12 signs that I no longer live in America
“Back so soon, Dawn?” you may be wondering, “what about your angst?”
Well, I’ve still got “blogger’s angst,” but I also have had some blogging ideas, so I’m posting. I can’t promise much beyond one post at a time, though, and I’m growing more comfortable with that.
Moving right along …
When I stop and think about how much my life has changed over the past 2.5 months, it’s pretty amazing (and slightly overwhelming). I realize that some of you possibly have encountered some of the following situations in America. However, I had not, despite living in 6 different states in several U.S. regions over the past 18 years prior to moving to Thailand.
Here are a few of the ways things have changed; signs that I no longer live in America:
1. In addition to making noises like cats and dogs, my kids now mimic some of the large lizards we hear every night here. Take a listen – you have to admit, it’s a fun sound and definitely a great one for kiddos to mimic!
2. The majority of my neighbors speak a language different from mine. We do have a few Swedish neighbors as well as at least one American family living near us, but the majority of our neighbors are Thai.
3. I see more stray dogs roaming around than I see pet dogs. I rarely see dogs being walked and the majority of pet dogs who live around us seem to stay on their own properties behind gates most of the time.
4. I eat rice, on the average, as part of about 8 meals each week. I haven’t gotten tired of it. Yet.
5. My kitchen is completely separate from the rest of my house. Traditionally, any Thai who would have lived here would have cooked back behind in the house in an open area (I haven’t been in many Thai houses, so cannot tell you if this is very common at this point in time). At some point, the house was converted to be geared more toward westerners, so a separate little building was build behind the house – it houses my kitchen, a storage room, and my laundry room.
6. All of my clothes are hung on a clothesline or drying racks to dry. Yes, I did that some back in Colorado, but I had the option not to if I so desired. Dryers here? Not all that common.
7. Driving here looks *a bit* different – although I haven’t yet learned to drive here, my husband has. He makes driving on the left side of the road, in a vehicle that has the steering wheel on the right side of the car, look easy. Oh, and it’s a stick-shift, which means he shifts with his left hand. Seriously, the guy sets a high standard for the rest of us who still need to learn such skills.
8. Many coffee shop drinks you find here are SWEET (as in, sweet in flavor). The reason? Sweetened condensed milk. The Thai baristas love their sweetened condensed milk! I speak just a bit of Thai, but have already had to learn, “Ow latte yen. Mai wan.” (“I want an iced latte. Not sweet.”) And then, 8 times out of 10 it’s still somewhat sweet.
9. I can buy some foods much more cheaply here than in America. If the food comes from a market (vs. a store), I can get medium-sized pineapples for about 50 cents/each (in US dollars) and 6 smaller cucumbers for about 35 cents. Oh, and another bonus is that flowers are cheaper. I now get a small bouquet for our dining room table each week because 6 smaller roses with some filler or a bouquet of smaller daisies are about $1 each. (note: Not everything is cheaper here, lest you think we’re living on several hundred dollars each month ;)).
10. After using the bathroom, I throw the toilet paper away in a basket next to the toilet. I was unaware that the plumbing/septic systems in some countries cannot handle having toilet paper put them, but it’s true. There are actually many places that have “squatty potties” rather than western toilets here. It’s interesting to realize that some things you thought were very common are actually luxuries – I’m learning how little I actually know about how people in other parts of the world live.
11. I see more ahem, “creative” ways of transporting oneself/one’s family each day that I ever have in my life. I have seen many interesting ways of fitting entire families on a motorbike (scooter) as well as in/on the back of a pick-up truck.
12. My children are often treated like rockstars. We were at a popular waterfall and national park last weekend and at one point, were surrounded by Thai people who wanted to take pictures either of or with my kids. I felt like a handler for a couple of childhood stars in Hollywood!
Yep. I definitely am not in America anymore.
If you’re an expat, what are some of the signs that you no longer live in your passport country? If you’ve never lived outside your passport country but have done any international traveling, what was some of the “evidence” that you were away from home?