Coming to America Moments

Coming to America Moments

Updated August 2, 2023

After living abroad in Argentina for close to 2 years, I recently returned home to the United States. When I visited the US back in August, I wrote a little about my Reverse Culture Shock. When I moved back for real, I found I had even more “Coming to America” moments.

Produce Madness

In Argentina, you mostly buy your produce at little produce stands crammed full of the produce of the season. You might go in looking for peaches and come out with pears because hey, that’s what’s in season and thus what they have. I grew accustomed to this. I actually liked it. I enjoyed that the fruit stand people knew me, and probably made fun of me for always buying things in groups of 5 (I lived alone!). I liked the small selection, and I knew that every few months, the prices would go up and that would be that.

When I went to the grocery store for the first time, I stood in the produce area, completely shell shocked. There was so much going on! The colors, the giant displays, that crazy sprinkler system that sprays down the produce every 10 minutes while “singing in the rain” plays – what the hell was this?! I realized I had no idea what fruit was in season, because every fruit I could think of was available. I remember holding a bunch of bananas for a solid 30 seconds wondering “is 59 cents a pound a sale or a rip off? How much do bananas cost in this country?” It was truly confusing.

Don’t touch my things!

In the big city of Buenos Aires, I learned to hold my things close. I never let my purse so much as swing at my side, I chose instead to clutch it in my arms, even when sitting at a restaurant. Texting while walking? Only if I felt like buying a new Blackberry after having mine stolen. When I first got back, I went to dinner with my mom in the suburbs of St. Louis. I sat down and held my coat and purse in my lap. My mother stared at me. When she suggested I put my coat and bag on the back of my chair, I almost objected. I then thought about it and realized this is the suburbs. No one here wants my freaking coat and no one is going to run through 0′Charleys snatching purses.

Driving a clunker. This is how I die

I mentioned my issues with having to drive again with my vacation Culture Shock post, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. First of all, I don’t have my beloved, trusty Ford Focus. I’m an overly nice sister and lent it to my big brother who lives across the country. For now, I’m driving an old clunker my mom had lying around. She explained that it doesn’t lock. Again, this freaked me out until I once again realized, theft is not all that common here. Also, this car has nothing worth stealing.

The first time I drove, it was a cold night. The windows were in need of defrosting, the lights were dim, and the street was dark. After waiting 20 minutes for the windows to defog, I grew impatient and tried to drive anyway. As the dim lights flickered and i squinted through the foggy windows I said to myself “this is how I die.” Oh how I missed the buses and subways of Buenos Aires.

Honking means hello

In Buenos Aires, I was constantly accosted by creepy men who hit on me using various unpleasant tactics, including honking at me. This happened so often that I grew accustomed to yelling obscenities as soon as a horn sounded anywhere near me. One day, I was walking my dog and my mom’s 2 dogs. As I walked along the street, someone honked at me. I instantly became furious and starting yelling andáte a la mierda, pelotudo!”(go to hell, dick). Turns out, it was just some friendly lady trying to ask what breed one of the dogs were. Thank God she didn’t speak Spanish.

I’ve had a few more Coming to America moments and I will surely have a few more, so stay tuned for more in the Coming to America series.

Rease is a US citizen who fled the Midwest in favor of ex-pat life in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After 1.5 years of living and working abroad, she has recently relocated back to the US for a new adventure that doesn’t involve working in an office. She is bilingual and is very capable of cussing you out in Spanish. She loves gaining and sharing knowledge of local cultures, customs and adventure, and she especially loves getting sassy with anyone who gets in her way. Her favorite place in the world is any artisan ice cream shop in Argentina.