My First Week Home

So, I’ve survived my first week back in the motherland.  I’ve been excited, bored, overwhelmed, lonely, irritated, optimistic, and hopeful…pretty much every emotion in the book. This week we have purchased a new car, started our house hunt, furnished our temporary digs, started a new job (Chris has at least), watched many of our family of friends fight a flood, and have slept.  I’ve slept a lot!  Here are a few thoughts that have crossed my mind as I’ve gotten settled.

Relocating is exhausting.
I don’t know if I’m tired from jet lag, lack of schedule, or reverse culture shock but I’ve been averaging sleeping about 12 hours every day. I need to get a house and a job, stat.  Idleness and I really don’t get along.

I’ve missed chain restaurants.
While in Shanghai, I ate some of the most exotic, innovative, and refined international cuisine.  The meals were amazing, but I had forgotten how much I missed restaurants like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Ihop, and more!!  I love that some of these places never change.  Their meals are delicious, comfortable, and they provide enough food for a meal sized doggy bag. 

Chris and I enjoyed a lovely 19 years of dating meal at The Olive Garden!  It was a great retro date!  I've missed the endless bowl of salad!

How I've missed you Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuit!!

So many of these places have coupons for free deserts!!!  I've missed coupons!!!!!

There is something incredible about bottomless soft drinks and not having to point to a menu while ordering.  I took these restaurants for granted before living abroad. 

Florence has a plethora of Midwestern restaurant goodness!  I need to be careful, however.  I don’t want to have to purchase an entire new wardrobe.

Shopping in America can be overwhelming, especially when you aren’t in hoarding mode.
Shopping at grocery and superstores is incredibly overwhelming.  The second day we were in Kentucky, Chris and I spent about three hours in a Meijer.  (For those of you who don’t know Meijer, it is a magical hybrid of Target and Walmart.)  We didn’t buy an enormous amount of things…it took us forever to select what we needed.  The variety of everything from bread to salad dressing mix was so overwhelming. 
It took me a good 10 minutes to decide on which bread to purchase.  When did Hidden Valley come up with six different types of ranch dressing mix?  

I’ve missed my crock pot…and the ingredients that I needed to make yummy dinners.
While we had a crockpot in China, I rarely used it because western ingredients were a tad pricey. I’m really having fun breaking in my new crock-pot and cookbook. 

Since all of our kitchenware is either in storage or in our airfreight, we splurged for a new crock pot.  Dinner is MUCH yummier when you don't have to pay $5 for a can of soup!!

Crockpot food + Pumpkin Candle = one good smelling apartment.

While we were gone, Americans somehow became obsessed with pumpkin flavoring.
I know it is autumn, but I don’t remember seeing so many products with pumpkin flavoring in the grocery stores!  It seems like EVERY product…pancakes, coffee, candles, cookie mix, and even apple cider is being infused with pumpkin seasoning!

This pumpkin cider is actually quite tasty.  I'm a fan!

Chris’ negotiation training and my experience in the Shanghainese markets prepared us for car negotiations.
After haggling with Chinese Ayis in the fake markets, I am no longer intimidated by pushy car salesmen!

Since we only had a 10 days corporate car rental, we had to buy a car pretty quickly.  So our first weekend in Kentucky was spent searching for the perfect slightly used car.  Chris had a great time spending weeks researching the cars he wanted and walked into each dealer with a highly specific checklist of what he wanted and information about each car on the lot that fit his criterion for the perfect car.  I played the role of the annoyed wife.  (Honestly, it wasn’t a stretch for me.  I viewed car shopping as a necessary hassle.)

After driving all over the Northern Kentucky/ Cincinnati area for two days, Chris finally found his car.  Bargaining for it was incredibly amusing.  The salesman, the sales manager, and Chris kept going back and forth over $1500 dollars.  The salesmen were using every bargaining stunt in the book.  (The car at the other dealership you were looking at wasn’t the same model.  You have to keep in mind this car came to us in PERFECT condition…it’s never been in an accident. )  So Chris gave the sales manager the “I’m going to have to think about it” response.  The sales manager gave us the “Oh, my dealership sells 160 cars per month you may not want to take too long to think about it” line. 

At that point, I’d had it.  While that fact may have been true, there is NO way I was going to fall for that line.  I looked at the manager and said,

“If someone else comes in and buys this car, then it just wasn’t meant to be.  Thank you for your time.”  Then I walked out of the dealership and waited for Chris to join me.  Five minutes later Chris comes out and informs me that we can get the car at our desired price. 

Thank you, pushy fake market salespeople.  I’m no longer afraid to walk away from a lousy deal.

Chris is quite excited his new Toyota! It only took two days of hunting and a couple of hours of negotiating to find the right one.
I wish I could move our house in SC to KY.
Now that we have a car, it’s time to look for a new rental place to live.  (We are only scheduled to live in this area for two years at the longest, and still own our home in South Carolina so we aren’t looking to buy a house)  Chris’ company has us housed in a cozy, (read small) temporary apartment, but we need to be out by the end of November.   

As I look at other potential rental homes, I realize that I’m really missing our house in South Carolina!  I miss our fenced in backyard, our perfect floor plan that is neither too large nor too small, and my office/craft room oasis. 

I know that we will find our perfect Kentucky home, but it may take a while to find our new place.  We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

I’m ready to start exploring Cincinnati and the Midwest.
One of my first purchases in Cincy was a new book that lists some exciting places to visit.  I can’t wait to explore, shoot, and blog!

Look out Midwest!  Here I come!

Long story short, while I’m trying to manage my reverse culture shock I am glad to have repatriated to the Midwest.   Now, it’s time to reunite with my high school friends!

P.S.  In light of the recent flooding in SC, Some people have asked about the condition of our house.  We were incredibly fortunate to have been spared any damage.  However many of our friends weren’t as fortunate.  If you want to lend a hand, please click here.

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