Even though I’ve been back and forth between the US and Russia a few times now, until yesterday I’d never done it all in one day. I had always combined it with some trip to western Europe. So yesterday’s 12 hours of flying and a full 8 hours of jet lag is a first for me.

I’d been out of the US for nearly 9 months. The funniest culture re-entry shock moment happened while boarding my connecting flight in Frankfurt. I got on an elevator and an American hippie college girl got on behind me. “Do I smell? Like smoke?” she asked of the five other people in the elevator. “Because I thought, maybe it would bother the person sitting next to me on the flight.” One person quietly assured her that her scent was not noticable. I thought, only an American would ask five strangers if he/she smelled bad, and probably only an American would consider whether the scent of cigarette smoke on clothes would bother someone with whom they were not intimately involved.