Hopped off the plane at LAX…

…with culture shock.

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You would think that growing up in America and living here for 20 years that I would have no problem adjusting back. I’ve been in Lax for an hour and am already feeling some weirdness and reverse culture shock back into my known world. This is keeping me busy while waiting for my boarding time. Here are some of the observations:

  • America is a plugged in society. Everyone is tied to their phone. Sitting here in Starbucks, every other person is either talking on their phone or looking at their phone. Even the girl in the bathroom was talking on her phone, in the stall! I’m now able to be plugged in just as much now that i have AT&T and 4G networks on my phone. I suppose it is because lots of people are traveling for work so they need to work from the road (or air). This is different from the mostly backpacking travel that I have been experiencing.
  • It was so uncommon to see American clothing brands while abroad. It was almost easy to spot an American in Australia because we do dress differently. The typical brands of longchamp bag, ugg boots, and clothing styles of boots, cardigans, leggings have now re-entered my lifestyle.
  • I bought lunch here and was so pleased with the prices agin – even though they were high airport prices, they are cheaper than the Australian prices. It was different to use the notes and change of our country again and to have a tax charged to the price.
  • There are definitely two extreme food cultures in the US. In the airport terminal, there is a Burger King and Starbucks where the two cultures are really apparent. There’s the half that eats fast foods because they are cheap and easy but unhealthy. The people then often struggle with obesity and inherent health problems… This is its own issue of America above and beyond my airport observations. The other extreme is a skinny mindset where the people obsess about avoiding the bad foods. This was apparent at the Starbucks line where the woman ordered a salad with no dressing and a coffee with nonfat foam. The people sitting at the tables were talking about cleansing diets and others walking by are talking about their exercise routines.
  • Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, I do always appreciate the spirit of the season leading up to the holiday. A lot of that spirit comes from the weather changing and since I’ve gone from summer to spring to summer to tropics, there has been no sense of winter. The airport has Christmas decorations all over, wreaths, ornaments, and trees and music playing. People are wishing eachother a happy holidays.  In Fiji, there were lights and few decorations and I almost forgot it was the holidays.  Even though Hanukkah is in 2 days!
These differences have been the norm in my life. Traveling and experiencing the opposite side of the world has made me apparent of all of these differences that make America, America.  It will be interesting to transition back into this society.
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Moce (Goodbye) Fiji

Today, December 6, I finished my tour of the island. I enjoyed the morning talking with girls who have been traveling and working in Fiji for 3 months. They shared their experiences working in a village and how much it had meant to them. I’ve really valued meeting people from all over the world and sharing stories. That’s a big part of traveling that ties people together.
We left the Volivoli Beach Resort after lunch and drove a couple of hours. In between Nadi and Lautoka, we stopped at a Sabeto Mud Baths and hot springs pool. We went in the mud pit and lathered ourselves up in a soft mud.  It was squishy and felt good to rub all over my skin. To wash off the mud, there was a hot spring to dip into. The combination was relaxing and made my skin soft. Although I really wish I had a nice shower before my flight.
Soaking in the mudbath before rinsing in a hot spring

Soaking in the mudbath before rinsing in a hot spring

After the baths, we did another cultural experience. We visited the largest orphanage of Fiji located in Nadi. I have to say, I did not like this experience. I felt that it was not right for us to tour a children’s home by just stopping in, looking at their home, and playing with them for a short period of time. It was hard to interact with the children other than a short jumprope or exchanging names. We did buy presents to give to them that were only just accepted in by the host mothers. The briefness of the visit and the small exchange made me feel really uncomfortable being there – and wish we had just donated the presents. I suppose, it was all part of the experience but I really felt that the tour could do without that. The timing of the experience was also misplaced because right after, we were dropped off at our different locations – others to hotels on the island and me to the airport. I’ve checked in and am waiting while my flight is delayed half an hour. I may as well enjoy my last Fiji gold beer while I wait for this late flight. At least I will sleep the whole way there.
I’ve taken tons of photos playing with my SLR here has been keeping me busy and been lots of fun.  I’ve been posting a lot on Facebook and may end up making a photography site to share more.