A part of me is a creature of habit. Whereas the other parts are still discovering new ways of doing things. Growing up in a multi cultural family, I learned there was a blend of cultural ways, of doing things. Which also came with the constant side comments or argument of which cultural side is better, logical, faster, or beneficial.
When our family relocated back to America from England, my mother would say (in a full-on posh English accent) “…. that’s so American…” at a minimum rate of 10x a month. Of course the immediate retort would be, ”we’re in a America!” Poor Mum, she was out numbered by 3 to 2.
I loved growing up with a dual American and British side of doing things. And now, being in Singapore for almost 4 years, there are a few things that I have picked up that I will continue to do, when back in the States.
Lifestyle changes I will take with me
Growing up my mother would always tell us to remove our shoes when entering our home. Kicking off our shoes was programed into our young minds and our friends were to do the same. The front door was an enigma part of the home, as my parents would detour us to enter the garage door that led to the mud room. As that’s where the shoe racks were.
In Asia, removing shoes before entering a home is not just common practice but basic hygiene. And this isn’t for your own home, it’s when you visit other people’s homes as well. Removing shoes definitely keeps on our toes per say, when it comes to having pedicured and presentable feet. Or you can take the easy route and wear socks.
When I’m back in the States, I’d find myself always removing my shoes (in whoever’s home). I actually did this when attending a dinner party. Without thought, I removed my heels and walked around socializing with shoes wearing guests. I can only imagine what they thought of me (‘who’s this odd woman, walking around like she lives here?’).
If you really think about it, walking around with your shoes on at home, is gross. When we are out and about, we use public or office toilets, visit high traffic areas such as restaurants, bars, retailers, parking garages, gas stations, grocery stores. Then we walk into our home, bedroom, kitchen, etc. wiping whatever we picked up on the bottoms of shoes on the carpets, floors, and rugs.
And the kicker – you’re not the only one. Other family members or visitors are also wiping the bottom of their shoes all over the house. And who knows where they’ve been. Collectively, it’s a lot of yuck.
Drying clothes on a drying rack
An uncommon practice in the States, but not in the rest of the world. Is air drying clothes.
Dryers use a lot of power thus driving up an electricity bill. Not saying that I will be ditching the dryer. I think having fluffy towels are nice, but also if we live in a cool climate a dryer will be handy.
So, if the HOA isn’t a hard ass about hanging clothes outside, then yeah. I’ll be air drying my clothes outside. If not, then then I’ll be using a drying rack in a laundry room.
I thought I had everything on lock when being a host. Whether it was overnight guests or hosting a dinner party. I thought ensuring having enough food, keeping glasses filled, asking for any food allergies or requirements, was enough for being a good host.
That all went out the window until I experienced how this part of the world treats their guests.
I can’t tell you the amount of times, my husband and I would be in neighboring countries and our hosts would go above and beyond. The common theme would be, treat your guests like royalty.
Hosts would turn into a tour guide, treat you to the best local restaurants (far better than any tourist could find), and drive you around to show you as much as possible. And when there was something to pay for, they would quickly take care of it (very sneakily if I may add).
I believe the mentality comes from wanting to show you and having you enjoy everything their home has to offer. The goal is to give you the best experience made possible.
Sitting on the floor at home
Not because of a lack of furniture, but when you’re in a group. It’s not uncommon that some people would sit on the couch, while others are on the floor.
But most likely everyone is gathered around a coffee table, sharing conversation, drinks and nibbles.
It’s a casual setting that most decorate their sitting area with a comfortable and soft rug with LARGE floor pillows.
I’m surmising we will most likely have more than enough sitting available in our next home in the States. As sitting on the floor is not a usual way to hang out. But I will definitely invest in large pillows to pile up on when having home movie night.
Using public transportation
Thankfully we do not have a car. I haven’t driven a car since moving to Singapore. And I don’t miss it. At. All.
The public transportation here is incredibly cheap, very clean, timely, and efficient. And if and when I need a car. Grab (shared car service) or a taxi is always easy and quick to find.
When we do move back to the States, I would love to live in an area with a high walking score. Having easy walking access to grocery stores, retailers, cafes, and restaurants is a life changer. Add a public transportation system to the neighborhood, and your quality of life is kicked up a notch.
I know that’s a tall order for many American neighborhoods, but one can dream and hope.
Is it habit forming or lessons learned?
Whether I’m learning these new lifestyle changes because of my environment that’s combined with personal preferences. Or just plain ‘ole repetition. It goes to show that expat life continues to enlightens me and I hope to be continuously learning.