I have always been fascinated by the idea of the reverse culture shock – coming home for the first time after moving abroad is supposed to hit you much harder than initially leaving.
So here I was during our recent Berlin visit, all prepared, bracing myself to get freaked out. And yes, I did notice a bunch of otherness – lower conversational noise levels, all sorts of prohibition signs, über-hipsters en masse, reasonable quantities of anything food, (and how is the sky bigger over Chicago?) – but no potential shock material.
Still, the trip left me with a pinch of confusion. Traveling both directions, I had the feeling I was headed home. Which I wasn’t prepared for.
Nine months ago, I left my hometown Berlin for Chicago with the three loves of my life – two of whom I had just given birth to. As a starting point to this blog, here’s a list of the top 10 surprises that awaited me. Very subjective, very random, high- and low-lights included.
1 | Q&L rock my world more than I could have ever known. I’m wondering what I did with all that love before they were here to absorb it. And, how many smiles can you fit in a day?
2 | Strolling along Lake Michigan in the crisp morning air makes me wanna be nowhere else on planet earth.
3 | Mayor Emanuel recently touted having gone the longest time without a murder in the city of Chicago: 5 days.
4 | A guy on the street apologized to me for walking next to us with a cigarette in his hand. Outside! I wanted to hug him and tell him to take this to Berlin.
5 | Our health insurance let us know, via invoice, that they’re not covering any routine baby care or immunizations. Babies have to get sick before insurance kicks in.
6 | I’m actually starting to enjoy chitchatting to strangers – not a very German trait. Can’t count the times I was randomly informed though that I’ve got ‘my hands full’ with the boys. Alternatively, that they’re ‘double trouble’.
7 | The insanity of the Republican primaries kept me wondering if this was all one giant comedy skit. Turns out it was not.
8 | My favorite basketball player is the son of my childhood tennis idol.
9 | Life with two bubbly mini people has actually made me a calmer person.
10 | The occasional homesickness, or any other problem, can instantly be cured by a sloppy baby kiss.