Raising A Traveling Tribe:: Acclimating to a New Culture

by Tina on August 6, 2014

in family, Moving Abroad, Travel, USA

traveling mama downtown atlanta-12
It is so hard to believe that we have already been gone from Denmark for a whole month.  If these past few weeks are a sign of what our six month adventure is going to be like, then the next five months are going to fly by!

Before we get too acclimated to our temporary life in the US, we thought it would be fine to note some of the funny, odd, quirky and happy differences we have noticed since our arrival in Atlanta.  Acclimating to a new culture can be tough, but returning to your home country can really make you aware of how much your new culture has rubbed off on you!

I think one of the biggest differences that constantly surprises us is the fact that in the US, especially down here in the South, everyone talks to each other in public places even when they are complete strangers.  In Denmark, customers are expected to be in line and to check out as quickly as possible.  The grocery clerk may say thank you, but the check out line is not considered a place for conversation.  Here, though, we can’t go through a single line without having conversations with the check out clerk or someone in line that looks down and sees us buying a new kind of cookie and wants to know if we have tried them before, what we think, why we thought to buy them, etc, etc.

In so many ways we find it utterly endearing.  Southerners are such nice and hospitable people!  But at first we found ourselves standing there without much to say.  For instance, I was standing in one check out line and a sweet little old lady asked me if I was a school teacher.  I answered her question with a smile and a “no, actually I’m not.” and then I stood there like an idiot trying to think of something else to say!  Where did my social skills go?  Where is my ability to small talk?!  After I left the store I thought of plenty of things I could have responded with, such as “No, but what would make you think that?” or “No, but are you a school teacher?”… Anything would have been better than my quick and dead ended answer!

Maybe some of you have had had similar experiences when acclimating to a new culture?  We’ve really enjoyed your responses to Reverse Culture Shock and would love to hear more of your adventures in cultural adaptation!

Here are a few more things that have stuck out in the last couple weeks as we adjust to the USA::


* Eating my first dairy free cheese pizza in 12 years. There are so many options for those of us with food allergies!

* Laughing when Hailey retold her struggles with the blinds.  Our house has aluminum blinds that Jack and I grew up with but our kids had no idea how to use them!

* Parker’s description as we drove up to Walmart, “Oh, I remember this place.  It’s kind of big and really strange.”

* The sinking feeling of realization that healthy food is not always readily available, but the junk food aisles go on and on and on.

* Having someone bag my groceries and load them in my car for me.  Crazy!

* Stuffing my face with almond milk ice cream sandwiches… (May God help my waistline!)

* Missing being able to ride our bikes or take a quick train or bus to get somewhere.  Especially here in the South, a car is a necessity.

• Listening to our boys get excited about seeing Fords and Chevys… you know, the “foreign and exotic cars” that they don’t see as much in Europe.

* Having to explain where Denmark is to pretty much everyone… if they even know what Denmark is.  (Tiny country, great design, nice people, near Germany and Sweden!  :-) )

* Hearing our kids trying to imitate a Southern Accent… Now that is hilarious, ya’ll!

 

Photography: Atlanta Skyline by Tina Fussell

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Honora August 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Your aesthetic appears very Scandinavian. Every time I come home from visiting Denmark, I feel that my home looks like a pinata threw up.
My Danish family has said that American’s are damn polite. I find that shocking, because I feel the opposite. But, I would be the person pestering you in the check out line!

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