Living in another culture is always going to be challenging, but I think the bigger challenge is returning to your own after living somewhere else. Here is a list of what I'm anticipating will be the biggest challenges, and also a list of what I'm really stoked to return to.
1. Shaking hands or hugging instead of kissing people hello and goodbye.
-I've gotten so used to kissing people in greeting that it actually is a shock for me to hug people, and I'm probably the world's biggest hug addict there is. So, my apologies to all of you Stateside in advance if you see my face rapidly approaching yours when you say hello.
2. Really long meals.
-In France, sharing a meal is not something done out of necessity; it is something done out of community. If you are invited to share a meal with someone, it is expected to reciprocate the invitation. These meals are not the 45 minute (if that) meal at a restaurant where they seve you immediately and clear dishes before you've finished that last bite of toast. Yesterday, I invited friends over for lunch, and they didn't leave until 6 p.m. It's not like we were eating that whole time, we were talking, laughing, joking, and just enjoying each other's company. Not to mention, of course, playing card games.
-I have not driven a car in a year. For one reason, French roads terrify me, and for another there's not always a need for a car. You can take the buses, trams, or just walk anywhere in town. Sure, it takes a little longer, but that just means you have the chance to enjoy the scenery instead of being stuck on the autoroute.
4. Speaking in English.
-I already have a hard time remembering what certain words are in English, and now I'll be in English all the time. There are certain nuances and phrases I use in French that really do not translate into English (and vice versa), so we'll see what bizarro things will come out of my mouth. Plus, for the majority of the year, when I have spoken English, it's been with British folk. If I do say something that sounds like a British term, I am not trying to be like this (best quality I could find, apologies), certain words have just crept into my vocabulary.
Now, for a list of things that I am looking forward to:
1. Free wifi.
-My favorite coffee shop here has it, but it's hard to find.
-Yes. I know I said it would be a challenge, but I'm really looking forward to not walking/riding the bus for 40 minutes each way to go grocery shopping.
-They neither play nor watch it here, and I'm excited for doing both.
4. Fully understanding worship music.
-As much as I do love French worship music, my vocabulary does not include every word so sometimes I don't know what I'm actually singing.
Please have patience while I adjust back into the American culture, and while I adjust to living away from my friends and family here. It's not at all that I am not excited to see those I love in the States, it's just very hard when your heart is in different countries.