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Tag Archives: culture shocked

  1. Breakfast Sausage Cravings

    I think I’ve mentioned our lovely butcher staffed by a dozen Eastern European women with varying degrees of patience. The other day I bought some sausages without casings that looked just like sausages you’d get in a pair along with two scrambled eggs, two strips of bacon, and two triangles of toast off any breakfast menu back home.

    Australians don’t seem to do breakfast sausage though, so I went on a hunt for a recipe of spices to add to my meat. This one posted by a couple of Americans in Germany was the one I went with, and it turned out great. The red pepper gives that perfect lingering heat. I fully endorse it.

    Posted in Cooking.

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  2. Mmm… Creamy

    I made these creamy carrots for dinner tonight. I’m officially making every vegetable creamy from now on. YUM!

    Belated Thanksgiving greets to all ya’ll. I’m homesick or something and not coping super great at the moment. The hot weather and the onslaught of Christmas “cheer” isn’t helping.

    Bah humbug.

    Posted in Cooking.

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  3. A Bit on the Homesick Side

    It’s weird. My great-uncle from California passed away last week. They are having the funeral in Iowa tomorrow. I only saw them once a year at most. I can’t remember having any one-on-one conversations with him. And if I were in Nashville, I probably wouldn’t be going home for the funeral unless I had already planned on being home for the 4th.

    So why is my grief crippling me today?

    Maybe it has to do with getting information like this in casual “oh by the way, has anyone told you yet” emails. Maybe it’s the realization that it’s only a matter of time before it’s Grandma or even someone younger. Bleh.

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  4. New Method to My Cleaning Madness

    I almost broke down into tears at the grocery store just moments ago. They have Method at Woolworths! Not the whole line, but it’s a start. I could hardly believe my eyes. They have the eucalyptus bathroom wipes and the cucumber and the grapefruit all-purpose wipes. Hooray!

    A couple of my quotes from the shopping aisle:
    “You used to only be able to get it at Target. MY kind of Target, not your crap Target.”

    “I can’t believe I’m so excited about a cleaning product… that I’m never going to use. But you’re going to love them, babe.” 🙂

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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  5. My New Greenery

    My new plant from my thoughtful husband.

    Last Tuesday I had a really bad day. It was my day off. I had a phone-date with my parents planned. It was going to be lovely.

    Instead, I woke up to find fleas. ON MY BED. Fleas. I love my cat, but I wanted to kill him. Perhaps there was a lack of prevention on my part, but I know he’s been cavorting around with the neighborhood cat-hos lately too.

    So I was going to wash all the bedding, including the gigantic king-sized bedspread that barely fits in our washer. I went downstairs thinking it was about time to move the bedspread to the dryer only to find it soaking in a washer filled with water. Hmm, washer is broken. Won’t even spin my blanket dry.

    Call the repair place who fixed our gas tanks. Lady treats me like a stupid person just because none of the words I can find on the entire machine match any of the apparently well-known brands of washing machines in this country. Sometimes I just hate people here.

    It all ends well. I was able to drag my water-logged bedding over to the in-laws and used their machine to finish the cleansing. Repair people, from a different company out of pure principle, are coming on Monday.

    And then I called my folks. Dad said that he just fixed my mom’s washer — he bought her a new one. I told him he needed to teach my husband how to fix washing machines!

    Posted in Creative, Nothing in Particular, Photographing.

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  6. Lots of tears today.
    I wish we were in America.

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  7. More Christmas Whinging

    It’s the heat. Christmas is not supposed to be hot. “Christmas in July” is a cute little way to rouse up sales in American summer, but seriously think about moving all your Christmas traditions to the hottest time of the year.

    What I have always loved about the holidays is the coziness of it all. Curling up on the couch with a fuzzy blanket watching movies with Dad. Spending all day in the kitchen cooking with Mom and sipping apple cider when there is a break. Watching the snow fall around the street lights, and maybe tossing a handful at a sibling.

    Now I’m trying to figure out how to keep my chocolate from melting. The last thing I want to do is turn on the oven for any reason to contribute to the heat. Even candles add to the sizzle. (But I’m going to be burning my pine-smelling candle anyway.)

    All this to say that I decided if I can’t be IN the cold, at least I can make it LOOK like I am. It started when I found the little stuffed snowman that Chris & Marj gave me during my first Christmas season here when I lived with them.

    Then I saw these:
    ♥ Yarn snowballs… cutest photo foundhere. (She also made the cutest bag out of an old suit jacket, and I’m totally stealing that idea.)
    ♥ Here is a different take on that idea here with yarn ornaments. Not nearly as cute, but I like the idea of hanging them too. (Will have to check out the rest of that Simply Green site for lots of reuse/recycle ideas.)
    ♥ We’ve all made paper snowflakes before, but I’ve never seen any like these. I might have a play with some of my scrapbooking paper this afternoon and try those.

    Without a Michael’s or Hobby Lobby within a gazillion miles (*sigh*), I had to run to the cheapie shop up the street where I did find styrofoam balls and then raided MIL’s yarn stash. The fuzziest white I could find was of the “feather” variety, which is apparently the bane of knitters everywhere. But it worked out sufficiently for this year.

    (Hastily snapped photo this morning.)

    The final display isn’t done. Made a couple non-trad coloured snowballs to match the baubles on the tree, but they may go. Had a long string of giant faux-pearls, but they look more like hailstones. 🙂

    Posted in Crafting, Creative, Inspired.

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  8. Decking the Halls

    We decked the halls literally with boughs of holly this year.

    I used pipe cleaners and red jingle bells to make the berries.

    We got the holly branches and some pine branches at the markets. Why are all the “Christmas-y” plants the ones that can poke and jab you to death? I should have dug out my gardening gloves!

    The inspiration to actually put up the tree and get into the holiday spirit was two boxes that arrived in the mail from America chockablock with pressies. (Australian for “full of presents”.)

    Family picture…

    And since I’m posting photos, this is the one that was in the paper the other day. Page 2.

    Culture Shocked & Homesick
    I had a really weepy Saturday. We were at the markets, and a mentally handicapped young man, maybe 22 or 23 years old, sat down at our table with us. He gingerly held his basketball and bottle of orange soda. Just the way that he acted made the tears well up as it reminded me so much of when my brother was coming out of his coma almost three years ago.

    And then there was getting ready for Christmas knowing that I’ll be here and my family will be there and that is that. I don’t see how it will ever feel normal, at this point… but maybe it takes a few years. This is only my second since we went back last year.

    Saturday night Hans ordered pizza so we wouldn’t have to cook, and we curled up on the couch to watch Glory. It was a perfectly good excuse to have a little cry.

    Posted in Creative, Nothing in Particular, Photographing.

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  9. Attack of the Birds

    I have been warned of the dangers of walking under a magpie’s nest during nesting season. Apparently every Australian kid has a story about getting swooped by an overprotective mother. I am appropriately wary and steer clear of them, and I thought I was good.

    That was until we discovered that there is a butcherbird along the path we walk to the train that has taken to swooping as well. At first I thought he was just confused or maybe attracted to Hans’s yellow t-shirt.

    But no…. today we were a little ways behind a guy, and I watched the bird come down and hover around the guy before taking off. And then to my absolute horror (HORROR!), it came back down again and actually pecked the guy in the back of the head.

    I hate birds. I really, really do.

    And Another Thing
    I hate Australian mosquitos. Mossies. Ugh. I’m dying here. I truly am scratching my flesh until I bleed. Hans says he had the same thing when he was in the States. They just have a different… what is that anyway? Venom? Saliva? Well whatever gets into the bites gives me huge welts.

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  10. People Suck

    I’m cranky, and the people at the markets made me this way. It’s hard, because as an expat, I’m perhaps overly conscious of the stereotypical opinion about Americans. So I try to do my part to show that we’re not all pushy or overbearing or loud or inconsiderate or what-have-you. But today, I just couldn’t believe the other people.

    Hans and I were waiting patiently for a couple to leave their breakfast table so that we could have a seat. The people had barely stood when another couple literally ran in front of us and took the chairs out from underneath those departing.

    I didn’t even try to hide my disgust when the guy looked over at us. I suppose they could have gotten bonus points for offering to let us join them, but we were in need of four chairs as the in-laws were there with us.

    Hans’s mother eventually was in the right place at the right time, and we did sit for coffee. When we were through, I noticed there was a man glancing our direction. I gave the nod that is universal for “we’re about to leave; you’re welcome to have this table”. No sooner had we stood when this loud woman came right up to Hans’s dad and asked if we were leaving as she started to put her things on the table.

    I cut her off and said, “Yes, but I believe that gentleman has been waiting patiently for this seat.”

    She took her things with a bit of attitude, but the guy seemed grateful for the intervention. My gosh. Where do these people come from and didn’t their mothers teach them anything?


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  11. Extremely Important Information
    Project Runway: Australia is currently in development! Hooray! Twice the PR to get us through the year. And hello, Megan is the obvious choice.

    Less Important Information
    I went into something of a homesickness-inspired downward spiral the last couple weeks which peaked pretty much last Thursday night. Gosh, I get teary thinking about it. But yeah. A lot is going on back home. It’s my niece’s birthday today. I feel like hanging out with my mom. I need a free haircut from my sister. I want to go shopping and don’t know where to find anything here. If I know you in real life and you read this, I’m missing you. I just want to go “home”.

    But things picked up on Friday. We had a much needed time out with friends over dinner and games. (♥ Laydes) We had an impromptu campout in the living room that night, because the neighbors were having a loud party outside our bedroom window. (There were still people outside talking when we got up in the morning.) And we had a low-key night in on Saturday watching Last Holiday. (Yes, it’s a crap chick-flick, but we saw it on the plane to America and have been talking about it again lately.) I had no idea it was a remake.

    There’s probably more to talk about, but I’ll just leave you with this ad that Hans sent me:


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  12. Go Blue Tongues!
    I have figured out where to find North Americans on the weekends. Much to the surprise of pretty much everyone I know, Brisbane has an ice hockey team called the Brisbane Blue Tongues. (I had to specify “ice hockey”, because the average Australian mind defaults to field hockey if one just says “hockey”. Pttht… I KNOW.)

    At just $8 a ticket, this was the cheapest event I have dragged people to. I was quite impressed with our group of seven including family and extended family. All ice hockey virgins.

    Now, I wasn’t expecting it to be quite up to Predators standards, but it really did feel a little amateur. Even the college rink in my hometown has glass instead of a giant net surrounding the entire rink.

    But we made the best of it. I did my best to convey my less-than-expert knowledge on to the rest. Dan & Lis brought along these Kabluey lollies that turn your whole mouth blue. So we got to show off our blue tongues to the Sydney team who were sitting just in front of us.

    Even so, they lost. But I had a good time, at least. We were sitting next to a bunch of Canadians, and I heard at least two families with American accents in the lobby. It just felt very normal in a weird way.

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  13. Mexican JACKPOT!
    It is with great joy that I say WE FOUND A REAL MEXICAN RESTAURANT! The owner is a microbiologist from Arizona, so the food is all prepared fresh with a REAL Southern flavour. I had delicious fajitas and tasted the chimichanga, which was great too… with a REAL Tex-Mex kick to it. Oh my goodness.

    And we had margaritas, because Dan & Lisa had never had them before. ??? I know.

    Overall, the place is a hit — it’s called A Taste of Texas on Middle Street in Cleveland, for anyone in the Brisbane area searching for good Mexican food.

    Breakfast Doesn’t Get Any Cuter Than This
    This morning we had penguin-shaped waffles for breakfast. So cute! And we put icecream and/or whipped cream and mixed berries in their tummies. Oh my gosh. I officially love waffles now.

    We went on a little appliance spree the other night. I bought the waffle maker for Hans. He bought the cute air popper popcorn maker for me. And then we got a space heater for the bathroom, as winter is a-comin’.

    Linky Links
    Callalillie: blog to peruse

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  14. Little Joys to Beat the Blues
    Somewhere in this town there is a FedEx truck. And in this truck is a box with my name on it. And that box is one of the few things that is making life worth living right now. And it’s a gross understatement to say that it has been a “bad week” in terms of homesickness and culture shock and hating everything about this little hellhole I call home.

    (And let me tell you, the xenophobia around this place the last couple days is making me want to lock myself in my house for a while. D@mn you, Michael Moore and your little movie that makes the rest of the world think they are experts on anything relating to guns and America.)

    Another bright side? We may be having real Mexican food this weekend.

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  15. Therapy Weekend
    Friday night we went out with some friends of Hans’s who I just met a week ago. They actually live in the States, but snowy weather prevented us from hooking up while we were there. It was so nice to sit and chat with the wife, because she and I had such similar experiences with culture shock and dealing with getting thrust into a new culture. I feel a little less crazy now. And her reassurance that it took her a good two years to get over it makes my “bad moments” feel less like a relapse and more like a progression.

    Retail Therapy
    Yesterday morning we went to Officeworks so I could get some files to put in my shiny new filing cabinet. I opted for the recycled inner files, because they were cheap and Earth-friendly… but for my hanging folders, I got the super cute ones. Though I must add that they were almost the cheapest. Oh, and I got the baby blue and the light green ones, not the pink pictured. I was quite proud of the store for even having them. (Sorry, Australia, but if you ever want to live up to American Target, you’re going to have to start offering a cute option for everything.)

    Oh, and then we went back to Freedom and bought two baskets, a rug, and two sets of dishes… and a chocolate brown leather sofa which will be delivered next week… and my apothecary cabinet and matching coffee table which will be delivered two weeks after that. I’m THRILLED. I love my living room already, and most of it isn’t here. I’m really just happy to have a couch that doesn’t make my back hurt constantly.

    As soon as we got home, I put the new dishes in the dishwasher and immediately packed up the hand-me-down dishes that came with the house. I took a photo of the process.

    They are fine for some people, but anyone who knows me would understand that I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that I die a little bit each time I use them. The grape ones I can almost tolerate for being slightly arty, but the flower ones… gah!

    The new ones are plain white, which is fine… until I can get my set from back home over here. The set that I painstakingly collected one plate at a time from ebay. The set that is the same pattern my parents had when they first got married in the ’70s. I ♥ those dishes.

    Currently Reading
    Straight Dope: as seen on It answers the world’s most important questions like “Is ‘baby corn’ really baby corn?” and “What does ‘Mrs.’ stand for?” and “What is the origin for the expression ‘Sleep tight’?

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  16. It’s Not All Bad
    So I’ve been having a hard time here again. (Did it ever stop being hard? I don’t know really.) Some days it feels like I’m dying of loneliness, but yet I’m paralyzed by the idea of being surrounded by people I don’t know. I’ve learned that one-on-one (or two-on-two, as the case may be) interaction is the only thing I really look forward to. Too much more than that, and it feels like I’m having a panic attack.

    I swear to you, I was not like this before… so the best I can do to explain it is that whole Culture Shock Monster. *sigh*

    And just when I want to sit and bawl my eyes out, God seems to say, “Look, baby girl, and enjoy.” And then I get views like these on my walk home from the bus stop.

    (Allison… thought of you as I was uploading the pictures.) 🙂

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  17. Lost in Translation
    absailing (ab’-sail-ing)
    n. the sport of repelling
    “We drove to the top of the mountain and went absailing down the North face.”

    Little Hurdles: Get Over It
    One site I was reading about culture shock suggested writing down the aspects of the new country that bother you initially, and then you’ll have great fun looking back in a few months and seeing how silly you were… or something like that. And since people keep asking me about what the differences are, I figured I’d just start keeping a little list of my complaints.

    • the lightswitches go the wrong way… down means on
    • the moon is upside-down
    • none of the constellations are the same
    • everyone’s clothes/accessories have graffiti-like screenprints across them, and while it looks kinda cool, it also annoys the crap out of me right now
    • in homes, the toilets are in a separate room from the rest of the bathroom
    • instead of repeating a number or a letter, they say “double [whatever]”. For instance, when spelling my name, I would say “d-a-n-i-e-l-l-e” but they would say “d-a-n-i-e-double-l-e”. Think the goose from Charlotte’s Web.
    • traffic on the wrong side of the road
    • pedestrian traffic on the wrong side of the sidewalk
    • standard paper size is A4, which is somewhere between letter and legal in length
    • when you pick up the phone to dial, the tone is what you’d expect a long ring to sound like
    • dairy products do NOT taste normal

    That’s all I can think of for now, but it really DOES feel better to get that out.

    Shoe Therapy
    Do you think the fact that I just cashed in some travellers checks and with the exchange rate, it came to $388… and then I come back and find these shoes? Yeah, I know that’s $388 American, but still. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to spend that much anyway, but they still are stinking cute. Besides, I now live in the 84th most expensive city in the world. Gah.

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