Tag Archives: austria

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?



The gentleman in Vienna

I had always wanted to go to a “real” ballet.

As a kid my mom had taken me to see our local production of the Nutcracker several times over the Christmas holidays. I always loved it.

But going to a real ballet? With professionals in a grand old building?


That, I dreamt of.

When I was in Vienna at eighteen I got my first chance.

I had been travelling for a while and didn’t have much money, but I did have enough to buy a ticket for the standing section in the balcony of the Vienna Opera House to see the Royal Ballet.

Can you imagine? The Vienna Opera House?

It was spectacular.

I dressed in the best outfit I could muster our of my backpack – a black mini-skirt, black tights, chunky ankle boots, and a vintage leather jacket I had bought at a flea market in London. Perhaps for an 18-year-old snowboarder in the mid-90s I looked quite cool, but I’m sure to everyone else I looked ridiculously out-of-place.

I didn’t care; I was so excited.

Entering the Opera House was like magic. It was every bit as spectacular as I imagined it would be.

I took my spot up on the highest (nose-bleed) balcony and not long after, an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked me if I’d like a better seat.

He explained that he and his wife had season tickets and never miss a performance,but she was home ill and her seat was free.

Of course I jumped at the chance and enjoyed the ballet in one of the best seats in the house.

During intermisison he took me around the opera House telling me stories and personal accounts of all that the beautiful old walls had held.

After the show we went across the street with all the other locals to a café where they sipped Vienese coffees and talked about how lovely the performance was.

It was one of my favorite memories from over a year spent in Europe.

I can’t remember the gentleman’s name, or even picture his face anymore, but I’ll never forget how he made me feel – special and valued and… even a little bit cultured.



Q for you: When is the last time you allowed a stranger to make your day?



P.S. I ran out of time but wanted to mention that this “stranger” ended up being a friend of my 4th grade teacher, who at some point had done a teaching exchange in Austria. It’s a small, small world. (And this was before the days of the internet!!)


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.