I’ve kept a list this time! Here are the things we have noticed so far about the Motherland that strike us as odd, exciting, special, or different.
Drinking fountains! My kids were suspiciously thirsty in public spaces for the first few days here in the US and I realized it was because they loved any excuse to drink out of a drinking fountain. WHAT a time and place to be alive, to have drinking fountains! They are like magic.
Bathroom stall doors with gaps, shoddy locks, no way of indicating if someone is in the stall, etc. It’s ridiculous. My kids got shy bladders the moment we walked into the bathroom near baggage claim at LAX and they realized that a) they could actually make eye contact with strangers while IN the stall ON the toilet, thanks to the gaps, and b) a good push made by someone who c) couldn’t tell if anyone was in the stall would bust the whole thing open anyway. America: look into better stall doors with little red/green indicators on the (sturdier!) locks!
English everywhere. When we first got here, Sterling kept asking, in wonder and awe, if everyone spoke English! And there are a ton more instructional/warning signs here, using words instead of pictures like we usually have in Europe. It sometimes feels like we’re being shouted at (in an informational/instructional way) everywhere we go. So yes, it’s very exotic to hear English everywhere but I will mention that on our fourth morning in America at a hotel in California we went down to breakfast and ended up sitting next to a family from Finland! It was bizarre.
Bathtubs. These are not a thing in Finland (some houses have them but they are very much the exception and not the rule) and so Sterling has been enchanted with actually taking a bath in a real, big bathtub here in the US.
Local TV news. We’ve caught glimpses here and there and it makes us laugh. It’s all TRAFFIC and HELICOPTERS and CAMS and WEATHER and TRAGEDY.
The lack of hot lunches. We drove 15+ hours from the LA area up to Portland and around 11 o’clock my kids started wondering where their hot lunch was. Finland has indoctrinated them.
Related to the above: rest areas! They have such nice ones here in the US! But they represent a different kind of road trip than Finland. There, rest areas are just brief pull-outs where you can change drivers or pee in the bushes (there are no services). Here, they are semi-fancy picnic areas with interpretive signs for local history, free maps, vending machines, bathrooms, pet areas, etc. In Finland on long drives, you just hold out for the inevitable gas station with a simple buffet restaurant attached, and that’s where you can go to the bathroom, eat, or stretch your legs. It’s just a different way of doing things.
Gender roles. This one might get its own post but yeesh, this place is dripping in gender roles! We passed a billboard yesterday advertising a gas station/travel plaza thing and it said “Moms love our restrooms!” and I just feel like…I mean…there is SO much going on there that I don’t even know where to start. Instead of sorting it out, on every stop of our travels since where I have visited a restroom, I have made sure to tell Jeremy afterward that, speaking as a mom, I really loved it.