Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photo by Micheal Ip
If anything was to give me culture shock it would be flying from the remote village of Humjibre, Ghana to New York, NY. I wont lie, a secret part of me was anticipating the possibility of experiencing something I'd always heard people reminisce about, but that I could never entirely share in their misery. Sure I'd been frustrated with cultural differences, one part of living in a foreign country is being subjected to ALL their traditions, ideas, and laws whether good or bad. But I'd never had full blown culture shock before.  *rubs hands in anticipation*

So I hopped off the plane only to wait in a loooooong immigration line where the non-passport holder line looked more white than us. Cool! People are so much more interesting to watch when they aren't all white n' nerdy. I was finally let out through the gates into a bustling city where honking taxis horns tapped out the time of the traffic and skyscrapers blocked out the blue blue sky; where one meal costs more than what I could live on for 3 weeks in Ghana (Let's not even talk about rent). There were washing machines and toilet paper (insert happy toilet paper dance!), and good coffee in a to-go cup, and foods from every part of the world! There were stores shoved full of electronics, clothes, supplies, things I haven't been able to buy easily for YEARS. I found myself having to relearn random words that were lost from my vocabulary over the years, like "mimosa" and feeling absolutely no connection with conversations about real estate, the newspaper world, celebrities or current television shows. Like a foreigner in my own country, I wandered through the cityscape marveling at the luxury and trying to find where my experiences, ideas of living and frugality and a trying to find where my global perspective of the world would fit after three years of living overseas.
Meeting old friends and college buddies is like coming face to face with an old version of myself, or other people's concept of me from 3 years ago. That person no longer exists and sometimes all you can do is just nod and smile. Nod and smile.

I feel like one foot is still in Ghana and one is in the US and my brain is in limbo somewhere between the two. And the best way to be re-introduced to Americaland?! You know it, road trip! An old college buddy, Ip (check out is work!) and I took off in a rental car from NYC, had a short stop over in the fakest feeling city I've ever seen, D.C. then made it all the way to Columbus OH where we crashed at a brother of a friends house who I had never met. Well really he's the brother of a guy I hiked to Everest Base Camp with and he met us at the door with a bottle of Champagne. I can't think of a better welcome.

The kindness of people absolutely floored me. People would smile and wave "good morning" and women would stop me in bathrooms to compliment my shirt or ask where I got my bag. Even the NYC homeless people asking for money seemed ridiculously respectful (and well dressed hmmm).

As the sun rose on our second day of roadtripping it, I got antsy to see my sister for the first time in ages and hug her babies and got off early to cruise across OH in the early morning light. She made us delicious homemade pancakes with blackberry syrup and I got baby kisses and monkey hugs from the cutest kids in the world! 
Americaland, I've missed you.
Stay tuned for more road tripping updates from New Orleans + New Mexico coming soon!

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