People ask me quite often how the adjustment back to America has been. They always want to know what has been the hardest part or the strangest things to readjust back to. Honestly, most things just feel….normal. Seminary life and the culture within it has been the most foreign thing for me to adjust to. Thankfully, others here feel the same as I do and we often sit around and laugh about this strange life we lead that even we don’t understand and others most definitely don’t understand. Being a seminary student and all the culture that comes along with it is interesting enough and then watching people’s various and sundry reactions when I say that I am a seminary student is interesting too. I can’t blame them, I don’t know how to take myself either.
Just for entertainment purposes, here are a few other readjustment issues:
Judging by my inability to leave my house without a 32 oz water bottle in hand, I would say that perhaps I have yet to comprehend that there is in fact a fresh, clean, free, water source almost anywhere you go in America. But, just in case that doesn’t happen, never fear, I will not run the risk of dehydration. Chances are that I won’t be willing to share in the case of an emergency, so you should definitely bring your own water bottle if you have hopes of hanging out with me.
I still find myself catching my breath for just a moment everytime I flip a light switch on. Do we have electricity today? That is always the question on my mind. Of course we do. It’s America. But I still have a moment’s pause before that light flickers on.
Just the other day, I went to pop some blueberries in my mouth straight out of the container they were in and when the blueberries were somewhere in the air between my hand and my mouth I experienced a moment of internal panic. Here these blueberries were mid-air in the direction of my open mouth and I hadn’t even washed them. Rest easy people, I didn’t get sick a couple of days later. Cause we don’t have to wash fruit here in America! That was a close call though.
I will confess that at times I had difficulty getting all my crap together and out the door by 9:00 am in Africa. Don’t judge. It just happened. Initially I had a hard time doing the same here, but there is far less room for flexibility. It is not okay to show up to places late. Traffic is unpredictable, so you better allow extra time. And to make things worse, I have a job that expects me to be there dressed, looking presentable, with my coffee drunk and my Bible read by 7:00 am three mornings a week. 5:30 am comes far too early. I much prefer the old life where I was still savoring my first cup of coffee as I sat down to read my Bible somewhere around 7:00 am. All of this rambling to say, life here is busy and scheduled and crowded and full and that takes some getting used to. I’m not there yet.
And finally, the thing that still catches me off guard each and every time are the automatic flushing toilets. We’re clean folks here at seminary and most of the places around campus have automatically flushing toilets. And those suckers don’t waste any time either. I swear, I am still in the process of trying to stand completely upright when the thing goes off behind me and scares me every time. I don’t know why it startles me, but it does…every time. Then the fact that everything in the bathrooms are automatic…oh, I just don’t know what to do with that. The toilet flushes itself, I hold my hands out in front of the sink and the water turns on, I stick it under the soap dispenser and soap comes out, then I wave it at the paper towel machine and a perfectly proportioned amount of paper towels is dispensed into my palm. It weirds me out. And I don’t know why. It is just so sterile, so robotic, so programmed. Going to use the restroom makes me feel like I live in a factory where I am pushed from one machine to the next until I am ushered out the door without having to do anything more than button my own pants.
Whelp, there you have it. All of my internal freak outs and the shock factor of my visits to the restroom. Yet again, I have over shared.