I don't think I can overemphasize how different grocery stores are in the US and Europe. I really thought that coming back to American grocery stores would feel normal, but I guess I got so used to the grocery stores in Switzerland that the American ones have become a foreign experience for me.
Several revelations I have had at Safeway so far:
1) Grocery shopping is much different when you go with a car. Instead of having to choose the smallest, lightest, most essential items that you can carry home, you just toss everything you can see into the cart, then haul it out to the car. Then you get home and wonder why you bought half of it.
2) Grocery bags are free in the States, but not guilt-free. The problem is two-fold: first, you buy a carload of groceries, instead of a personload. Second, you then get free plastic bags for a carload of groceries, which makes you feel that much guiltier than when you buy paper bags for a personload of groceries. My reusable grocery bags will be coming soon, but until then, I'm consoling myself with the thought that I'll reuse the plastic bags to pick up after my dog.
3) Who needs ATMs when the cashier at the grocery store lets you charge more on your card so that you can get cash back?
4) Who needs cashiers, however, when you can go through the self-service checkout?
5) Who needs post offices when you can buy your stamps at the grocery store?
On the other hand, having everything in one place can be very overwhelming, to the point of being counter-productive. It doesn't really occur to me to ask for stamps or cash when checking out, because I'm still reeling from trying to pick out one cartload of groceries from the 20-odd massive aisles. Most of the time, I end up buying about three random things, then losing courage and leaving the store, only remembering too late that I had intended to buy specific items on a grocery list.