I’ve been visiting the southern states of the US for the past four months and things are certainly different around here. It’s an interesting dynamic as America is so vast and multi-faceted. Parts of the US are undoubtedly cosmopolitan, progressive, and open-minded.
Yet I think just about everyone would agree that, as a whole, the southern United States has not historically fit this description.
I’ve written about my process of expatriating from Canada to the US but, aside from that post about guns in the bedroom, I haven’t really talked about experiencing culture shock since I’ve been here.
The funny part about arriving in the US after backpacking through Central America was that I immediately considered it akin to home. The signs were in English. The roads were maintained. There were fast food joints everywhere. “Yup, definitely not in Central America anymore,” I thought after my husband picked me up from the airport. Sure, there are differences between Canada and the US, but in general they are both developed Western countries that share a lot of similarities.
|Can you tell whether this is in Canada or the US?|
I carried on daily life as though I was back in my home country only to be belatedly slapped in the face by culture shock the further I settled into life in America.
The first time I did a double take was while I was shopping. I was picking up a spare battery for my camera and the customer in front of me had a gun sitting on his waist in a holster. I couldn’t help but fixate on it – why did this man feel the need to bring a pistol into a battery store? I know that a ton of Americans own guns but does that mean they should be flaunted in public? This was happening around the same time that Starbucks and Chipotle asked patrons not to bring guns into their restaurants and I think it’s obvious that I wholeheartedly agree with that policy.
The next set of eyebrows to be raised were not my own but they were in my direction. Everyone thus far has been subtle, but I can’t tell you how many times there have been double glances in our direction when seeing a woman of colour holding hands with a white man. It was especially notable when I first came back from Panama and my tan was particularly dark. M insists that people are just checking me out because I’m hot, which I think is an adorable husband-like thing to say, but the realist in me knows there’s more to the story than that.
|In Guatemala I was often mistaken for a local|
My biggest problem so far has been deciding when to stand up for my beliefs and when to stay quiet to keep the peace. My usual Monday Morning Confess Sessions tend to be more light-hearted but this one has really gotten to me. In fact, I’ve been putting off writing this post because of two reasons. First of all, selfishly, it’s easier to delay the things that make us uncomfortable. Second of all, I have a public website. People in my “real life” read and comment on what I write. I didn’t say anything in the moment but I’ll be damned if I don’t say anything on my own freaking blog.