So, in my last blog post, I discussed the difficulties of saying good bye to my adopted country and all my friends. Today, I’m going to give my first impression of being back home and how things feel different than when I left.
I moved to a part of Austin, I’m not really familiar with, I’ve been on many of the major streets in the area, but not the specific neighborhood I’m in. The first time I noticed anything I was walking my dog during the morning rush hour, and there were so many cars, so many cars with one person driving them. These weren’t your small compact cars like I would see in Europe, most of them were trucks. This to me was really different, because for the past year and a half there were few if any trucks or jeeps around Eindhoven. In the Netherlands a driver pays taxes based on the weight of the vehicle. That and gas costs around $8/gallon as I’ve mentioned before. These two combined changes vehicle selection and pushes people to drive smaller fuel efficient vehicles. Of course there were less bikes on the road. Even though the neighborhood I’m has bike lanes on every street big enough to use them. There are few bikes. I did not see many. Most of them were on a single street and many of them were obviously being used for exercise rather than transportation.
There are significantly less grocery stores in the city. In Eindhoven, Ablert Heijn’s (Dutch version of HEB or Giant Eagles) were all over the place. They were about as common as Star Buck’s in the US. However, this was driven by the fact that customers either walk or cycle to the store. It would be extremely frustrating if the closest AH was over 3 km away which is much more likely in Austin.
Aside from these I have a strong feeling of saying “Dank je wel” (Thank you) whenever I get a receipt from someone. I kind of got it ingrained in my head, that and saying “Alstjebleft” (Please/Enjoy). It’s also strange to be at a coffee shop (cafe) and not have people looking at me for speaking English when they first sit down.
I probably will always look at the US in a different perspective than I had before. I think this is a good thing. There is a lot of waste and excess in the US culture. The Netherlands showed me that the US way isn’t the only way, is not the best way and adapting ideas from both cultures could improve a lot of things.