Christopher Vito: Back in America

The past week has been interesting. One week back in America and I’m still experiencing bursts of culture shock and just little moments where I realize something isn’t what I’ve become used to. . For example, this morning I was about to rinse my toothbrush with tap water from the sink and stopped myself for a second before realizing that the tap water here is actually safe to use. I mean of course I’ve been using it since I got back but typically without thinking about it. So this blog is just kind of a rambling list of what’s been going through my head since I’ve been back.
More than anything else, I’ve been seeing things I used to take for granted and realizing how nice they are Walking down the street it’s strange (and great) to not see malnourished dogs and horrible smelling open dumpsters at every corner. It’s nice to not be beeped at for no reason (people in EG use their horns for every possible reason and sometimes just do it for no reason). It’s nice to walk into a store and expect it to be different from every other store nearby. It’s nice to have a dishwasher. It’s nice to be able to drive places. And it’s especially nice to not feel the need to wash my hands every time I do anything.
But I also have been focusing much more on things that are unnecessary. I mean if you asked me to write a list of all the things that we don’t need but still use daily, I’d have probably given you a similar list before and after that trip. It’s not like I didn’t realize the extravagance of the typical American’s lifestyle (even those of us with less money). It’s just that now things are popping out at me and seeming blaringly obviously. People using disposable plates and cups, people driving places they could easily walk, people leaving their lights on at night, people having multiples of almost every belonging, people constantly eating out rather than making their own food, not knowing a person’s entire wardrobe just by seeing them every day for a week. That kinda stuff. We’ve got a very excessive and wasteful lifestyle in America and it’s a lot harder to just ignore that fact after you’ve been in a place where that simply isn’t the case. I think that’s a very valuable byproduct of my trip. I’m glad that all these things are now popping out and being thrown in my face. I’m glad that I feel totally fine drinking Philly tap water without filtering it and that I’m seeing all the things I don’t need. Spending time in EG forced me to be more conscious of how I do things in America and how I can make less of an impact (and also that I’m much less likely to be grossed out by things). I think I’ve learned quite a bit, and I’ve come out feeling more dedicated to trying to live without excess, and just generally more relaxed about quite a bit. I’m glad to be back home, but I’m more glad that I went away.

On a side note, it’s also been great to go to the grocery store and buy all sorts of American foods that I haven’t been able to have, like mac and cheese and chips and salsa. I also made a point to go out to Joe’s Steaks (previously Chink’s Steaks) to get a cheesesteak. Best in Philly, by a mile. It was the perfect way to celebrate being back home.

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