In 1992 my husband and I arrived in the Philippines with our three children, all under the age of 5. That reminds me, sometime I need to write about flying. But today I write about food surprises.
We lived very simply in the Philippines, especially when we were out in the village. Breakfasts were especially simple. During language school and when on the Wycliffe centre we had access to bread so we could make toast. Even then, though, there were few boxed cereals--corn flakes and maybe rice krispies. But out in the village there was nothing and I learned how to make very yummy granola in a cast iron frying pan. It became our staple.
Before going overseas, and in our first year overseas, we were required
to read a certain number of book on culture, cross-cultural living and
the different stages to expect when adjusting to life in a different
culture, especially a third-world culture. It was good reading and
helpful. However, when we returned back to Canada, we were given little to read regarding the reverse i.e. culture shock in the return.
I remember going grocery shopping for the first time upon return from the Philippines. There were changes, of course--new foods, new brand names. Nothing surprising. THEN I turned my cart into the cereal aisle. I remember freezing in my tracks. Cereal. Cereal. Cereal. A whole aisle--two rows--all devoted to cereal. I was overcome. It was a shock to my simple-lifestyle system. I cannot explain my emotions in that moment--fear, claustrophobia, sadness, shame, disdain. Just negative emotions. I just remember I was too overwhelmed to even look at it all. I quickly picked two cereals I was familiar with and got out of there.
The next time I went shopping, I prepared myself for the emotional onslaught and spent more time perusing the cereal aisle. I was okay. I could breathe. I learned to adjust to this small outcome of living in an affluent society. But even now, there are times I enter the cereal aisle and am reminded of that day and a tinge of emotion ripples at the bottom of my gut. It lingers still.