Monday, September 15, 2014

Things that (Still) Scare Me

There are a few here in the States that still kind of scare me as I transition back to this place called Holland. er, Michigan. America. I'm slowly but surely getting less jumpy and feeling like my expectations actually match what I'll find outside my door... but it's definitely a process!
  • Using a credit card. I never know when or how to sign or what buttons to push. And you need my email address for what?
  • Pumping gas.
  • Plugging electronics of any kind into the wall without a surge protector. 
I literally brought one of these with me in my suitcase any time I traveled in East Africa...
partly for protection from power spikes, and partly because there was usually only one plug in the room!
  • Letting electronic batteries wear down to the end – what if the power goes out?
  • Leaving food – of any kind – on the counter without ant-attack-counter-tactics in place.
  • Driving fast on American roads – keep right, keep right, keep right!
  • Drinking water out of the faucet. Or eating fruits and vegetables after washed (without fully being dried) or wet utensils/plates, etc. Gotta remember I won’t get an amoeba!
  • Windows that don’t have full blinds (like the place I’m staying now). What if someone sees and reaches in the windows to take stuff? Is it really that safe around here?
  • No bars across the doors/windows, no grills to lock at night. 
  • The weather. At least in Musoma, I knew generally what would happen every day. Here it’s cold in the morning, MIGHT get hot during the day, air conditioners going everywhere… I’m never sure how to dress or what to wear! Or what is stylish and what’s just, well, weird… :P
  • Looking down and seeing an actually WHITE shirt that I'm wearing. Is that even possible? I still can't used to the white- and bright-ness of clothes here...
  • Automatic hand-dryers in public bathrooms. Those things are piercingly LOUD! Doesn’t anybody realize just how much hearing damage they could be causing!?
  • Shopping centers. (Just took on Walmart for the first time yesterday.) So. much. stuff! Did you know there are at least 12 different kinds of CHEERIOS – just cheerios, let alone anything else – in the cereal aisle to choose from?!
  • "Normal" tasks like setting up internet, or picking out a new bank when your old one closes all it's local branches. If I could manage this in East Africa, it seems like this should be easy! But apparently a lot has changed since I did it before in the States 5 years ago...
  • Calling people. as in, real voice-based discussions. (everyone only texts in Tanzania...)
  • I continue to hand-wash dishes, despite my dislike of the task, simply because I keep forgetting there’s another option…
  • ...and EVERYTHING is big! Except for the floor tiles ;)
    • I love books, but the library (even a small one) is sensory overload. 
    • Laundry machines (washers) are so big, you can do a huge load at once! (And what's that you say, I don't have to fill it by hand by lugging water from the sink?!) So what do you do if you’re a single person with a small load? 
    • “Small” couches can fit four people easily (ok, maybe I’m just used to a lack of personal space?). 
    • And every restaurant portion can feed me for three meals. Literally. 
So if you happen to see me from afar in a grocery store, and my face looks a bit like this...
don't worry. I probably just need a hug, some sleep...
and will be feeling right back to myself (or something like it, for a little bit anyway) in no time!
assuming, of course, that's hot chocolate or apple cider in that mug... ;)

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