Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reverse Culture-Shock, Part 1

Since we have been back in America for a little more than three weeks, we have watched our children go through culture shock... only it is reverse culture-shock since they are Americans by birth.

Even though our home in Ukraine is "American," our children have lived in Ukraine most of their lives. And, since some things that are in America are not in Ukraine, we have enjoyed watching the childrens' reactions to those "new" things.

I have had a lot of time on the road, so I used some of this "mundane time" of riding to make a list of things the kids have mentioned, or even made us laugh over, that are different to them. Here are just a few of those things on my list:

1. Free condiments at fast food places (Yes, we pay extra for this stuff in Ukraine, and the kids can't believe it is free here... or that nobody is watching to make sure you only take just enough.) 2. Vending machines (These are just now coming out in Ukraine, but they are still a new idea and highly entertaining for my children)
3. Sidewalks in front of homes (And the funny thing? People in America do not walk like Ukrainians do! These sure would be nice in every neighborhood in Ukraine like they are so abundantly available here.)
4. GPS systems (Our van has one of these, but the most entertaining part of all to us is that most pastors assume we have one. I guess everyone has one now, either on their dashboard or on their cell phone...)

5. "Automatic bathrooms".... i.e. toilets that flush automatically, sinks where the water automatically flows when you wave your hands under them, automatic paper towel dispensers, etc...

(You should see the scared looks on my hillbilly kids' faces when the toilets flush automatically... or watch them try to figure out where the water faucet is to turn the water on! And just try to explain to my kids that you can walk away while that water is still running... that it will eventually go off by itself... and they won't get in trouble for leaving the water running!)

6. Signs that say "Don't Text and Drive." Whatever happened to "Don't Drink and Drive"?! My how the times have changed!
7. Drinking fountains (I nearly dread when a place has these... and nearly every place does... because it means a minimum 5-minute detour for our family!)

8. Clothes dryers in EVERY home (Ahhh... now these are Mommy's favorite. Do I even have to tell you to be thankful for your dryers? And did you know it is a MIRACLE to put something dirty in to wash and be able to wear it less than 2 hours later?! Even hubby is enjoying the miracle of clothes dryers.... I know because he has been very willing to help me with laundry these days!)And, have you ever had your kids see a dryer sheet and ask, "What is that?" Oh, I have! 9. Car-transporting trailer trucks

There are many, many more items on my list, but I will divide this post into parts and add more later. Hope I made you laugh (and, yes, at our expense! I seriously don't mind!)


  1. What fun to watch them discover these new things! So glad that you get to enjoy a clothes dryer for awhile. I can't wait to hear more.

  2. Haha! Too cute! I remember counter-culture shock when I went home last year. I couldn't believe the size of the ovens! I asked my grandmother if she had ordered a special size oven, then asked in shock (when she said no) if it was a normal, everyone has one oven. hehe. Also, the toothpaste isle took me forever.

  3. I can relate to what you are saying so well. I remember my neices being afraid of a vacuum during a visit to the states since they have NO need of one in Cambodia. They had never even seen one. Our kids have many things that are new and interesting to them when we are on furlough. Just like when someone visits a mission field and sees all kinds of unusual sights, yet those unfamiliar things have become "normal" for the missionary.

    I would say that when my kids saw a dryer during our first furlough, that was one of the funniest things and one that will stick in my mind. Now we have a dryer and I can honestly say that I am thankful for it almost everytime I use it.

    It's great that you are writing all these things down. I have a feeling that next time we are in the states we will all go through some culture shock - especially our kids.

    Enjoy using a dryer, have "free" extras when you eat out (including drink refills, having beautiful sidewalks, clean - automatic restrooms,....

    p.s. driving was a culture shock for my husband after being in Russia =)

  4. Haha, just tell them not to get used to all of that. :-)

  5. How darling! Let's wait and see what culture shock they will "suffer" in Mexico. Can't wati!!!


  6. I will have to remember to keep a list when our kids arrive in the land of their citizenship. Five of our children were born here, so they really don't know anything else. Children are great reminders of how blessed we truly are!

  7. This was so fun and funny to read Jolene!!! Love ya'll and praying for your family often!

  8. It's good to write these things down! I have always tried to "prepare" my boys for our trips to America. But each time there is always something new they did not know about!

    missionary in Brazil

  9. Loved these, so true. Are the kids amazed at the free refills on drinks?

  10. Love it! Thanks for sharing. :-)

  11. thats just great :) haha!

  12. So funny! :o) I remember paying for condiments in Germany and in most places here in Guatemala we don't get free refills on our drinks. :o(

  13. Yeah, no free refills here either.

  14. Makes one realize how much we take for granted, and how truly blessed we are here! Love to you all!

  15. LOL..........my kids loved the automatic toilets, sinks and towel dispensers too. They had to keep waving their hands over the red light to watch the towels come out by themselves! The funniest though I think was when we got off the airplane in Minnesota and the kids were complaining about being cold. I told them not to worry.......there were heaters in the airport. Toria asked really loudly....MOmmy, What is a heater??? We got the looks from the people all around us:)

  16. I loved your Blog Post, Jolene! I had to smile, since it reminded me of a bunch of hillbillies from México who used to go to the US every 6 months. I mean, we couldn't get enough of the abundant running (H O T) water A N D that you could actually drink the water that came out of the faucets!!! I remember drinking and drinking from Grandma's bathroom faucet just because I could!!! It was just amazing to me! Missionary kids DO have fun, don't they?!

    Can't wait to see you all! Love you!

  17. Dear Jolene,

    I loved your last post about the reverse culture shock. I really had some good laughs as I remembered all too well my first furlough at 12 years old! The automatic toilets, faucets, dryers, etc. were the worst for me too! We would jump back away from the toilet, then the faucet would come on, then another jump back and the hand dryer comes on! Talk about bewilderment. And in Bible college, I was continually self-concious that I would forget to flush the toilet trying to conserve water and totally embarrass myself as someone walked in after me! Yes, the blessings of being an MK! But I must admit, I feel much more at home on the field than in America. I totally understand what your kids are experiencing and I am sure mine will one day too.

    I am looking forward to your next e-mail.
    Love and prayers for you all,


Thank you for your encouraging comments! "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25