But in addition to everything I've been looking forward to seeing / doing / eating, I was also really looking forward to what the contrasts would be. What would stand out to me and to each of us after a year of living outside the US.
Of course there's all the things you know you're going to notice:
- traffic - whether it's more or less that what you're used to
- products - the US has a tremendous variety of everything. The number of choices of soap is just mind-boggling
When we were in training back in Virginia, we were told many times of the importance of greeting people each day with a "Good Morning". And how Americans are known for not doing this and how it can be seen as being unfriendly. I made a mental to note to make sure I always said "Good Morning" and thought that was that.
Living in Brazil, I've become very used to saying " Bom dia" or "Bom dia, tudo bem?" to people all the time. I say it to the people I work with, and the people I see walking down the street - anyplace I encounter someone, I greet them - and am greeted back. It's nice to have that pleasant acknowledgement of each others presence each day.
I was surprised when I arrived back in the US how much it bothered me to not say "Good Morning" to people I encountered. It felt very odd and unfriendly. The very first morning when we were catching a shuttle to pick up the rental car, I had to stop myself from saying "Good Morning" to the other person on the shuttle. You might be wondering why I didn't just say it anyway - but I really felt as though if I had, I would have made her very uncomfortable. She would have wondered who these overly cheerful and friendly people were and why were they bothering her. So - I bit my tongue and took my seat.
But as I went through the following days I noticed how little people greet each other on the street and how it contributes to a more isolated and invisible life. It's sad to see people walk around in their little bubbles, not even acknowledging each others presence - unless it's to step carefully away from someone who makes them fearful.
So - I decided I wasn't going to continue to contribute to the invisibility and isolation of other people. I would continue my "Good Mornings" and if it made them a little uncomfortable, if it made them wonder why some one was being friendly to them, if it made them realize that they were being seen as a person - then so be it.