Posted by: sheenastrain | September 12, 2008

Culture Shock

Columbus, MS

Having been here for a month and in our home for a week the inevitable culture shock has set in. While not entirely unexpected it has caught me out at times. Mostly it amounts to missing all that’s familiar, usually with a good dollop of sentimentality thrown in, and comparing all that is different about our new country with what we’ve left behind. Last week I had a sudden and inexplicable urge to find Mcvities digestives, I even resorted to trawling the Internet for a recipe and making my own, but they weren’t anything like the real thing. I can buy them on Amazon but I can’t quite bring myself to pay $4 per packet.

TV adverts here are annoyingly frequent and vary widely. They include advertisements for numerous fast food outlets, diet milk shakes, prescription drugs and bickering local politicians. In between the adverts we watched the Olympics every evening. Cheering for Michael Phelps and Shawn Johnson was a little odd, but then we had little choice as the US channels weren’t given to covering the British team’s exploits. I couldn’t tell you the names of any of the British medal winners, I take it they did win some?

Developing a necessary obsession with the weather is something that comes easily for me. Mississippians are well versed in the art of weather watching, with tornadoes thunderstorms and hurricanes being part of the average summer you can’t afford to ignore the warning signs. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike have been headline news in between the political discourse. We are too far north in the state to have any significant problems from any hurricanes but they do get tornadoes here from time to time.

On the plus side I have found the people here to be very warm and friendly and always wanting to make sure you are well fed. Customer service is good when you are dealing with local businesses, though anytime you have to phone a bigger service provider for customer service you usually end up speaking to ‘Bernard’ or ‘Kevin’ in a call centre in Asia somewhere, so just like home then…
The wildlife and fauna are obviously different and it’s been a delight to watch huge butterflies and hummingbirds from the backdoor. Despite my constant entreaties to the contrary, the boys are convinced there are rattlesnakes under the porch. I’m not sure where that notion came from but they enjoy talking about it.

So it might take a while, but I think we’ll manage fine without digestive biscuits and Gordon Brown.



  1. We’d be happy to bring you back some digestives from Scotland when we go later this month. I’ll give you a call soon to chat more about culture shock. 🙂

  2. I’d send you some McVities but I’m pretty sure you can already get cookie crumbs in the States…

  3. I am amazed you actually made digestives!! We do buy them from time to time, there are a few places around here to get them but they’re about $4 a pack here, too.

    By the way, this is completely random, but I keep meaning to tell you how much I am enjoying the Amy Macdonald CD! I especially like to put it on when I’m needing motivation to do something like clean the kitchen- I turn it up loud and sing along. 🙂

  4. It’s so interesting reading your perspective of living there and thinking about here… my posts used to be the exact same, only opposite! So I know how you feel, just missing the ordinary and familiar. I hope you find all the good things about the states (and hopefully they’ll outnumber the bad). And I hope you make friends and new, good memories quickly. 🙂 Next time I’m in Arkansas (if it’s longer than just a week or something) we should try to meet up!

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