Culture shock is a funny thing. Though we know what to expect, there are certain things we still struggle with every time we come back to the US. The overwhelming number of choices, the wide open spaces… libraries! Splash parks! Goats!
For Caleb and I, we at least know the “rules” of social interactions in America, although they are not as instinctual as they once were. Do I hug this person or shake his hand? How closely do I need to watch my kids at the playground? Is the suggestion to get together real or just a nicety? We often have to take a second and make sure we are playing by the proper rulebook… because the American way of doing things is no longer our default.
Our kids are Beiruti born and bred, and so guiding them through what’s appropriate or not is a constant conversation while we are here on Home Assignment.
So, if you want to avoid offending or getting yourself killed, here are the basic rules of life in America, according to my kids after three weeks of HA:
- Eat cereal every morning
- Don’t throw toilet paper in the trash can
- Don’t throw trash on the floor outside
- Speak English
- Wait in line
- Move to the right when an ambulance comes
- Shake hands, don’t kiss people on the cheek (unless you love them!)
- You can show people the bottom of your feet
- You can wear shorts and flip flops to church
- You can wear tight pants and shorts
- Don’t take candy or interact with strangers
- Use your turn signal
So there you have it, all you need to know to make friends in the good ‘ole US of A!