Drinking lime juice in a plastic bag.
Joo Chiat, Singapore.
It's been a little less than two months since we moved back to San Jose and, to be honest, the settling in process can be summed up in one word: underwhelming. Even our most routine days held some sort of discovery for us while living in Singapore. That's not to say that we are miserable or unhappy here; it's just taking us some time to get used to the predictability and familiarity we once took for granted.
I stripped down to the bare basics of what I needed to live comfortably and happily while I was abroad. Jeff, the dogs, and a little bit of personal belongings. We lived pretty minimally and it was wonderfully liberating. Now we're dealing with "stuff." We've started accumulating things to replace what we got rid of before we left. I am trying to moderate what we have so we don't get too weighed down with things. The biggest purchase so far has been a car, which we need. California is big.
As familiar as my hometown might be, I'm trying to approach it with a fresh perspective. I am curious about the places I used to drive past and not give a second thought to. I have a lot of exploring and rediscovering to do, like how I used to do in Singapore. The entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley runs rampant and as a result, there are lots of things for San Joseans to experience. (I'm hoping this will give me more to blog about, too.)
Sunset in Half Moon Bay.
Here are a bunch of other assorted observations I've made since returning to California:
-Gas is expensive. I remember it being a little more than $3 a gallon before we left. Now it's over $4 a gallon.
-Alcohol is cheap. I have to do a double-take when I see the prices for beer and wine sometimes. I can buy a good bottle of red wine for about what a glass of wine would cost me in Singapore.
-Customer service is great just about everywhere, usually. Waiters and waitresses are observant and polite; sales associates are knowledgeable and usually know how to solve a problem. I have yet to encounter the "cannot compute" attitude of customer service in Singapore.
-Businesses have websites that are actually helpful, not just Facebook pages (if that). And while we're on the subject of businesses, people actually answer the phone with "Name of business, how can I help you?" instead of a confused "Hello?"
-Fresh produce is a beautiful thing. A lot of the stuff sold in our grocery store's produce department is grown a few hours away in the Central Valley. The fruits and veggies I buy are fresh, flavorful, and not individually wrapped in plastic. Avocados are our biggest indulgence lately.
-I can find pants and shoes that actually fit. I found a style of jeans I liked so much that I bought three pairs of them.
-People are so friendly! This has probably been my most favorite observation since I moved back. I have had great chats with people in my building's elevator, at coffee shops, and at hockey games. Even runners on the street will manage to huff out a "hello" as they pass me by. Sometimes, eye contact and a smile are all it takes to make my day.
I read somewhere that it takes about a year to fully repatriate to one's country of origin. Readjusting definitely isn't happening overnight, but I hope it doesn't take as long as a year. With expatriation came a lot of external changes, the most obvious being moving abroad and living somewhere completely new. But as I'm repatriating, I'm realizing that the changes are taking place from within. It's frustrating and emotional at times, but I know I'll be a better person because of it. ♡