and stood on the earth) had tilted, I knew I was experiencing what is termed culture shock.
My husband had picked me up and we were driving to where he lived at that time. (we moved every 6-8 weeks.) and the shock began. Gosh, I thought..what wide white lines in the middle of the road. Easily twice what we have here. Strange. Wow, The rooftops of the buildings look odd (read "different") holy moley..is that thatch on those roofs? WOWEE...double trucks. (now we have them too...tandem trailer trucks on the roads) Zowee! Is that someone using the bathroom out there on the side of the road? Can we stop at a gas station so I can use the bathroom? That HOUSE is the gas station? You mean that little pump..that's IT? Someone's HOUSE? I can't use their bathroom. Aren't there any public bathrooms? The WOODS! Yer KIDDING! Look at those pedestrian crossings! Man! WIDE zebra looking black and white stripes! This house is where we will live for now? It's like a boarding house? What do you mean there's no bathroom for our use? Down the hall? Git outta here! Ask to have the hot water turned on? Yer kiddin' me. WHAT? It's what would be 58 degrees in this little room we live in...the radiators need jackets on them to warm themselves up! That's IT? No warmer? Yer kidding! I can't live this way!
The only saving grace I had at that time of my life was I was not an ugly American. I didn't make any comments other than to my husband and those when we were alone. I knew I would adapt. It was just a matter of time. I did, and that particular Country became my most favorite of all. I had my first child there too, I might add. I got to travel a great deal, go to many Countries, meet many people some of whom became fast friends. When I had my first son, we carted him everywhere so that all the owners of the places we had lived could meet him and admire him (proud mama). I have photos of some of those people that I treasure to this day.
This could turn into a book so I'll stop while we're ahead. Have a great day. I will too.