When you move to a different country you become immune to many “normal things” that at first you thought were weird. Here are some *prizes* for my favorite normal things from life abroad:
1. Dirty streets, dirty feet [Bolivia]
Yes, you can get used to your feet being constantly caked in dust. In fact, in some places you really don’t have a choice.
In Senegal my host mother always insisted I wash my feet to avoid microbes “getting me,” but after spending 8 hours a day like this, I bet the microbes still “got me.” Bolivia wins the prize on this though, because nobody there ever suggested I wash my feet.
2. Street animals [Turkey]
In some places it’s goats and sheep, in others its dogs.
Some have homes, others are wild.
At first you take pictures and ask what’s being done for them, but eventually you get used to their presence.
Turkey takes the prize because of its cats… they are literally everywhere.
3. One potato. Two carrots. [Spain]
I remember being very taken aback the first time I realized that I could buy only the singular fruits and veggies that I needed.
When I lived in Spain I had a fruit store on the corner, a bakery down the street and a small grocery store that saved all the weird-shaped tomatoes, like this one, just for me.
4. No silverware. Just your hand. [Senegal]
I cannot stress how much I LOVE eating with my hand.
It gives you intimacy and connection with your food.
Senegal wins the prize for teaching me to do it right. Even though I only lived in Senegal for 5 months, I still use my hand for rice dishes when I’m home alone.
5. Poor translations. [Czech Republic]
Every non-English speaking country gets credit for this one, but the Czech Republic wins this prize. I’ve seen many botched restaurant menus, but the Czech apparently dared to translate poetry at Gregor Mendel’s garden in Brno.
That said, the “30 Second Dispel Horniness” L’Oréal cream is my all-time favorite find. I found it in Turkey but since there was no Turkish on the packaging, it can’t qualify the country for a win.
6. Explaining Arkansas. [Wikipedia]
No matter where I go I always have to explain something about my state. That’s especially true when I gawk at funny-shaped tomatoes or my roommate comes home and I’m eating dinner with my hand.
What is life like in Arkansas? Thankfully, Wikipedia has always been there to help me find the words: