Tag Archives: cross-cultural living

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

Advertisements

Different isn’t wrong, it’s just… different.

Culture shock is a funny thing.

People often think they don’t have it. I don’t have culture shock, I like it here they say. As if “liking” has anyting to do with “shocking”. (Yes, “shocking” is a word I just came up with to shorten for culture shock. And then by explaining it I made it a thousand tiems longer anyway. Humph.)

When I was living in Greece my culture shock came by way of please and thank you.

I was 18 and working as a waitress at a restaurant on Santorini Island. Most of our customers where vacationers from Eurpoe and America and Canada and AUstralia. They wanted english-speaking staff for that reason.

But every once and a while we’d get a day with lots of Greek holiday-goers.

One day in particular I was serving Greek couple after Greek couple after Greek couple.

“Coke!” they would shout at me. “Spaghetti Bolonaise!” they would shout next. “Refill!” And on and on it went.

Never a please. Never a thank you.

maybe I woke up on the wrong side of hte bed that day, but for whatever reason by mid-shift I was ready to break down into tears.

They don’t appreciate me. They’re so rude. They’re condescending and belittling.

They haaaaaaate me.

(Why do they hate me so much?)

And then I realized… it’s cultural.

As an American it’s considered rude to throw out your orders to the server. You request. You use pleasantries. You make eye contact.

But as a Greek these people weren’t being rude in teh slightest.

They were just being Greek. THeir role was to tell me what they wanted. My role was to follow directions adn deliver. End of story.

They didn’t hate me. They weren’t being rude. (Well, most of hte time anyway.)

They were just being Greek. They were different. And different isn’t wrong, it’s just… different.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said htat over the last 15 years, most of whichI’ve lived abroad.

Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Have you ever experienced culture shock? How did you handle it?

 

Love,
A

p.s. went over time today!

 

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.


Becoming Australian | It’s the little things

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

At eighteen I headed off to Europe to snowboard for a couple of months, only to return over a year later.

At twenty-two I headed to Malaysia for a disicpleship school, where I would discover that my love for travel had deeper, richer meaning.

At twenty-three I went on an outreach to Nepal and India to work among the poor.

At nearly twenty-four I flew to Australia to spend ten months working with a missions organization.

At thirty-four I still live in Australia and work with that same organization.

In between I’ve travelled the globe. I think I lost count at having visited around 35ish nations for one reason or another.

I love the nations and other cultures and all that the world has to offer.

But of course I still miss home. As in Oregon home.

There are so many things about home that I miss. There are the obvious ones like friends and family and—duh—Mexican food.

But then there are the other things I miss like… my favorite brand of deoderant and face soap and moisturizer.

For over ten years I’ve been having my mom send me my face lotion (or stocking up on it when I visit).

Until last month.

Last month I finally found a moisturizer that I love just as much.

It’s nothing fancy, but I like it. (for the record the one I liked from America isn’t fancy either.)

Friends, uyou may not think this is a big deal, but let me tell you after 11+ years of having no brand of face product that I’m loyal to here, I feel like this is a significant breakthrough in my “adopting the culture” process.

Yes, I’m married to an Australian.

Yes, I have two Australian children. (Who are also American of course.)

Yes, I use the words “mate” and “no worries”.

But now I can also purchase all of my toiletries at the local grocery store.

This is a very, very good thing.

I’m feeling more Australian by the day.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Have you ever moved inter-state or overseas… or just out of your comfort zone? What did you miss most about home?

 

Love,
A

 

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