The Coconut Example – Services in America

One of the most intriguing things about living abroad, is the learning experience of returning to your native country and seeing norms, institutions, daily life with fresh eyes, almost comparable to that of a foreigner.

In some ways, I feel as though I have more control over my own life now that I have lived abroad and can look at things in my native country more critically now that I have a basis for comparison. Instead of simply saying “Well, that’s just the way it is” or “It’s what everybody does” I understand that what is “the norm” here in the USA may be the complete opposite in another country.


Just a few thoughts I’ve had while going through my Sunday morning routine.

1. I was at Starbucks and noticed two girls in heavy makeup and those big sunglasses that cover half of the face. First, wearing too much makeup conceals the actual facial aspects of the person. Wash all that junk off and it might actually be a dude type of heavy make up. Secondly, those glasses conceal half the face! Wouldn’t it save time and money if they just wore a full Muslim veil? In either case we don’t know what the person actually looks like.

Culture shock in San Francisco

I had thought that the culture shock had subsided but I continue to be shocked, amazed, confounded by my surroundings here.

Before I describe these instances, I’d like to back up and explain a bit about why they “shock” a person returning from abroad. Living in another country, one is continually exposed to different behaviors and situations that they wouldn’t necessarily find in their home country. The instances that really stick out are the ones that frustrate and cause a person to think “This wouldn’t happen in my country.” Over time you develop an ideal image of your home country but upon returning, realize that this ideal is just plain fantasy.


The second definition of “institutionalized” in the dictionary is, “Given the character of an institution or incorporated into a structured and usually well-established system.” The first definition as an adjective states “Officially placed in or committed to a specialized institution.”
Institution – “An organization founded and united for a specific purpose.”

Therefore could it not be said that our daily lives are immersed and utterly intertwined with various institutions which are officially sanctioned by the overriding institution which is the government of the land in which we live?

Thus are we not all to some degree institutionalized?

Shakedown in America

Now that my Movabletype is back up and running, I can finally start posting with some regularity again.

As you may have already guessed, the main theme of my posts are simply the experiences, learning and how mentality and ideas evolve over time for someone who lives in different countries and is exposed to extremely different cultures.

Today is another post about re-adjusting to America and how it seems to me everyday seems like a shakedown of all my hard earned cash. But let me back up a bit…