Culture shock. Again.

Just when I think that maybe twelve years is enough to give me an exemption from culture shock, another layer of it comes.

And really, I know better.

Every few months I hear a phrase I’ve never heard, understand a pop culture reference that previously went over my head, or am baffled by something I see on an Aussie TV program and I’m struck with a tiny little bout of culture shock, which fades as quickly as it landed.

This morning it happened while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

You guys, the motions are different here. *gasp*

What?? Seriously?

Yup, for real.

Instead of flicking their entire hands from clinched fists to fingers extended like blinking lights, they extend all ten fingers wide and make them wiggle tiny little wiggles. (Like I would make to demonstrate rain.) The movements are small and delicate… kind of like twinkling stars. 

Imagine that.

And maybe this is a little thing, but it kind of spun me out.

I realized that the songs I’ve been singing to my littles at home will be taught differently at kindy or preschool or when they’re watching Playschool on the telly. Sometimes it’s the motions that are a bit different, and sometimes the tune actually varies!

I’ve seen this before but kind-of brushed it off, thinking that the person I saw or heard must not know the song properly. But now it’s starting to sink in that they do know the song properly… just differently to me.

As silly as it sounds it’s sent me into culture shock all over again.

Different is not wrong, it’s just different” is my motto when it comes to all things culture-shock-ish, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like it my way better. (Just keepin’ it real here, friends.)

Anyway, I will continue to teach my kids the American version of things (it’s called the “trunk” of the car, not the “boot”) and their dad and everyone else around them can go all Australian on them I guess. Cuz even if my littles are Aussie, and end up doing everything the Aussie way, at least maybe they can understand a tiny bit of their American heritage too. Even if it is just the way we sing I’m a Little Teapot.



Q for you: Do you experience culture shock in your own family? Maybe you and your partner aren’t from different nations but you might have very different family backgrounds or life experiences. How do you meld two worlds into one?



About Adriel Booker

Author, speaker, advocate, and non-prof director. Happily married city-lover, mother, immigrant, and emoji enthusiast in a city by the sea. ✌️ View all posts by Adriel Booker

3 responses to “Culture shock. Again.

  • Rachel

    Americans sing Heads & Shoulders, Knees & Toes differently and Bob the Builder has an English accent and Thomas the Tank Engine should be narrated by Ringo Starr not Alec Baldwin!
    We pick and choose. Only Xave says “g’day mate. How ya going?” like an American trying to sound Australian…oops…but other than that, he has his little Aussie accent…mixed with a couple of Chinese phrases and an obsession for Asian food.

  • lifelibertyeducation

    I am American and my husband British. While living in England we did things mostly British style. I learned the British terms and sang the preschool songs British style at mother/toddler groups. The only thing I insisted on was being Mommy not mummy which I also failed miserably in convincing the kids of this until we moved to the US. Now we tend to do most things American style. We have cookies and put things in the trunk rather then biscuits and boots. We have held on to thing like zebra and garage being pronounced British style with me though the kids now don’t recognize many British terms they previously used. We are returning the England soon and it will be interesting what American style things hold on in the future.

  • Alaina

    Both my husband and I are American-born yet grew up in south america. We currently live in SA where our first son was born. We have such a clash of cultures (thankfully not with each other) but with where we live, no matter where it is. Could be the quirks of SA or the consumerism of NA. We know that we look through a third world lens and a first world lens all mixed up into one. We like it this way.

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