Reverse Culture Shock

For the past year, April has been on a remote island in the South Pacific, eating taro, drinking cheap Chinese beer, and wearing modest traditional Samoan clothing.  Since she came home there have been everyday things that have overwhelmed her- things that, like the rest of us, she took for granted before she left a year ago.  Her first trip to Target was quite an experience.  I didn’t think she would ever get past the dollar section in the front of the store.  Then she lingered through the clothing areas, touching and being distracted at every bend.  Picking out shampoo was a huge dilemma for her- so many varieties, so many choices.  She held her hands out about a foot apart and said “this is how wide the selection of shampoos was in my store in Samoa.”  But I think it was the laundry detergent department that really threw her.  I have to admit that I had never realized how extensive it was, how many shelves it occupied, or especially how many different kinds of Tide Detergent there are.  Do you want your clothes to smell like a fresh mountain spring or a mountain breeze?  Really, is there any difference?  Later she was able to delight in “shopping in my own closet.”  Clothes that she had left behind, that used to be old and boring to her, were now new and exciting.  Having not worn earrings in a year, her old jewelry took on new life.  I imagine that soon she will want whatever the latest thing is, but for now, it’s nice to see her appreciating the things that she has and realizing what spoiled Americans were all really are.

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