Tag Archives: australia

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


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.


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


Pack your bags, baby

I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m packing well in advance of my trip.

And by “well in advance”, I mean four days.

I’m normally a have-all-the-lists-made-in-advance-but-pack-the-day-before sort of person.

But this time, I thought I’d experiment and do it on the weekend since we leave on a Tuesday.

So far, so good.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that it’s taking me way longer. Way.

I have too much time to deliberate about what to wear. (And wonder what people are wearing “over there” these days. And what the weather will be like. And if I will have enough pairs of undies.)

Maybe it’s a little less stressful to pack a few days in advance, but I think I like the just-get-it-done pressure of doing it the day before. (It’s just that I’m learning with kids, the less pressure the better. You never know when melt-downs might strike!)

There will still be plenty of “last minute” things to put in – electronics, toiletries, snacks – but I can say that I already have three of the four of us packed. I’ve impressed myself. (And the fourth one can do his own packing.)

The biggest dilema is the shoes. I hate packing shoes.

(How many pairs of shoes do you take when you travel??)

Good thing I still have three more days to change my mind.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you enjoy packing or hate it?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


I love my Oregon

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” We’ve heard this cliche spoken a million times. Usually in regards to relationships.

But it’s also true of places.

We’re gearing up for a trip to Oregon in two-and-a-half weeks (what?? so soon??!) and my heart is about to explode with excitement about it.

I’ve lived overseas for most of my adult life.

I moved out when I was 17. Took off for Europe when I was 18. Returned to Oregon at 19. Left for Asia at 22. And have been living in Australia since 23.

In the 18ish years I’ve been living on my own, only 4ish of them were actually in Oregon.

But in my mind, Oregon (Central Oregon actually) is this near-perfect place that I always can’t wait to get back to. (Yes, having my family and church and “old” friends there definitely contribute to that.)

I realize that some of my perception has grown out of a longing and homesickness for the familiar, but still, there’s this awareness of just how incredible my little mountain “town” really is.

An awareness that certainly wasn’t there until I “grew up” and moved away.

And I know it’s real because I go back there and it does not disappoint.

It really is that awesome.

Who knows if I’ll ever live there again.

I might live the rest of my days in Australia. Or not.

But I know one thing for certain, my heart is big enough to have two homes (not including my real one in heaven).

I love my Oregon. I can’t wait to introduce the newest Booker boy to her goodness, and my other Booker boys to the glories of her summer.

Two-and-a-half weeks and counting…

until I’ll be home.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Have you experienced the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” phenomenon in regards to a person or a place?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


More

I’m having one of those “alien” days.

The kind where you feel like a foreigner in your own land.

I’ve written about this before – about the feeling that you belong, but not quite. The longing for something more.

It’s the hope of heaven. The promise of a real home.

And it’s not that I’m discontent where I’m at.

The opposite really – I love my home, my family, the life we’ve built.

But I know there’s more.

Perhaps it has something to do with returning from a place (Sydney) where I always feel a glimpse of destiny. A something “other” that I don’t even know how to pinpoint.

Perhaps it has something to do with remembering what it’s like to connect with friends from a special (favorite) season of my life.

But whatever it is, the feeling is there. Real, raw, a little bit nagging.

The calm after the storm and the anticipation of the next one all rolled into one.

And I remember that I’m an alien here.

I really don’t belong.

My passport says USA. My address says Australia. But my heart says heaven.

My home is not here.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you ever feel like you belong, and yet don’t belong?

 

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


What I hate about Australia (besides giant bugs)

There are so many things to love about Australia:

The sun.

Gorgeous beaches.

Ridiculously cute animals like koalas and wallabies.

Cool buildings like the Opera House.

Indigenous art.

Bush dances.

BBQ culture.

Passionate sports fanatics.

Words and phrases like “mate” and “g’day” and “no worries”.

The amazing (Asian) food that you can find everywhere.

Teh fact that most people don’t take themselves too seriously and are quick to have a laugh.

Morning tea.

Afternoon tea.

I love so much about this nation. So much. (I’ve been here 12 years, duh.)

But there is one thing I hate. (And yes, I know “hate” it a very, very strong word. One I don’t use often.)

Yes, I hate the cockroaches, the ants, and the mosquitoes that I come across on a daily basis… but that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I’m talking about is this:

THE AUSTRALIAN SHOPPING TROLLY.

(Otherwise known as a shopping cart.)

I have never, ever, EVER driven one of these things that steers correctly. Tehy are not made to balance and flow like the American ones.

They simply will not go in a straight line when in less than perfect circumstances.

Going around a bend (with a full cart) is like trying to pull a semi-truck around a hair-pin turn on the side of a mountain pass. Ugh.

Trying to push a cart with 50+ pounds of groceries in it and steering it in teh right direction when there is any remote slope to the ground is virtually impossible… Comparable to crocodile wrestling. (Just try to imagine that.)

I’m convinced that the CEOs of Woolworths and Coles have never gone grocery shopping a day in their lives.

If they had we would be seeing some radical reforms in the trolly department.

A nation that’s built the Sydney harbor bridge, hosted the Olympics, and engineered countless other modern marvels…. yet they can’t figure out how to make a decent shopping cart.

(Embarrassing.)

So this, my friends, is the thing I hate about Australia.

Shopping trollies.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Have you ever tried to wrangle an Australian shopping cart?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Good Friday, indeed (And why I didn’t rub dirt on my face and lament)

In Australia Good Friday is observed as a public holiday.

Now I could just have a hazy memory, but I don’t think Good Friday is included among our “holidays” in America. (If I’m wrong, please forgive me. It’s been 12 years.)

Ryan and I don’t have EAster Monday off  (some do, but not our workplace), but we do have Good Friday off along with the rest of Australia. So as the day approached I thought a lot about how we should spend our time.

Since we’ve been so crazy busy lately it was kind of a given that we needed some down tiem as a family. But we needed to do something “spiritual” too, right?

Maybe watch The Passion (after the kids are in bed)? or go to a church service? or–I don’t know–rub dirt on our faces and tear our clothes?

But instead we went to the beach.

We ate a picnic lunch.

We played in the water.

We lounged under palm trees.

We ate fudgesicles.

We loaded sandy little feet and wind blown hair and rosy-shouldered bodies into the car.

And as we were driving home from the beach I thought to myself, what a perfect GOod Friday.

I do’t want to mourn on Good Friday. I don’t want to lament.

Yes, there’s been pain. There’s been suffering. There’s been incredible injustice.

I understand all of that. (As much as my finite mind can at least.)

But I also understnad htat the reason for all of that is to give us a good day. A very good day.

A day so good that we can’t help but give thanks to the One who has sacrificed and poured out his everything so that we might have incredible, amazing, aweosme days like today.

You know, really, really spiritual days.

If it weren’t for his suffereing, there is no way I’d have ever met my husband or have the two gorgeous boys that I have now.

And so what better way to recall his suffering than to enjoy (part of) the very reason he paid the price?

Thank you Holy God, for a Good Friday, indeed.

STOP.

Q for you: Do you observe Good Friday? How?

Love,
A

p.s. I absolutely think there is a time and a space for meditating on the dark hour of the cross and all that it entails. If that’s how you choose to observe Good Friday, then I think that’s wonderful. Today just wasn’t that day for us. And that’s okay too.

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.
Adriel also writes (using spell check!) on motherhood and parenting at The Mommyhood Memos