I feel like the last 10 years of my life I've been eating, sleeping, breathing, living the field of medicine. I've gradually realized this has left me a little socially stunted. What do "normal" people talk about?
1. No sense of appropriate dinner table conversation.
So he had all the signs and symptoms of a large bowel obstruction, but when we got in there, we found he was full of worms!....are you going to eat that last bit of spaghetti??
2. Asking difficult questions of a personal nature becomes second nature. Sometimes I'm so comfortable with it, it carries over into my personal (non-professional) life.
No example needed for this one, folks. You've all had those awkward conversations with your doctor.
3. Working as a missionary is an intense environment. Visitors come and friendships are forged quickly, usually as a coping mechanism.
Hi, how are you? What's your story? How are you doing? Let's talk about what happened today...two kids died and we did an emergency c-section. Let's talk about how you're coping with what you've gone through today.
4. No idea of what to talk about other than medicine, missions and cultural differences and similarities. Is there really anything else to discuss? ;-)
I know there is more to discuss, I just get tired of superficial conversations. There is only so much one can say about the weather, the holidays, etc. Sometimes I need help coming up with other topics of conversation.
5. I don't know what to say when I see someone eating.
In French culture, it is polite to say "bon appetit" when you see someone eating. It's rude to say nothing.
In American culture, you come off sounding snobbish if you say "bon appetit". It's still a little awkward to say "enjoy your meal", because we usually just don't say anything.
6. I'm more observant than the average person. Some people may find this freaky, or think I'm stalking them...really, I'm just observant. (I'd like to think of myself as a female Sherlock Holmes...not really, I'm not THAT observant). I think I need to learn to filter better what observations I express.
"Did you notice the faint petechial rash on her lower extremities?"
"Where did I leave my sunglasses?" "On the kitchen counter."
"Where is my wallet?" "On the table behind the computer"
"He's got six fingers on his left hand..."
7. The 5 second rule has become the 30 second rule (or one minute rule), especially for precious food items.
I will pick up cheese and other food items dropped on the floor, rinse or brush it off, and then eat it. You don't realize how precious some things become until you've lived without it...cheese, chocolate, and butter are among them. Apparently this is not as acceptable in the US...
8. Most of my jokes are of a medical nature...not everyone gets them.
"Rectum? Darn near killed em'!"
"There's nothing funny about a humerus fracture."
9. I've become a little more bossy than I used to be...
I've gotten used to giving orders, as well as others gathering the necessary equipment to help me accomplish a task. I've realized since being home that I need a better balance. While it is good to let your needs be known, it's important to still serve others.
10. I no longer know what is the most appropriate way to greet someone. Is it simply a nod? A handshake? A hug? A kiss on the cheek? A kiss on each cheek? Three kisses, alternating cheeks?
This gets to be very awkward when you mix them up, or do all of them at once. So folks, if I stick out my hand to shake it, please don't leave me hanging! I'm just trying to be polite, though I may forget what culture it is I'm in.