Here's a post that I made on the Graz Metroblog:
I just got back from spending three weeks in the United States. Since I spent most of my time at home with my sister and her new baby I didn't really get a chance to notice a "real" flavor difference between the culture here and there.
I did however, get chastised for walking more than 15 feet from a shopping cart (baby on top, toddler in the back) to browse at the selection of dyer sheets at Target. "Oh MY GOD, what are you doing?!?!?" my sister shrieked in new-mommy panic. You are in the UNITED STATES, now. People STEAL children! I briefly pondered that and wondered if it's a new mommy fear, or if you have a toddler going through the terrible two's you don't really care if someone lightens your load and makes him dissapear for a few hours of reli... er... I mean panic. But seriously, in Graz most people are not intersted in kidnapping your child and, had I been in that same situation in Graz (minus the dyer sheets, and Target but including the shopping cart and baby) I would have turned back to see a nice elderly person whipering sweet nothings to the baby and making funny faces to the toddler.
Another little culture shift took place as we got off the plane in Graz and were looking for a taxi. Instead of young hulking immigrants gnawing at the bits to take your bags and whisk you away... we got to the front of the taxi line and found an empty cab. "She went to take a coffee break," said the next guy who would not take us because he was NEXT in line. We start to load the trunk with suitcase half-filled with dryer sheets and out comes the little white-haired old lady. Hubby and I look at eachother. We're just about to tell her that the cab is taken when she sits in the driver seat. Well... that' s not something you EVER see in ANY urban city in the United States!
...another reminder of lower crime and laid-back Austrians. I'm glad to be back.. home.