Some Observations of America

It’s been less than a week since we touched down in America. After so long outside the country, it’s a bit of an adjustment. Here a few observations.

Cliche’ wing of the plane shots
  1. People are losing their minds over chip and pin cards. They’ve been the standard in other countries for many years, in some cases, even a few decades. I haven’t had to swipe my card and then sign for something in years. I even had to write a check for something the other day. It was shocking.
  2. Small town America is chatty. My husband has always been in bigger cities. It was a shock to the system for him when strangers in the local super market randomly made conversation. He was perplexed and suspicious. Even I’ve fallen out of the habit in spite of growing up in a small town.
  3. The food isn’t what I remember. I missed so much food, but now that I’m here I’m not as excited as I thought I’d be. I am definitely happy to have the awesome American super markets again ($2 strawberries!) and have a large oven to use, however, eating out isn’t as exciting. I was super pumped to get some Mexican food, which is expensive and hard to come by in Korea. I realized I’m not used to the portion sizes anymore. Even though I was very hungry, I could only finish about half my meal.

    Fine American Dining
  4. Everyone is less formal in the way they dress and groom. In Korea, makeup and skin care are taken very seriously. Personal appearance has a very high cultural value which can be both refreshing or irritating. Here, the attitude is just the opposite. If people are just out running errands or having some food, they are often dressed very casually or even a bit sloppily. Though it is nice to see people taking pride in how they present themselves, at least I feel less conspicuous if I didn’t have time to do anything but throw my hair into a pony tail and rub on some Burt’s Bees.
  5. Some things are very open here. In spite of the conservative streak that runs through American society, they are pretty open here about some things. At least compared to Korea. Your regular town pharmacy will stock a small selection of adult toys in it’s “family planning” section here. You would never see that in Korea. Though, it’s still a far cry from Germany, where such things are sometimes stocked in vending machines in pub toilets alongside the tampons and headache medicine.

We’re back in America for a while now, though certainly not for good. It’s still early days for us as we get settled in here. I still have a back log of posts about Korea, a few trips planned over the next year, and new American adventures to write about. Stay tuned!


  1. It’s funny how you notice all these new things when going home again. I was just home (in South Africa) in January and felt the exact same way about the food that i had missed so much. But the cheap fresh produce was well received! Good luck to you and your husband as you re-settle (or not). I look forward to hearing what you guys will get up to!

  2. “In Korea, makeup and skin care are taken very seriously” right! They also take fashion seriously. That’s what I felt when I had a vacation in Philippines. I guess people who lived in Korea won’t be the same again. Good luck on your American adventures!

  3. Yeah, the chip card thing really did my head in. And just this last year when I was home I had to get a money order cause who the hell uses checks anymore? And what type of place makes that the ONLY payment option?!

    Freakin’ ridiculous, haha.

    But yeah, the supermarkets? I miss those produce sections something fierce.

  4. We’ll be heading home to the UK in a few months time – so your post got me thinking about what will be different for us. Looking forward to be able to get some reasonably priced fresh fruit and vegetables! Looking forward to hearing about your American adventures.

  5. One thing I really liked when I first moved to Korea, was people watching. What you mentioned regarding casual and even sloppy clothing standards in America was also the case where I lived in somewhat rural Victoria, Canada prior to coming to Korea. I was just talking with my director recently, and he explained that he also noticed that he looks too trendy whenever he returns to the US for visits. That in the American, particularly male, quest to not appear gay, men tend to dress down, and wear over-sized clothing. I seriously enjoy the fashion here in Seoul. Thanks for an awesome analysis!

  6. You’re back! What part of the States are you from? How long did you live in Korea? I’d agree with most of your points except the food. I’m from Chicago and of Mexican background, so my parent’s homemade meals were everything my soul needed them to be (and more!). Mostly all the food that I missed satisfied me greatly haha.

    And when I went back to visit in January after having spent a year in Korea the not-overly-done-up people’s appearances was obvious but I found it refreshing tbh. I often will feel self-conscious when going out to dinner with my CTs because I look like a complete slob next to their overly groomed and put together selves as I don’t wear makeup and don’t dress up to teach children.

    1. It’s true, I never saw the point in wearing full make up with cat eyes and lipstick to teach 6 year olds. But I also would be mortified going out to dinner in sweatpants and an oversized tee-shirt with rips in it. Some balance between the Korean and American styles is necessary.

  7. #4 is very true. It’s like the clothes that you’d wear in Korea, you look overdressed in in America. I think that is unfortunate, because you should always look presentable and not like you just woke up.

  8. That’s funny, I’ve just come back to Scotland after 3 years in Korea and it’s weird how you pick up on things. I feel like I’m seeing my country through fresh eyes and, like you, getting used to people being so chatty haha. Even in the city, people are always chatty here. I’ve been freaking out about having contactless payment here. We had chip and pin for about 10 years but now you just tap your card on the reader and, voila! Everyone else is used to it though, so it’s just me loosing my shit haha.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s