Here is a list of things that culture-shocked us after we settled down in a small city in the Pacific Northwest.
1. Cars stopping and waiting for you to cross. Even though you are not crossing at an intersection.
2. Highways (specifically, the interchanges) - it is easy to take for granted how well these are designed and maintained.
3. No pedestrians in the streets.
4. Everyone drives (usually, one person per car).
5. Buses are never crowded.
6. Where are the sky scrapers? In fact that is the first thing my grandmother asked: where are all the sky scrapers? We were surrounded by one- and two-story buildings.
7. Car phones (this was back in the 90's).
8. Hot dogs. Really? People eat dogs here?
9. Wonder Bread. Inedible, as we soon discovered.
10. Tomatoes that have no flavor.
11. Strangers smiling at you and saying hello. Creepy!!!
12. In school, test results are not announced by the teacher in front of the whole class. In fact, tests are placed face down on your desk, so that no one can see the grade.
13. Most teachers do not call on students during class. No one gets spontaneously called up to stand in front of the class, unless it's some sort of presentation that students had time to prepare for.
14. Pregnant girls in school. Girls bringing their kids to school picnic. (I thought they were younger siblings).
15. If you do't like your purchase, you can return it.
16. Vegetables and fruits are available at the supermarket all year round. They don't always taste the way the are supposed to.
17. When you want to buy salt, or sugar, or flour - you are faced with choices of multiple brands. Too many choices!!!
18. Salted cucumbers are called pickles.
19. Toasters. Why toast the heart and soul out of good, fresh bread?
20. Refrigerating and/or freezing bread. Now those toasters make a little more sense.
21. While we are on the subject of bread: most of inexpensive pre-cut, pre-packaged bread tastes like cardboard. Finding good-quality, tasty, fresh bread is still a challenge (and I've been here for more than 20 years).
22. Shopping in bulk.
23. Schools closed when an inch of snow fell.
24. Temperature and measurements - Fahrenheit! Feet! Miles! I knew that US had its own measurement units, but it still took years to get used to it.
26. Everyone wearing sneakers. All the time. Even with skirts. (I know it's not true - but it just looked that way).
27. Many women do not wear make-up.
28. Most women do not wear heels.
29. People wear weird stuff when they go grocery shopping (like pajamas... or lounge pants).
30. Doughnuts, sodas, marshmallows = yuck.* Even though everyone claims these things are amazing.
30. But the biggest culture shock of all was moving to Chicago after 6 years in the Pacific Northwest.
*That might be just a personal quirk - most of my extended family enjoys both doughnuts and soda drinks. Not sure about marshmallows.