Preparing For Culture Shock

Photo by Michelle Greer

In just 9 days, I’ll be getting on a plane and heading home to the United States for the holidays.

It’s funny – because I’ve lived so long in Grenada (1.5 years), I get more of a culture shock going to the States than I do coming here. Here are a few things I’m prepping for.

The Fruit

The last time I went to the States, I had lived in Grenada for 10 months straight. I got home to Louisiana, walked into my in-laws house, and thought the fruit on their counter was fake.

Now, my in-laws are really not into fake fruit decor, so I pointed them out to my husband questioningly. “They’re real,” he said. Real fruit. “How weird,” I thought, “I should have realized that.”

Then, the next day I went to the grocery store near their house. I walked in, and the same thing happened. The fruit was glistening in the store. Every orange, every apple, every lemon was bright, big, and perfectly shaped. There, standing in the store, tears formed in the corners of my eyes. They weren’t happy or sad tears. They were just tears of being overwhelmed. It was all so bright and perfect looking.

Now that I eat fresh fruit picked off of the trees in our yard every day, I do know that fruit is supposed to look and taste like it does here in Grenada. I know that the best, sweetest bananas I’ve ever had in the world are right here, complete with brown spots, etc. all over the skin.

But, it does leave me wondering if I’ll be shocked this time around too.

The Christmas Madness

I wish each and every one of you could experience Christmas in Grenada. It’s quiet. Very few people put Christmas lights out. The kids don’t do the whole “Santa Claus” thing. They get one gift every year. This might sound sad to some, but I can tell you from experience that it’s actually much, much better than having commercials and ads assaulting your senses every day. There is Christmas music on the radio, and the mall is pretty empty.

I know that as soon as I land in New Orleans, it’s going to be Christmas Madness. While there are some things that I’m looking forward to, I know that the people I’ll encounter in stores and restaurants will be stressed and busy. I know that I’ll miss the peace that my little island offers.


I have been in “summer” for almost 20 months straight, peeps. When I went home to Louisiana last time, it was in May. While I know there won’t be snow or sub zero temperatures where I’m from, this gal is going to have to don a sweater. Of course, with this perk comes hot chocolate and roaring fires, etc. So, I think I’ll adapt to this one just fine.

What are your plans for the holidays? Is anyone going out of town? Visiting relatives far away?

About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford aka "Cat" is a personal finance freelance writer who currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband and spoiled pup, Julep. To learn more about her writing services, please visit her Hire Me page or e-mail her at Cat[at]BudgetBlonde[dot]com. Follow her on Google + to get all the latest updates.

Lovely comments:

  1. I think I might have to move there. :) Sound really nice. I don’t have any plans yet, even locally. Just playing it by ear and seeing what happens. :)

  2. Yesterday it was almost 80 up in north LA. Today it is 50. :) By the time you get here, it might be hot again.

  3. Sounds so nice there! Have fun on your visit home.

  4. Interesting point about the fruit. You have me drooling over memories of delicious bananas in South America!

  5. Yay! I can’t wait to see you guys. Do you have a ride home from the airport?

  6. I think I could trade only getting one Christmas gift for it being Summer all year long!

  7. Can I come visit?

  8. That sounds BLISSFUL, Cat. And enjoy your trip back!

    We’re just going into a glorious summer here (so nice after last year’s total damp squib) and I’m walking around every day with mad grin – how can you not when the sun is shining?

  9. I can relate so much to this reversed culture shock. I`m a Norwegian, and lived in Norway until I was 16. then I moved to a spanish island located outside of the northwest african coast. Life there is much more simpler, easygoing and very un-materialistic than Norway (many say it reminds them of south american way of living). I lived there for 3 years, until I had to return to Norway due to college etc. And after that long stay I`ve always found that I get this stronger feeling of belonging to this island, much more than I do in Norway.

    • Thanks for stopping in to my blog! That sounds like such an interesting switch! I’d love to hear more about that little island!


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