Culture shock hits me hardest in Target. In New Zealand, Target is a furniture store no one seems to go to. In America, it’s my first stop for just about anything (well, except Costco pizza). Sure, it’s not the best quality and you could go to other places for cheap snacks. But nothing beats walking in those double-doors to a blast of “the Target smell”—a combination of soft pretzels, new denim, and your mom’s scented candles. You know you’ll find the familiar, no matter how long it’s been. Shoes come in half-sizes again and Quaker Oatmeal Squares are in the cereal aisle. Home.
But what happens when the familiar becomes foreign?
I was born and raised in Hawaii, and moved to New Zealand when I was eighteen. Despite being half-Kiwi, I still grappled with culture shock. I’d go back to Hawaii every one or two years, walk into Target, and breathe a sigh of relief. I love New Zealand supermarkets, but there’s nothing like seeing the cereal you had as a kid on the shelf. Yet as the years went on, Quaker Oatmeal Squares turned into a myth. Weet-Bix, along with many other things, was my new normal.
After an almost three-year absence, I decided to do a three-month writing course in my hometown of Kona. My first week back, I pushed my four-year-old niece, Lilly, around Target. I recruited her to help pick snacks—with the coffee filters in our cart, she pretended she was a cashier. Starting at the freezer section, we surveyed each aisle. Hot Pockets, Sun Ships, Nature Valley granola bars… to me, they were all a myth. A myth colliding with reality.
“Aren’t you gonna get anything?” Lilly broke my daze, wanting more items as cashier.
“Oh, yeah! Hold on…” I scanned the aisle for cereal. There it was: Quaker Oatmeal Squares.
For a moment, I attempted New Zealand dollar conversions in my head. But I gave up on my math, laughed, and handed Lilly the box.
Culture shock always hits me the hardest at home, because it’s where I’m not supposed to have it. Target gets the credit, but it happens in every supermarket. When travelling, we expect the big things to be different—mountains, roads, or rivers—but the little things make up our lives, too. Melted cheese on a slice of Costco pizza. A candle our mom used to own. Or even a box of cereal.
So take a moment to appreciate the little things.
All together, they make home.
Fri, 27 Apr 2018 07:38:50 GMT