I used to believe that not everyone was susceptible to culture shock. This way of thinking was definitely solidified after my return from my month-long Engaging Europe experience, in which we went to Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. I came back to Oklahoma missing the food and the decent public transportation, but there was no big “oh no” or “oh wow” moment that I was told would happen to me when I returned. At most, I gained an appreciation for the small things we have in the United States, like free public bathrooms and free water, while also appreciating the things America lacks that I saw in Europe, like decent public transportation. Overall, though, I thought myself immune to culture shock. I think you know where I’m going with this.
Nobody told me that culture shock can be bodily culture shock. As I found out the hard way, I am most definitely not immune to a bit of culture shock, as seen by the fact that I still won’t go back to Taco Bell, 6 months later, after I bit into a burrito and tasted that gross fake cheese. Fake cheese is strange. It tastes like plastic trying to imitate chese, and I hate it. But, for months in France I couldn’t wait to come home and eat a cheesy burrito from Taco Bell like I did all the time around this time last year. Also, the oil in everything here gave me severe headaches for a month. The pizza here is drenched in the stuff, and while I liked the taste of that fake cheese, the oil definitely gave me a headache that must have come from the pits of hell themselves. Also, Oklahoma water gave me diarrhea for about two weeks. I was told that might happen, but I’m still calling it a shock.
Once again, though, it was the small things that took me by surprise the most. Netflix suddenly not having a garbage selection of movies and shows, for example, floored me. I was so used to just going without them that I didn’t watch anything out of habit for another month or so. Not being able to walk everywhere was also a bit of a shock to me via my mom. We went to Penn Square mall and I suggested that we walk to Target, which was about 3 miles down the road, “to get something real quick.” She looked at me like I had grown a second head and then said, “and how would we do that? With what sidewalk? With what stamina?” I had become so used to literally everywhere being a pedestrian zone that not having one didn’t even register as a possibility for a second. It was a strange feeling.