Culturally Changed: Part 1 (Posted 7-31-2011)

The other day I (Julie) called a store in Dallas to inquire about a specific item.  The sales associate told me what they had in stock and suggested, “Why don’t you stop by and see if this will work for you?”  I thanked her and ended the phone call.


Silly as it may sound, this brief conversation has been on mind regularly the last several days.  Here’s why:

I picked up the phone and made a phone call.  I knew what to ask, how to ask it, what to expect, and I barely thought twice about my language or the cultural aspects involved.   In our life here, I struggle with all of these things.  I avoid using the phone, and when I do talk to someone in regard to any business transaction, I am nervous and constantly evaluating my words and actions as well as the other person’s.  Frankly, I generally just ask Chad to do it, or when I do go to a store and ask for something, I congratulate myself for some time afterward for accomplishing what I needed.

The sales associate’s suggestion also assumed two things: That I was in Dallas and that I could get in my car and drive over.  I have not been in the States for over a year and I also have not driven a car for almost a year.  We don’t yet own a car.  We take public transportation or walk everywhere we go.  Such a contrast from a city in which you have to drive to go practically anywhere.

It is interesting to me how this simple conversation struck a chord in me and showed me some everyday ways in which my life here is so different from the life I had in the States.  I had a good cry last night and as always for me, there were several contributing factors, but honestly, this was one of them.  I guess I am taking a few moments these days to grieve the familiarity of the life I left behind and my nice chat with the REI salesperson helped me to understand some of my feelings more clearly.

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