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August 2015

June 2015

Reverse Culture Shock

Biggest reverse culture shocks from our first 24 hours back in DC: 1) The diversity of America, or, Fifty Shades of Brown. As a "minority," this was especially noticeable after 2 years living in Korea, one of the most homogeneous countries in the world. My taxi driver from Dulles is a recently-naturalized US citizen from Morocco. Our waitress is Korean. The Target cashier was Somalian. The bartender is from El Salvador. The U.S. remains the melting pot that attracts people from around the world chasing the American Dream. 2) Choices! My jaw dropped when I walked into the new Fairlington Safeway on King Street, Alexandria. It is about 3x the size of our old Yongsan commissary with FOUR aisles of beer and wine. 3) Tipping. After two tours in countries where tipping is not common or expected, I forgot that tipping has become ubiquitous in the United States. 4) Cost of living. A Korean BBQ dinner for six was $130 including $20 in tips. The same group meal would have been about $70 in Seoul with no tipping required. 5) Customer service. Although this seems to be a dying art form, American customer service is still light years ahead of most countries. Even our United flight attendants were surprisingly chipper. On second thought, Maybe there is something good to be said for tipping!

Jun 14, 2015