Everywhere But Home

News and musings from wherever my crazy life takes me. My body may be back in Illinois, but at least for now, my mind is still in Mongolia.


Reverse Culture Shock

I fully expect that three months from now, I will still be finding wads of toilet paper tucked into forgotten pockets and corners of bags and backpacks. After all, I spent the last fifteen months in a country where the availability of toilet paper was never, ever a given. You need only forget it once to make the lesson stick: always take TP everywhere.

Now that I’m back in the US, I don’t have to, and that is something of a revelation to me. It’s one of the many little things I used to take for granted here but which I must now consciously remember. Other daily revelations:

  • I can drink water straight from the tap.
  • People will look at me weirdly if I try to shake their hands after stepping on their feet.
  • Toilet paper can be flushed down the toilet!
  • Most people don’t drink hot water.
  • People in public places can actually understand what I’m saying, and I need to moderate myself accordingly.
  • Tipping
  • YouTube videos do not require half an hour of buffering before I can watch them.
  • Peanut butter is not worth its weight in gold here.
  • Getting carded for alcohol – problematic when you lost your driver’s license in Mongolia.
  • The hot water always works. Heck, the water always works, hot or cold!
  • Non-instant coffee is widely available.
  • I can talk to friends without first calculating whether it’s the middle of the night where they are.
  • Apparently wearing my scarf babushka-style is likely to draw the ire of people who think I’m Muslim.
  • People actually follow traffic laws here.
  • I can watch major sports events without having to search out a decent internet connection and a (probably illegal) streaming site that actually works.
  • Fresh fruit!

More to come as I readjust to life in the first world.