If You Give An Aussie A Public Holiday

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If you give an Aussie a public holiday…

he will want to do some hard yakka around the house. He won’t have the tools he needs though and he will decide…
to go buy some tradie stuff at Bunnings. He will be awfully hungry though and after he gets to the shops…

he will want a sausage from the barbie stand outside. He will also be thirsty so…

he will need a fizzy drink to wash down the tucker.

Then the Aussie will have a go at balancing the tools, the sausages, managing the kiddies and getting to the car. He will try to avoid dropping anything while opening the boot. After he finally gets the family in the car they will discover a sausage isn’t enough…

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/

so a trip to Macca’s needs to be made. He will get a burger with beetroot and of course spill pink juice all down his shirt. Tired, hot and sticky the Aussie will know he can’t finish his DIY today so…

he might as well be off to the beach. No worries with that because an Aussie fam always has bathers in the boot. After a refreshing dip in the big blue it will back to the house for some spag bog. After tea, he will realize he has more energy so …

once the kiddies go to bed it will be time to reconsider trying to finish that project. His wife will say, “Good on ya for having a go”, and so the Aussie will have another crack at it…

but probably won’t finish and now he will be tired and sore so he will decide…

that it is time for bed. He will need to have a shower first and then he will drift off but…

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/

when he wakes up sore and bleary-eyed, he will realize he wants another public holiday

…so he will chuck a sickie.

First World Problems And Our Children

Ball 1st World

Our family is pretty average. In case you are scoffing, hear me out. We have two kids, live in the suburbs, have two cars and a dog. We get our groceries from a local supermarket, but sometimes we go crazy and take a trip to the farmers market. We recycle. Yes, for a family that is an Australian and American blend and used to live in China, we are pretty average.
We didn’t used to have two cars. We used to be able to cope with no electricity and no running water for at least a couple of days. Our internet went down all the time when we lived in China. It was very fast but extremely unreliable. This was the stuff of life. I bathed my children in bottled water, lit a bunch of candles and moved on with life.
Books 1st WorldWe used to be so used to dealing with little irritations that I was surprised recently that a few little bumps in my very “average” First World life threw me off. I got stressed about these things. I got upset that they took so long to fix.  The internet went down, our second car was in the shop for 6 weeks and our air conditioning died. In the midst of my miniature meltdown about all these things I did have the presence of mind to say to myself, “Hey princess! Yes you! A lot of people in this world don’t have one car, wouldn’t know what to do with internet and just deal with heat. Suck it up sweetheart and put a smile on your face.”
You can attribute that last bit to my mother. She is great for telling like it is. It must be a Southern thing. To be fair I was big on the pout and whine as a child so she had to develop some serious coping tactics. I often heard her say, “Hun a frown never fixed anything. Put a smile on that face and go get dressed, you’ll feel better.” To be honest a smile, a pair of jeans and some makeup does go a long way.  Southern women learn this early on in life.Pokemon 1st World

After I had a good long talk with myself about my attitude, I had some thinking to do. I realized how much I needed to check myself when my youngest child walked in our living room totally despondent that he couldn’t download a new game app. We were using all the data allowances on our phones for the boys’ homework so he had to go without. (I am not the only used to the First World lifestyle, half my children’s homework requires the internet.) I was teasing him about what a rough life he thought he had because he couldn’t download new games for a week when it hit me that I was behaving much the same way.

I won’t deny that it gets hot in Perth, but as a girl raised by a Southern mother I know there is no amount of hot that can’t be fixed by a tall glass of iced tea and a fan. So I don’t have internet in my house for a week or two. Instead of downloading new books maybe I can reread a few classics. Certainly wouldn’t kill me. The second car was the biggest stress, but the truth is our office is right on the train line. It is pretty easy to get to. You know what I missed about having a second car? I missed being able to call my husband and asked him to pick up something I had forgotten for dinner before he came home. I also really hated getting up 20 minutes earlier in the morning. I am that spoiled by my first world life and my kids know it.

Book Cover 1st WorldHow bad is it that my reaction to not having a second car is so blown out of proportion when you take in account that there are people in the world who struggle to find drinkable water? What am I teaching my children when I lose internet and act like it is a huge deal? There are several big problems in the world right now, like the number of orphans, pollution, human trafficking, violence, hunger etc… To act as though having no air conditioning is a big problem may be teaching my children that it is actually a big problem. None of my problems are life-and-death and I need my children to understand that there are life-and-death situations in this world. I need my reactions to my “First World problems” to indicate I understand that there are bigger issues in the world than these tiny little problems. So many people in our world would be happy to have my problems. Can you imagine if I told someone who was starving that I had a fridge full of food, a car, access to medical care and a good education for my children but I don’t have air conditioning, internet or a second car so I am really struggling?

Last year our family had to go without a fridge for a month because ours broke down and a new part had to be shipped in. Didn’t bother me a bit then, and it is not like I really lost it when I had to deal with these problems, I just let them get to me. When I realized that I had let these things get to me even a little a bit and that my children were in turn letting these things get to them, I knew it was unacceptable.

My children’s generation who have grown up in the first world, have grown up with the world at their fingertips. The slightest inconvenience seems to be interpreted through their eyes as a big issue. I want my children to grow up seeing the bigger picture. I want them to be able to put their problems in the context of the larger world. If I want them to truly grasp other people struggles, then I need to clearly demonstrate what actual problems are. I need to show them that I understand what a real problem looks like. I do not want to give my children implied permission to treat their “First World problems” as life and death when they are really more like small irritations.

So I am getting back to where I need to be. Thankful for my First World comforts without allowing the times they don’t work properly to shift my perception of what should actually trouble me.

A Teeny Tiny Beast- Cultural Adjustment

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Beast on the loose!

Our family is a mixed up blend.  When we moved from China to Australia four years ago we were all going through different things. My husband was returning to his home country. My boys were learning how to be more Australian because they had never lived anywhere but China.  Then there was me. I was immigrating. I am still immigrating. It is a long process.
I am learning to be something new while not losing what I already am. My children have embraced their new lifestyle. My husband is now enjoying being able to get back to all the things he loves about Australia. I am learning to love new things but that doesn’t mean that I am learning to love all new things. Unfortunately for my husband’s sake, cricket is one of those things I do not love.

4 years of transition have equaled laughter, sunshine and frustration and have seen me start this long process of becoming a member of the Lucky Country. I am American so the process is fraught with confusion and teasing from Australian friends. Don’t worry… I get my own back. How can you not good-naturedly  rib people who belong to a country in which the main point of any political party seems to be to overthrow the leader so that the next person can become king of the hill?  It seems like this country indulges in political blood sport every time the season changes. Yes, I good-naturedly rib them until I realize that while they have been born in this country I am voluntarily choosing to join it.

People might think that making a new home in another English-speaking country is easier than acclimating to life in a place like China. China presented its challenges but at least it was up-front about it. My roofunny-grumpy-angry-kid-girl-park-mood-swing-picsfunnyasduck.netmmate and I used to have what we called “bad China days”. It really meant we were in danger of behaving poorly or already had behaved poorly towards someone because of cultural stress and overload. I love Aussie land. I love the people, the weather, the lifestyle and the animals, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have “bad Australia days”. Australia’s cultural and language differences are hidden beneath a very thin veil of similarities. That veil of similarities makes it seem, from the outside, like it should be no sweat to adjust to life here.

Contrary to the illusion, the shallow similarities that these two cultures actually have, barely hides a deep chasm of differences between mind set and traditions. This chasm is where I find myself overwhelmed and likely to behave outrageously.   I recently refused to hang up on a customer service representative until my problem was resolved to my satisfaction. There is an iceberg under that tip of that story but sufficed to say I behaved poorly and I wish I could take it back.  I wish I could put off that call until I wasn’t having a day where I was struggling to adjust to a country which hates the tall poppy. A country where it feels as though sport is almost always more important that a really amazing classic novel. Where there is so much slang that I don’t understand so I have to spend time figuring it out and then using it. Most of all 220px-Attackofthe50ftwomanit is difficult to never quite fit in. I will never have a proper Australian accent.  I will never enjoy sport or the great outdoors, (unless the great outdoors is the beach with flavored iced coffee).  I would never choose to drink multiple cups of tea instead of coffee. A big stress is having to explain where I am from/not from, over and over and over again. I really should appreciate everyone’s interest and thoughtfulness but what happens is that some days it is really too much. My circuits overload in those moments and I have a, “bad Aussie day”. In my case this means a fire breathing dragon of epic Hobbit proportions bursts forth and everyone wonders where such a teeny tiny lady was hiding such a hideous beast.

Immigration is tricky and it is tricky business trying to angry-boo-cartoon-cute-girl-grr-Favim.com-41244make sure every Aussie I come in contact with knows how much I love this country while all the time trying to be diplomatic about the fact that sometimes the differences make me uncomfortable or stressed.  The ironic part is that now that I live in Australia, the Chinese community feels like a welcome relief from some of the adjustment stress.  They say that cultural adjustment is like a roller coaster that starts off with huge dips and scary peaks and then gradually slows down and the peaks and dips get smoother and smoother until you almost don’t even notice them anymore. At this point in the amusement ride the adjustment is almost over and hopefully the screams filled with terror have stopped. If that is the case then Australia is my roller coaster, a roller coaster that is starting to feel more and more comfortable, while Chinese culture would be the merry-go-round that is fun and different from normal life but not scary anymore. You might think that my experiences with adjusting to life in China had given me tools for eliminating cultural stress. You might see me drinking a flat white coffee and eating biscuits and think that I am an experienced world traveler and I breeze through moves to new cultures. Anyone who has known me longer than 2 Roller Coaster 2minutes can now proceed to laugh at the picture that presents. I do have tools for culturally stressful times,  but they don’t eliminate cultural stress. The tools I have tame the beast I become when cultural stress gets out of control. The times when I ignore the inner voice which is telling me I am not emotionally or mentally fit to face a certain task like a trip to a huge mall,  (the shops), and countless sales people. When I ignore that silent pressure to give myself a break then I am sure to become a raging beast which indiscriminately stomps all over innocent people and their feelings.  Just as it would be challenging to play Monopoly at the same time as you ride a roller coaster, dealing with tasks which are normally challenging while also coping with cultural stress is impossible and will have a different effect on everyone. Perhaps you have faced something similar. Maybe you don’t become a beast but something else happens. Want to share what nickname you have for the days you are struggling to cope?  Let us know in the comments below.

For those going through something similar all over the globe I would say it will get better! Time is key.

The following are websites with information on tools to deal with cultural stress.

Newcomers to Australia have a lot to Offer

Below is a beautiful story out of the Australian Newspaper today about a young Iranian, new to Australia, with a talent for the English language. There are so many encouraging stories of those who choose to make Australia home. This is just one of them.

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