Switching countries, and continents, is like a train transferring diagonally across to another track. The hiccups and bumps of the transition highlight my own cultural norms.
My flight was screwed up because of an emergency medical landing in Phoenix. Only days ago I had been wondering what would happen if you had a medical emergency on a plane - and of course, as the "collective unconscious" would have it I got to find out first hand. We landed in time to have paramedics take out a man who had been unconscious for a solid half hour.
So, that has landed me on a detour here in Manchester waiting to go to Zurich. Entering the Manchester airport I immediately noticed the 1990s, neon, geometric carpet in the entryway bringing a flashback of the night I slept in the Liverpool airport 2 years ago. I vowed that night, as I clutched my bags and watched a raving madman off the streets pace the entryway, that I would never again try to save money by taking Ryanair flights and would always taking the direct route.
Today I gasped as we drove into oncoming traffic in my shuttle bus- only to remember, right, I am in England. The shuttle brought back memories of my ride from Kaunus to Klaipeda sandwiched by two drunk Lithuanian men, drinking vodka out of a huge bottle and trying to get me to join what they had made their own party bus.
Another little difference that always catches me off guard, no matter how many times and places I've been in Europe, is European men's fashion and style. I don't think I have any European friends reading this blog, so I will just say it... it is far more effeminate. More polished, with little traveling bags and fitted clothing. Pastel shirts, cups of tea, cuffs and collars. A much larger range of hair styles from euro-mullet, to fohawk. The topics men talk about, the way the cross their legs is vastly different than the midwestern-American-man image I have seared in my brain. Currently I am feeling out which I prefer. And surprisingly I'm leaning toward midwestern outdoorsman.
Since my mom decided to watch "Taken" last night before I left for Europe, I am sitting here in the Starbucks airport kiosk wary of any strange approaching men. I know at the very least, if I feel too unsafe I can go and huddle in the bathroom near the Kimberly-Clark toilet paper dispenser and feel more at home.