I have noticed since arriving here in Scotland that whenever I see an American flag (which has probably always been while watching a DVD) something wells up in me. It's hard to explain that emotion, but I suppose it is national pride combined with a touch of homesickness-or longing for "home." Each time I've seen it, this has happened. It's one of those weird things you don't realize you miss or even notice that you aren't seeing it on a regular basis until you see it again--and then you see it afresh and are thankful for what it stands for and means to be an American. I remember once spending some time with an exchange student from Germany who was staying with some friends of mine. She noted how many places the American flag is flown. So many businesses, residents, restaurants, and obviously government buildings display them. Maybe that's why the absence of them is even stronger in my mind during this period away. I was used to seeing them numerous times a day and now it is maybe once a month.
Somewhat related is the realization that I am becoming more accustomed to life here. For example, I just typed "realisation" with an "s" and had to change it to a "z." I'm so used to having to use "s" at work instead of "z's" that it is sometimes hard to go back and forth when I write to Americans! But the example I set out to share was about the slight shock I got at work yesterday. I was asked to go through a bunch of reference letters and test scores (like SATs) to write application numbers on them. Most of them were from the US and therefore on US sized 81/2 x 11 paper. Normal, right? Ah, to me it seemed "weird" and looked a bit odd after working so regularly with the UK's A4 paper, which is slightly longer and more narrow. It really did startle me that I had become so accustomed to something here that something from my homeland seemed odd. I suspect that this will only be one of many reverse cultural shocks I will receive in the next month as we arrive back in the US.