Monday, January 17, 2011

Back in the U.S.A.

On my way to the U.S.A., I stopped in Prague for a night to visit my in-laws with my husband.  The first thing I noticed in their apartment (ok, maybe I am strange), was that the light switches were located inside the bathrooms.  They don't do this in Israel.  Imagine, you could be in there, and anyone can come along and shut the light off on you.  That's Israel.  Its really just one of those tiny annoyances that you notice when you go in, and realize you have to go back out to turn on the light.

Returning to the States, everyone's first question to me is, "Wow, how is it there?"  This is a hard question to answer.  It's all the little things like light switch locations that wouldn't normally even hit one's radar, that create the sense that you are in a foreign place (until they become the norm - and suddenly I am finding myself searching for light switches outside of US bathrooms).   

But there are also fundamental differences in human behavior, such as culturally accepted boundaries and expectations for type and quantity of interaction.  I couldn't have traveled between further opposites in this regard.  I am being reminded of the stark differences in parenting styles and family expectations.  Israel has a very traditional culture.  The northwest United States has gathered all the people who purposefully left traditional cultures over the last 200 years (with the exception of the Native Americans here, I suppose).   

It's nice not to have to think so hard about daily activities again.  But I'm already missing all the fresh fruits and vegetables from the shuk. 

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