I have a confession to make. I am cheap.
No really, I am. I don't like to pay a lot of money for anything.
This is causing some issues here in Switzerland, where everything is expensive!
I was a librarian for more than 10 years. Trust me when I say that librarians make very little money. (Especially given the fact that an advanced graduate degree is required, but that's a topic for another post!)
As a result, I have spent most of my adult life scrimping and saving and literally living from paycheck to paycheck. I never thought about it that much. It was just the way I lived and it was familiar to me.
Even after we got married and there was breathing room, I have continued to live with a close eye to how much things cost and am known to frequently say things such as "we don't really need that." Much to GLH's frustration, I might add. But we lived in Kansas City, with a very low cost of living even by American standards. So it wasn't a big deal.
Since moving to Switzerland, I am now in a near state of shock. Even a trip to the grocery store causes heart palpitations. After the exchange rate, a box of cereal is nearly $5! GLH loves roast beef sandwiches, but at the equivalent of $42 per pound he'll have to get used to ham. And the other day I figured out the exchange rate for a small steak. $60 per pound? I don't think so!
Do not even get me started on the cost of clothes and so on. I desperately need to go shopping. I've lost over 15 pounds since moving here. My clothes are literally falling off. But I just cannot see myself paying 150 CHF for a pair of jeans. Not when I am accustomed to popping into the store and paying $30 for ones that are just as nice. And are easily found in a Size Tall. We were planning a trip to the United States some time this Spring. I'll buy clothes then.
Before moving here I was warned to prepare for the culture shock. I was told that following the long list of rules is what triggers it in most Americans.
The rules are not so bad. After all, I was brought up in a German-American family. Rules are a way of life.
It's the shopping that is causing the culture shock for me!