Sunday, May 10, 2009

Good American Experiences

Yesterday I went out to eat and to the mall with my mom and sister. While we were out, I did some things that I consider to be very American--things I wouldn't have been able to do in Europe.
For one thing, while we were out to eat we all received free refills on our drinks. This does not happen in Europe, you have to buy a new drink if you want more after the first time you run out. I also used the restroom at the restaurant without having to pay for it. I was pretty excited about that. Our waitress was also really nice which was a different from what I had experienced in Europe. Waiters and waitresses in Europe get paid at least minimum wage anyway so they don't have to earn tips. Needless to say, our servers in Europe did not have much incentive to be nice and quite often were pretty rude.
As we were walking around the mall, I rode on the left side of the escalator without being told "adroit!" In Europe, if you stand on an escalator, you stand on the right side so that people that are in a hurry can pass you on the left. If you are in their way, they will let you know. While shopping, I rounded prices up because once I got to the register I knew there would be tax added on. In Europe, their ridiculously high taxes are already added into all of their prices so that whatever it was marked at was exactly what you paid. I was also pretty excited to get around places in my own car rather than having to take some form of public transportation. I enjoy being able to go where I want when I want rather than having to waste time worrying about when the trams and metros are running.
I do miss Europe a bit but I'm glad to have the freedom that comes with living in America.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I am finally home from abroad! I'm super excited to be back in the States although I do miss Belgium at times. I think I actually went through more culture shock coming home than I did going abroad. It was like rediscovering my life all over again.
When I first stepped off of the plane, I was so excited to feel humidity again. But now that I've been back for a few days, it's really starting to hit me just how hot and sticky it actually gets here! I also forgot about how country people are in the South. It's weird to walk around and be able to understand conversations going on around you.
When I got home, my family and friends had a little surprise get together for me. This is the first time I haven't actually found out about a surprise party. I'm convinced that it's because I was out of the country during the planning.
So now it's back to normal American life. Of course I will never be the same after this trip. I feel like it was a major learning experience for me. I gained a lot of knowledge about life in general. I don't think it's an experience that I can really convey to anyone who wasn't there. People ask, "So how was your trip?" or they say, "Tell me how Belgium was." What are you supposed to say to that? Where would you even begin?
I am very grateful that I was able to have this opportunity to study abroad and learn more about the world. I'm also grateful to the people who made it possible... my parents, professors, and everyone else.