As time goes on—we are almost three months into our repatriation adventure—we are noticing more “weird” things about our home country.
- Trees and branches overhang road spaces, even highways. We have never seen this in Europe.
- Eggs are pristine white. European chicken eggs are always brown.
- Road conditions are much worse than in Europe. Of course, there are many more roads.
- We tend to want to answer people we don’t know in Spanish … and have actually replied first in Spanish. One day, a waitress in a Mexican restaurant could hardly believe we were fluent in Spanish. I guess we don’t look the part.
- People we knew forty years ago don’t recognize us. Imagine that.
- It has to be a cultural thing, but attendees at church seem non-responsive. Not many head nods or amens or anything. The preaching is awesome, and I wonder if the pastor sees visible responses or not.
- Huge washing machines. I cannot even reach the bottom of a relative’s washer.
- Prices. Some are much cheaper than in Spain, and others are much more expensive. We are never sure what to expect.
- Professionals look very young. Youthful doctors, professors, and others cause us to realize we’re older than we thought.
- Used market. This is one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the United States. There are consignment and second-hand shops, re-sale stores and yard sales. Some are better than others, but they’re all fascinating. We even got a free dryer through an online used forum.
My husband and I are slowly settling in. Another couple who did the same told us it takes about two years to feel at home. I wouldn’t doubt it.
As for lessons learned, I think I could categorize them in two ways:
- Stay flexible. The world doesn’t revolve around us; we need to adapt to our surroundings. It’s part of being selfless instead of selfish.
- Listen to expert advice. We usually ask our children and their spouses. It’s a strange role reversal, but it works. They’ve already adapted after living in Spain and Puerto Rico. We’ve also been thankful for great professionals (doctors, realtor, etc.).
- Ask about lowest prices. When we ask friends and family about where to find the best deals, we end up making better choices.
- Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and no one settles into a new country immediately. We have needed to think, pray, and decide—and wait on some things.
- Pursue good leads. It helps to jump on good deals. We got the aforementioned free dryer that way. It needed a cord, but my husband can fix it. Also, it never hurts to ask questions.
- Learn from your mistakes. When we goof up—which we have already done a couple of times—we get up, dust ourselves off, and learn from experience.
- We are stewards of God’s blessings. Everything we have came from the Lord, and we are responsible to Him for how it is used. At a time when we are setting up housekeeping in a new country, we’re constantly praying about wise use of money, whether or not something is needed now, and trying to stay in tune with each other in all our decisions. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2).
- My husband and I are responsible for our own decisions. Sometimes, we get conflicting advice. Ultimately, we need to do what we feel is right before the Lord. Our decisions might not be right for someone else even though they are for us. The Bible says we can ask for help in making wise decisions. (See James 1:5.) For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death (Psalm 48:14). My husband and I are striving to follow the Lord’s leadership.
- It is important to thank the Lord for all the blessings along the way. People have given us several pieces of furniture, curtains, and a lamp. My sister offered to help me recover some dining room chairs. We still have furniture needs, and we’re constantly seeing the Lord’s hand. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11) God always wants to bless us. It’s another evidence of His amazing love. Because of this, every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever (Psalm 145:2).
Whatever your circumstance, feel free to share what you are learning from the Lord as you begin this year.
You might enjoy reading my first post about our reverse culture shock experience, here.