...Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...

Hebrews 12:1-2

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sam in the States: Adventures in Reverse Culture Shock and Other Surprises

I'm back in the States! It's all very surreal to be home. A lot of things haven't changed but there are so many things I am just not used to anymore. After living in Ireland for almost a year, I knew I was bound to have a bit of culture shock. While a lot of it is subconscious and I can't really explain how I feel, there are some things that I can really notice, even though it's only been two days. Rather than tweeting all of these things as they happen (because it would be really annoying to constantly blow up your news feed), I figured I'd write a blog post about it. I may add more as they come up, but here are a few things I've written down that have surprised me:

On the plane flying into New York:
  • There are so many highways, cars, trees, houses, and baseball fields!
  • There's also a very loud, proud New Yorker sitting behind me whose voice is really grating my nerves. Sir, I cannot handle your accent right now. Please shut up.

  • So many big cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks on the road!
  • I keep trying to get in the wrong side of the car. 
  • Being a passenger is scary because I keep thinking we're turning on the wrong side of the road.
  • Driving takes A LOT of concentration. It's not so bad on busy roads where I have other cars to follow, but I have to constantly ask myself, "Am I driving on the correct side of the road? This does not feel right...".
  • I drove down the street on the left side yesterday in my friend's neighborhood. I didn't realize what I was doing until I saw the stop sign on the right side of the road. Oops. 

  • There are so many channels and so many commercials! 
  • The drug commercials are particularly weird. 
  • I need to catch up on a lot of shows... 

At home:
  • I keep trying to use plug adapters for my appliances... oh yeah... don't need those. 

  • Sitting in a restaurant and being surrounded by intense Philly accents. Where am I!?!
  • Friends asking me to repeat everything I say and pointing out my "Irish" accent. I'm sorry but I don't realize I'm doing it and I may phrase things differently and use strange words but please stop pointing  it out. "Half 2", "craic", "sound", "so", and "like" are perfectly acceptable expressions, thank you very much. 

Joyful Surprises:
  • Goldfish!!! I missed those cheesy suckers!
  • Rediscovering my wardrobe! I had forgotten how many clothes I had and summer clothes are my favorite! Gotta love my 6 pairs of sandals!
  • Heard Olly Murs on the radio! I didn't realize he had hit the States. I found myself singing along to "My Heart Skips a Beat" in the car and then remembered I wasn't in Ireland. 
  • Realizing I don't need to pick out a cardigan to go with my outfit because it's literally 100 degrees (37.8 C) outside.
Update on other things I've noticed....
  • Eggs are white... weird
  • The grocery store has way too many options. Who needs 50 different spaghetti sauce options!? 
  • No Glenisk yogurt here :( 
  • On a positive note, you can now buy Dairy Milk here and Hershey's chocolate syrup is only $1.99!?! That sure beats 6 euro...
  • Still forgetting I'm in America when I hear people with American accents
  • A week later and no one understands what I'm saying. Trying to speak like an American is like having marbles in my mouth and hurts my ears... I must find some Irish locals before I pull my hair out...
More updates....
  • I keep typing ".ie" on the end of web addresses
  • I have to stop myself from saying "euro" and force out the obligatory "bucks"

Culture shock is quite the adventure...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


It is my last week of life in Ireland. Up until this point I've been trying to ignore the fact that I have to go back to Philly, but I can no longer use my defense mechanism of pretending its not happening. I've had a few weeks after Relay to reflect on this year and how its changed me as a person, and when I was thinking of how to possibly sum it all up, I thought of something that happened a couple of weeks ago:

I was at the Peters' house for a Tuesday night dinner with a bunch of people. Some of my new American friends were teasing me that when I talk to Irish people I suddenly sound Irish myself. (I am aware that this happens but I promise you I don't do it on purpose... it's just what happens when you live in a different country for a year). So when Abigail (an Irish student) sat down to talk with us, suddenly all eyes (ears) were on me to hear my accent change. Knowing they were listening, I refused to speak more than a couple of words at a time, much to the frustration of the Americans in the room. Zach filled Abigail in on our conversation about my accents and asked her if she heard it. Her response, though not intended to be profound in any way, really struck a chord with me. She said, "I don't hear Irish or American. It's just Sam." 

I am neither Irish nor American (or maybe I'm both). I don't belong here nor there (or maybe I belong in both places). I am just Sam.

More importantly, my nationality is "child of God" and my citizenship is in God's Kingdom. I can live anywhere in the world and have any profession but my adoption as God's child will not change. My identity is secure in Him. This world will crumble and fade away, but my home in heaven will always be there.

Leaving Ireland is sad. This has been my home for the past 11 months. I've made friends and family here. But I know that whether I'm in Cork, Philly, or somewhere else in the world, my citizenship is in heaven. Whether I feel Irish or American, or whether I speak in a Cork or Philly accent, I am first and foremost a Christian.  No matter where I am or what I'm doing, I can take comfort in knowing that I am in Christ.

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ"
Philippians 3:20

"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir."
Galatians 4:4-7