Tag Archives: america

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.

STOP.

 

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?

 

Love,
A

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Sometimes I forget I’m American. But not during the olympics.

Sometimes I forget I’m American.

I’ve lived here for twelve years now and so–with a few exceptions–it’s all fairly “normal” to me. I’m always caught off guard when checkout chicks ask me how my holidays are going.

Huh?

And then I remember that I have an accent.

Oh yeah, I’m a foreigner.

There are, however, a few times that I’m keenly aware of being American.

One is during voting season. I can’t not be interested in American politics. Sometimes I wish I didn’t care… but that’s never really going to happen so I just try and keep up from a distance the best I can.

The other time is during the Olympics.

I’m not a very athletic person. I’m not super patriotic either.

But I do find it easy to get swept up in the romance and excitement and competition and pageantry of it all.

Living in Australia, of course they are televising all of the events that include Australians. This means we’ve seen a lot of rowing and swimming and dressage. (yawn)

Side note: How is a horsie dog show even in the Olympics anyway? Isn’t the Olympics for human competitions? *sigh* Crazy. 

Anyway, I’ve gotten really frustrated with the lack of coverage for Olympic events that I want to see. You know, the ones with Americans in them. (Hello women’s gymnastics with the US taking out the gold. Totally missed that. Arg!)

But there is one that I’ve gotten to see over and over – Michael Phelps. What a freak that guy is. Love or hate America, how can you not love a superhuman guy like that?

When you see an athlete perform like he does, it’s hard not to be amazed. Nationality goes out the door and it becomes about appreciation for what they guy can do. (Well, unless you’re Australian and insanely jealous – heh heh! or American and insanely proud – ha!)

Mr. Bolt, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Woods, Mr. Ruth, Mr, Federer, Ms. Komenechi (who the heck knows how to spell Nadia’s name, anyway?). These are a few athletes that belong in a league of their own.

Team USA or not, I applaud Phelps for retiring on top of the world.

Awesome.

(And don’t tell the Aussies, but shhhhhhhh, yup, I’m kinda glad he’s American.)

STOP.

Q for you: Do you get into the Olympics much? 

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Celebrate, we will

We spent $8 and one hour decorating a wagon in red, white, and blue for tomorrow’s old fashioned pet parade.

Although the kids are still pretty little we know they’ll love it. And since we have no idea when we’ll get to celebrate another 4th of July we’re doing it, well, biggish.

It feels like an eternity ago that I was a kid riding my bike in the parade. Dressing in silly outfits and having my own children in the parade was a million miles from my mind.

But here I am, so excited about some old fashioned small town parade and festivities.

We’ll hit up the free pancake breakfast, enjoy the parade, and roam around the park filled with three-legged races, hoola hooping, and other “old fashioned” games.

And though the boys are far too young to understand what it is to be American, they will understand that it’s something worth celebrating.

Celebrate, we will.

Happy 4th my friends.

STOP.

 

Q for you: If you are American, what are you doing for the 4th?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


An inconvenient errand

The streets were fairly quiet as I was driving to the grocery store at 10:45pm tonight.

It was the first time I’d had a chance all day to get to the store. We needed milk for the morning.

As I drove there I thought about what a novelty it was to be able to grocery shop at that hour.

The supermarket I go to at home closes as 9pm, or 5pm on the weekends.

All of a sudden I was excited for my little errand.

I’m. in. America. I thought to myself.

It’s the little things I miss about home. (Well, the little things and a few big things like my family and church.)

But I miss being able to grocery shop late at night when I’m free to roam the isles slow and steady and feel like the place is there just for me.

So tonight, even an inconvenient errand didn’t seem so inconvenient.

In fact, it seemed kinda fun.

Fancy that.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Before I moved to Australia I used to do my grocery shopping most Sunday nights around 10pm. I enjoyed my late-evening weekly ritual. Do you ever do your grocery shopping at night? Or is that only when you need to run in and grab a one-off for some special reason?

 

Love,
A

p.s. This is yesterday’s post. My internet wasn’t working when I tried to post it last night.

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Americans are nice

Living in Australia, one of the things I miss is the level of customer service that’s offered in America.

You just can’t compare the two, and it’s too difficult to explain without experiencing it first hand.

Australians aren’t rude, they’re just different.

Americans have “customer service” ingrained in them. Yes, I know there are exceptions, and you’ll sometimes run into a rude phone rep or server or whatever, but by and large American customer service is amazing.

Today I was in Costo and had to go to the membership desk.

“May I have a coupon book please?” I asked.

“Why yes of course you can!” said the customer service rep. But it wasn’t just her words, it was her tone, her expression, her gesture, her massive smile, and the twinkle in her eye. It was as if she had been waiting all day for someone to ask her that question so she could give them a coupon book.

She was so nice! SO nice.

I half expected her to hand me some cotton candy too.

Yes, it was just a few little words, but it made a huge impression on me. Totally made me grin all the way back to the checkout and then out the door.

Hours later I’m still thinking about it.

Maybe she was a shining example, but to me she was not just a good Costco employee, she was a really nice American.

As much as Americans are known for being loud and large and demanding and confident, they should also be known for being warm and friendly and positive and encouraging.

I love America. And Americans.

It’s good to be home.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you think Americans are nice? Or is it just Oregonian Americans that are so nice?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Extravagance just because

It’s day two in America and we are well and truly in holiday mode.

Aside from some crazy jet lag, everything is as perfect as possible. We are enjoying being unscheduled and moving slowly and having time together with our family.

There was a bag waiting for us when we arrived, put together from our church to welcome us.

It was full of some of our favorite American goodies that we can’t get in Australia – Cheerios, cheddar Chex Mix, Payday candy bars, Sour Patch Kids, A&W root beer, Reeces Pieces, pink lemonade, and kettle corn. There were even a few little gifts for the kids.

None of this is stuff that we need. (Um, who needs junk food?!)

But that was just the point – to bless us “above and beyond” the necessary. And to make us smile.

It’s amazing how little things can make such a big impact.

Being welcomed with a package like that – full of the treats we adore and miss – made us feel so welcomed, cared for, and appreciated.

As much as God wants to provide for our needs, he also loves to do things just to make us smile.

Extravagance, generosity, hospitality, abundance – those are all marks of our God.

Apparently our church family knows that too.

They reflect him so well.

STOP.

 

Q for you: When is the last time you were blessed to receive something you didn’t need, but wanted “just because”?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Jitters

I have the pre-first-day-of-school jitters.

The kind where you’re so excited that it’s hard to even imagine going to sleep.

Except that I’m not going to school tomorrow… I’m going to America.

Well, technically I’m not going to America. I’m going to Sydney so we can leave for America the next morning.

But whatever.

Tomorrow’s the day we pack our toothbrushes and board the plane.

Tomorrow’s the day we switch into holiday mode.

Tomorrow’s the day we go on a family adventure.

Tomorrow’s the day we head from winter into summer. (Oh please God, give us summer-ish weather in Oregon. Please?)

Between the excitement of the Voice finale and the trip beginning tomorrow, who knows if I will ever fall asleep tonight. But for everyone’s sake, I’d better go and try.

STOP.

 

Q for you: When’s the last time you got those excited jitters I’m talking about?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


A note to US voters

My friend Jim tweeted this today:

@jimastephens: Note to US voters: The Messiah is not among the candidates for election. Nor is the Anti-Christ. These are politicians.

Genius.

Every time an election rolls around it amazes me how so many of us get swept up in the tsunami of religious rhetoric surrounding the candidates.

As a believer, of course I think that the beliefs of the candidates are important. (But so does everyone else. That’s not a “Christian” thing.)

I want to know what people stand for. I want to know how they vote. I want to know where they will channel their efforts. (Or at least where they think they will. We all know wars and natural disasters and economic downfalls tend to derail things a little.)

But for the love, why must we go about deeming so-and-so the “Christian” choice (or not) and then villanizing anyone else that opposes?

The polarizing effect of elections is so disheartening.

Every time it rolls around people say “let’s work together” and then in a heartbeat we get busy defending our own issues and opinions and deciding the “other guy” is the devil.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have opinions. Even strong ones.

But how about we try and act like grown-ups, do our research, and lend our support in a way that brings life and hope and intelligence into the conversation?

And in the meantime, how about we quit with the anti-christ comments. (Cuz they make us all look like weirdos anyway.)

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you love or hate American politics? As frustrating as they are at times, I’m definitely of the “lover” category.

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Homesick, and the ache of More

It happens to me every. single. time.

A visit to my childhood home approaches and I grow homesick.

Home. Sick.

The closer the trip becomes, the more my heart aches.

It’s been twelve years since I lived in America.

You’d think that the longer I am away, the easier it would become.

But hardships and revelations and babies and friendships make that impossible.

Instead, the ache grows.

I know what it’s like to be a foreigner. To live as an alien in a land not my own.

I know what it means to put roots down and be home, and yet not really home.

As much as the ache aches, it’s also my gift.

Reminding me that I’m not Home. Reminding me that there is More.

My home is in Him.

Homesick for heaven… Homesick for a place I don’t know, and yet know so well.

Sometimes I think it’s the lack of belonging, that hard-to-pinpoint knowing of yes, here I fit.

But I will never really fit.

I realize it’s more than a circumstance, a feeling, an address, a season.

It’s heaven. It’s Him.

I’m homesick for Him.

My home is in Him.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Are you homesick? A foreigner living in a “strange” land? Is this you, too? What do you do with the ache?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


For the love of holiday M&Ms

I get homesick at holidays.

I know what you’re thinking – of ocurse you miss your family when you want to celebrate with them most.

Um yeah. That’s true. I miss family…

But actually, I’m talking about another kind of homesick.

M&Ms.

It’s Valentines Day tomorrow.

All I want is some little conversation hearts and some pink and red and white peanut M&Ms.

Is that too much to ask?

At Christmas I want red and green ones.

At Easter I want some nice pastel ones.

I’d even buy green ones for St Patricks Day, just becuase I could.

(Do they sell red, white, and blue ones for 4th of July? Probably.)

I know it probably sounds crazy, but I miss holiday candies.

Yup, I know – it’s all just part of their marketing ploys to empty our pockets.

Yup, I know – it’s all consumerism and a litle ridiculous.

But… I kinda like it. I like conversation hearts and pink M&Ms.

I strolled the isles of Target adn Big W (Australia’s version of Walmart) and Woolies (Safeway) today in search of Valentiens candy.

Guess what I found?

A few heart-shaped chocolates and…

Easter eggs.

Apparently Australia thinks Valentines is an American hoax to make you buy yet aother greeting card. maybe…

But I think Valentines Day is an American way of reminding you to tell the people you love that… you love them.

So happy Valentines Day to my lovies. You’ll just have to take my kisses… since red and pink hersheys ones are nowhere to be found.

STOP.

Q for you: Do you get into Valentines Day? Or do you think it’s ridiculous?

Love,
A

Click Clink Five is a blog by Adriel Booker. | Five minutes a day, unedited. | 2012 All rights reserved. | Adriel also writes on parenting and motherhood at The Mommyhood Memos.