07 August, 2014

Culture shock–grocery shopping

It is common for missionaries to talk about the re-entry culture shock of grocery shopping. Japan to Australia isn't as bad as from a country like the Philippines. Check out this missionary's photo comparisons:
This is one of the stores I regularly shop at in Japan. There
are usually more bikes than cars in the "car"park.

Our experience isn't quite as stark, but it still is a challenge. To go from almost no choice on some things to large amounts of choice is hard. 

What makes it harder is that you actually "want it all". When we're in Japan there is food we miss. There is food we dream about. Choices we wish we had. Then, all of a sudden, we are presented with all the possibilities of our dreams. It is tempting to buy it all.

Then there is the financial challenge on a couple of fronts.
1. We're used to how much things cost in Japan, especially most groceries. We know what a good deal is and when something is too dear. We don't know that anymore in Australia. Not only are we not used to dealing with Australian currency any more, prices have changed while we were away. It is no longer clear what is a good price.
There are four aisles this long, way smaller than
a large supermarket in Australia. But then, they
don't stock everything I want. But they do have all
the regular things I need, so I'm happy.
The shopping trolleys are small too.

2. There are a lot of set-up costs involved in moving country. We had a lot of help  in setting up the large items in our house, and I mean stacks, to the point that we now have two microwaves, two vacuum cleaners, three printers, and seven mattresses in our house. Despite this we found ourselves reeling a little under the various other things that we needed to purchase, including school uniforms and books. Setting up the pantry has been an expensive deal too, even though I'm a cautious buyer. It's been important to me, because I know that a well set-up pantry will save us money in the long run. This is especially as I look at prices for take-away and restaurant meals in Australia and realise that feeding my hungry family of boys will really eat into our budget, if we rely on take-away meals too often.

Some people suggested early on that to deal with the stress of grocery stores I should go to smaller ones with less choice. Unfortunately those smaller stores are usually more expensive, which would have exacerbated the financial stress I was already feeling.

I'm not writing this to complain. We have enough. We have a lot more than some people in this country! I am very thankful. But I'm writing this as a portion of what my lengthy answer would be to the question: "How are you settling?"

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