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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Feeling Like An Expatriate At Home, Too

Pity the expat Moscowvillian. This is the Moscowville resident who goes home after adapting to life in Moscow only to discover that his troubles have just begun. Adapting to life back home after over-exposure to Moscow can be almost as challenging as learning the ways of Russia's capital in the first place.


On paternity leave in the United States for the last three weeks I have already been presented with a hefty assortment of adaptations.


Courtesy. Was it this way when I left? A person unaccustomed to the daily barrage of "Hellos", "Heys", "How are yous? " "How ya doins" and "Thank you very muches" here could feel downright uncultured.


These trappings of polite culture can get a little exhausting for someone who has grown used to Russia's directness.


Pennies. In the entire city of Moscow, I doubt that more than seven pennies are actually in circulation. After three years in Moscow, I forgot that these copper cents existed. I now have a drawer full of them. What shall I do with them?


Prices. Shortly after coming here, I bought a gallon of water. It cost 20 cents. I handed the cashier $2. After years of exposure to the $4. 50 cup of Moscow coffee I have lost all sense of what things are worth.


Plugs. These are the bane of Moscowville residents. Three-prong plugs, flat plugs, thin round plugs, fat round plugs and directional plugs. The world can set complex computer communication standards, so why are there more kinds of plugs than languages in the world?


After spending three years accumulating a drawer full of adaptors, I thought my frustrations were over. Yet I had been in the United States less than a week before I found myself in an electronics store buying, you guessed it, a European-American plug adaptor.


The television trap. Poor quality Russian television programming has so lowered my standards that American television looks almost . . . good. Granted, it is violent, stupid and chaotic. In my absence, they have introduced cop shows that show actual crimes, and a such glut of talk shows that hosts are trying to outdo each other to the point that a recent show featured a panel of cross-dressing rapists. Why? Still, it's hard to turn of. Which brings me to . . .


Commercials. Not much has changed here. Sex still sells beer and the pink Eveready bunny is still going. and going.


It should not seem odd that, under no circumstances is it necessary to dial "8" before calling long distance. Yet it does. Touch-tone dialing seems futuristically fast. It would be nice, however, if long distance calls rang at double speed like in Moscow.


Standards. What Russians and Americans expect out of life and their governments are so different that the expatriate Moscowvillian can feel like a person without a country. National debates over health care, sexual harassment and the fight against crime seem to be going on over my head, so different is my perspective.


An influence peddling case such as one covered daily in the press here in Florida wouldn't be worth mentioning in Moscow. In Russia's capital, it would be daily event, biznes.


For us expatriate expats, like it or not, I fear that home will never look the same again.