If You Give An Aussie A Public Holiday

cgon288_hi

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.

Me and My Big Nose

Sometimes the ways different cultures see your physical features is like looking in a fun house mirror. All the sudden small features are big and big features are just well bigger. I have this nose. It isn’t a large nose but then again it isn’t a small nose either. It used to bother me. I used to want a small button nose and blue eyes Fun-House-Mirror-300x300more than anything. When I was pretty young I used to wish that my eyes would change colours and my nose would somehow morph into a button nose. If I was going to wish on shooting stars then maybe I should have been wishing for a few more inches height wise but no one ever accused 11 year girls of being rational.
Maybe adult women aren’t that rational when it comes to their appearance either. I have been hearing about this body dysmorphic disorder recently. The Better Health Chanel describes Body Dysmorphic Disorder as, “…a mental illness. People who have this illness constantly worry about the way they look. They may believe an inconspicuous or non-existent physical attribute is a serious defect…” This is a serious issue but the first time I heard about this disorder I thought, “Well isn’t that like all women?” So I started trying to list features I have that I really really like and I came up with about three and that was a real stretch. I mean I spent the vast majority of my teenage years worried about my hips and now it turns out booty is all the rage. I was born too early. It is really funny because if you asked me about any of my female friends I would say they are beautiful. If you asked me why I thought they were beautiful you probably couldn’t get me to stop talking about all the ways they are gorgeous. The men in their lives are lucky to have them.
But for me my nose was just one of those things that used to bug me once in awhile. I felt like it was a little too crooked and a little too “prominent” let’s say. That is how I felt when I went to China. It turns out China was exactly what I needed. Chinese people didn’t think my nose was “big”, they thought my nose was “high”. In China having a high nose is kind of a good thing. They have celebrities with high noses and they talk about how good looking they are. Eventually after overcoming how self-conscious I was about people talking about my nose all the time, I started to be OK with my nose. It was my nose and it gave me character and character is better than being a Barbie Doll any day. Once I started being comfortable with my nose I started being more comfortable with everything else. I realized that if a change of geography was all it took for my nose to be OK then it didn’t really matter what the other features looked like because somewhere some people would think they were good.
That is certainly what happened with hips after all. It is not as though I get up every morning, look in the mirror and say to myself, “You are one hot mama. Work it girl!” IBE025880t is more like I just don’t really think that much about it. I enjoy putting on make-up and wearing pretty clothes but I am comfortable in my skin. It is what it is.
I also always wanted a tan. Blame this one on the 80s and 90s as well. I wanted golden sun kissed skin. Again, in China my very pale skin was great. Not all my features were great in China and there was plenty of discussion about each feature. It was difficult when it felt like I had to convince an entire country that my hair really was naturally curly. It was also challenging when people thought I couldn’t be American because I was too short and Americans are tall people. The real clincher was when one woman pinched my hips to demonstrate how generous the padding was in that spot. What it taught me was that the way we perceive our physical features is like a fun house mirror. Going from one culture to another is like walking into a room of fun house mirrors. One second you’re tall and the next second you’re tiny. Your legs look like stilts in one mirror and then tree trunks in another. To borrow from a very famoArticle Lead - wide983354421mjoyrimage.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.1mjo42.png1428883185861.jpg-620x349us Disney movie maybe it is time we just let it go. Maybe we should just all look in the mirror and realise that each feature we don’t like is probably a feature someone somewhere else wishes they had. Did you know that in ancient Greece the unibrow was fantastic? If a woman didn’t have one then they would use black paint to fill one in.
I am me and each of my features expresses exactly who I am. I am short, which is so handy if you are also mischievous. My eyes crinkle up so much when I smile they almost disappear. That is good because when I am old everyone is going to know I laughed and smiled and loved my family. My hair is curly bordering on downright frizzy which is fine because I can’t really imagine mornings without my hair sticking up all over the place like Albert Einstein’s.
Have a big party with your friends and tell each other why you are beautiful inside and out. Tell your friends why you wouldn’t change even one of their physical features. Look up some of those fun cultures where exaggerated hips are prized. Remember you are not objective, whatever you see in the mirror it is filtered through a fun house mirror called culture.

A Teeny Tiny Beast- Cultural Adjustment

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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.

Can I Buy A Vowel?

 

Now let’s turn our attention to thAustralia ee sounde “ee” sound in Aussie. There is a need to make Australia seem less intimidating to outsiders because it is home to a slew of many frightening and lethal creatures. For example, there are more deadly snakes in Australia than any other country worldwide. The answer to this problem seems to be adding an ie,y or ee ending onto several essential words. This sounds absolutely adorable! It does feel downright odd though that a country that speaks English in such a cute way has Blog 8men the size of Chris Hemsworth, as well as sharks, killer snakes, spiders and drop bears. With words like footie, sunnies, cossie, mossie, rellies and schoolies, it is like the whole language is designed to take a tourist’s naive mind off the deadly flora and fauna.
You can imagine an entire continent of people saying,Blog 9 “Look at the beach now look at my hand there is a bikkie. Look at the beach, now at my hand, there are some sunnies for you. Look at the beach. You could be here at the beach instead of in your country freezing vital parts of your body off. Oops! Sorry ignore the huge shark. Go for a swim, she’ll be right mate.”
Blog 5It would make sense if this were the case, if the language was a vast conspiracy of cute designed by Australians to distract attention away from the dangerous insects, animals and plants native to Australia. This is really not the case though. Australians actually love to point out the variety of bugs this country has that can kill you! Give an Aussie an uninitiated tourist and they will frighten the pants off them in 5 seconds flat. They will spout numerous facts about the gruesome kinds of death or injury you can experience in this country. It makes me think they take children aside in school and say, “Alright this is how we scare the tourists, pay close attention!”
To put this all in perspective though, this is a country which boasts unusual animals of all kinds. Wblog 7hile the crocodile, box jellyfish and redback spider are indeed scary, the country is also home to kangaroos, koalas, quokkas and wombats. Also home to, I kid you not, the Fairy Penguin. These are animals which go above and beyond just cute .TheyBlog 3 are adorable bundles of picturesque sweetness that will reduce any tourists to oooohs and ahhhs. Petting them is even better. I will never forget the feeling of a kangaroo eating out of my hand while snuggling into me.  Australia is a wonderfully weird place where the absurdly dangerous meets the absurdly cute.

I think this is the only way we can really make sense of the language. It may be hard but try to imagine Chris Hemsworthblog 4 saying, “chippie”, and there you have Australia in a nutshell. By the way chippie does not mean what you think it means. One of the more entertaining parts of my life in Australia is trying to figure out the meaning of new “ee” words.

So let’s dive right in, what are some words you need to know and understand here in the Great Southern Land.

Chippie- Carpenter

Sparkie- Electrician

Lippy- Lip gloss

Footie- Australian Rules Football, side note here; it is necessary to know the difference between rugby and footie. Some American commentators messed up the two recently and Aussies everyone got a good chuckle out of that.

Kindy- Kindergarten

Tassie- Tasmaniablog 6

Bikkie- Cookie or Biscuit. Not to be confused with bikie – a guy on a motorcycle.

Esky- Cooler

Uni-University

Sickie- Sick day

Brekkie- Breakfast

Pressie- Present

Rellie- Relatives

Cossie- Swimsuit

Shonky- Dubious

Dodgy- Not to be trusted

Lackies- Elastic bands

Telly-TV

This is just a taste of some of the terrific ways Aussies have altered words. You can imagine having an average conversation can be a little mind boggling. I was once told I should, “Rug up and have a bikkie.” I was pretty baffled until it was translated for me. I was being told to wrap up in a blanket and have a cookie.  I had no objections. Add a cuppa, (cup of tea), to tBlog 1hat and I will stay for life.

Aussies are incredibly proud when their unique words make it to other parts of the world. Seeing the look of pride on my Aussie friend’s faces when I say a word like, “rellie”, in the middle of a sentence is worth feeling slightly strange when I actually say it. It may also make sense that Aussies speak this way since they also refer to their country as “lucky”. Why wouldn’t they? They live near the beach in temperate weather with a variety of beautiful native plants and animals. In fact if anything is a conspiracy maybe it is the built up reputation Australia has for being a place where death follows you constantly. Perhaps that is the biggest trick Aussies pull, making everyone think Australia is a frightening place to live when actually it is an insanely nice place to settle down.

I think you will see what I mean if you are brave enough to find an Australian and ask them about Drop Bears.

Down the Rabbit Hole-Stuck in Zhengzhou Part 2

Zhengzhou Rabbit Hole

Sitting in the dark, in a hotel room, in the middle of a town I had never been to before in China. The only sound was the echo of my slightly frustrated and emotional chuckle because seriously this day could not possibly be this bad. The temptation was to just burrow under the covers and pretend it wasn’t happening but that was not going to get the lights back on. I needed to put my big girl panties on and deal with it. Let me tell you how we got from a missed flight, newly booked flight and a hotel reservation to here.

I had a ticket and I managed to call a hotel and get a reservation but I now had to negotiate the taxi line. ThosNice Tourist Signe who have lived or are living in China can commence laughing at me now. Zhengzhou is a smaller town and they haven’t gotten around to regulating airport taxis as of yet so imagine a tiny,irate, exhausted fireball trying to convince a long line of drivers that she wasn’t taking a taxi unless they used the meter. Joke was on me because my driver said he would use the meter then took the long way around so 260rmb, (Chinese dollars), later I finally arrived at my hotel which was a grand total of 3 kilometers from the airport. I arrived at the hotel tired, hungry and riding a very thin line between patience and a World War III emotional breakdown. I would not be the ugly foreigner again. I would be sweetness and light. Ha!
Since the airport did not take Mastercard I thought it would be judicious to ask, before I checked in, if the hotel took Mastercard. “Oh yes, we do, of course!” Except we don’t apparently. The hotel is brand new and the bank hasn’t approved it, they will have the Hard Time Signpermission by the end of the month. I was told this right after I was all checked in and they wanted me to pay. “You can’t pay in cash?” they asked.  No I couldn’t because as a rule I don’t keep that much cash on hand ever. Tomorrow would have to include a trip to the bank to get the money and pay them. Lovely.
I had not eaten all day either, so my next stop after the room had to be a restaurant, room service or a hotel restaurant. There was no room service or nearby restaurants but the front desk informed me there was a restaurant on the 3rd floor so I went there….except it wasn’t open…yet. It is a new hotel, in fact it is so new the elevator still has paint all over the mirrors, so yeah, ok you get the picture.
Thankfully for some reason they had a waitress looking after a restaurant that had tables, chairs, plates, polished flatware and napkinsChina_Funny_English_inscriptions_Summer-Palace-Beijing but no customers. No it is not the Twilight Zone, just a new hotel. They also had a chef. The two of them decided that they would give me food. I think if I didn’t have a husband, I might marry that chef because of his kindness to me. He made me egg and tomato noodle soup and an espresso.  I might marry him even though I have a husband because wow, he knows how to treat a girl.
My day was looking up. It was 9 pm, almost the end of the day, but I am an optimist when caught at the right moment.  I believed the day could still get better. I had a hotel room, I had a flight, I had eaten and developed a very proper crush on the hotel chef. (Don’t worry my husband will understand, he knows all about my relationship with caffeine.) Nothing could go wrong. All was right with the world. I blame the caffeine for this uncharacteristic rush of euphoria.
But… five minutes passed and the power in the whole hotel went out.  My rush of euphoria promptly left and I could only laugh and  I lived in Welcome Zhengzhou Airporthope my flight did actually make it out of Zhengzhou the next day.  I was also thankful for my Chinese language at the moment. Most days I feel that you can make it in China without a lot of language. Today, however, if I could not speak the language I am afraid I would have been stuck forever. To be honest, I am not sure I am going to make it out of this city even with the language. I hope I see you all again, if not, I guess I have moved back to China.

And the rest of the story…

For those of you wondering what happened with the power and paying the hotel bill this is the happily ever after. After looking out the window and determining that it was a whole hotel problem, I started trying to contact the front desk. I had no luck but did find a maintenance man out in the hall a few minutes later who assured me he would have the power back on in 10 minutes, and he did. After a very good night’s sleep, I was taken to the bank the next day by a lovely member of the hotel staff. Not the chef. I arrived and the bank president promptly came out to show me the banks brand new ATM machine. He was quick to point out the English capabilities of the machine and I was very thankful, if a bit embarrassed. I paid my hotel bill and got to the airport where my flight took off and landed in Beijing. I made it through another 18 hours of flights and some layovers and home to Perth.

If you are looking for more great ironic pictures of signs in China, try this link Shanghaiexpat.com.

Down the Rabbit Hole-Stuck in Zhengzhou Part 1

I am writing this blog sitting in a hotel in the middle of a dark hotel room in Zhengzhou, China. Zhengzhou is meant to be a stopover between many larger cities. Zhengzhou is a middle point between two places and Zhengzhou5not often a destination, even though it is a capital city. The fact that I am writing this from a hotel in this city says a lot about how my day has gone. First of all let me say that it is no surprise to anyone that I have a love affair with China. I adore this country. I fly, and to say I hate flying is an understatement, so that I can come to this country.  Having said that, there are days when it throws me for a loop and today was one of those days.
I lost my patience today with several people. I will no doubt be referred to as tiny crazy lady, or dragon lady, in this city for a long time because I got a little peeved. I did not yell, but most people who speak Chinese as a second language will say there are some times when it would be better for everyone around them if they couldn’t speak the language. For me today was one of those times. I checked into my flight at Shenyang airport and the flight was supposed to go to Kunming. At check in I was  informed that I would be changing flights in Zhengzhou and it was not just a stopover. I would actually have to get a new ticket and change planes. “OK” I said politely, “Would I have enough time?” The lady at Zhengzhou8the check in counter replied, “Oh certainly, more than enough.” I had my doubts so I later asked at the gate and found that this person thought I would definitely not have enough time if without someone to help me. “Tell the flight attendant,” she said, “she will arrange for someone to meet you and transfer you.” I then asked, “OK, well I have an international flight leaving from Beijing the next day, I am meant to fly to Kunming for a meeting then immediately after, fly to Beijing, so are there many daily flights from Zhengzhou to Beijing?” She replied, “Oh yes naturally!” Newton’s law went into effect here. A little voice said, “Switch airlines or flights now!” But I ignored the voice, I was already checked in and, I thought,I am not that person that screams about broken phalanges and gets off the plane. (Watch Friends the TV show.) So I took the flight, which arrive a half an hour late, and no one met me to help transfer me so, no, I didn’t make my flight to Kunming.

Zhengzhou7

Zhengzhou

I finally found the domestic ticket desk at Zhengzhou airport, (see picture of airport above to the right), and some people who were reluctantly willing to help me. (At this point I had already gotten put out with the people at the transfer desk who couldn’t help and now was actually power walking mad so their reluctance was very understandable). There was not much they could do though. There were no more flights to Kunming today. The flights the next day were too late to arrive in time for my meeting. Surprise, surprise there were also no more flights to Beijing because there are not, as I had previously been told, many daily flights from Zhengzhou to Beijing. So I cancelled my meetings in Kunming with embarrassment and as much grace as I could manage and moved on to booking a ticket for Beijing tomorrow.
20507975064be68c6999116This sounds easy and it would have been but I am in a city where people are not supposed to stop or do things like buy brand new tickets so I could not pay with foreign currency or used my MasterCard to pay for the ticket. The banks were closed so I couldn’t exchange any of the three other types of foreign currency I had. So, I had to call my husband, have him purchase the ticket online and send me the confirmation while also looking up hotels. Then I had to confirm the flight with the airline which I had been told to do. Shoot to a picture of me still in the airport four hours later.
You may think my story is  finally over, I have a plane ticket for Beijing and a reservation at a trusted hotel chain. “It wasn’t so bad after all”, you might be thinking. You would be wrong because as of this moment the electricity has gone off in the entire hotel and here I sit in the dark writing a blog because that is all there is left to do. You can read about how I ended up in a dark hotel room writing a blog in part 2, coming soon!

Waiting to Exhale- Inside the mind of a Semi- Bilingual

You may catch me sometimes looking atMixed Flag you blankly, hesitating for several beats before I answer your question or finish the sentence I just trailed off in the middle of. You may have already started your next thought and moved on without me. Forgive me, but the truth is I am still trying to figure out whether to call it a wardrobe, a dresser or a gui zi柜子. My mind is stuck in a hamster wheel flashing up other options that might work as well. The problem is that one of those words has the best meaning but the person I am talking to probably wouldn’t understand it. So here I am, holding my breath and waiting for the word to come out, and here you are, trying to pretend that I am not odd or an airhead or at the least just a little ditzy. In some instances I will just use the wrong word for the language I am speaking at the time, and if you wait for it I may remember to translate for you when it finally clicks that you have no idea what I just said. This process makes me look even more ditzy because I should be able to remember what language I am speaking, right?

I am not really bilingual, and if you want to know the truth I am not even biEnglishgual. Yep, you caught me, that is not a word. If in doubt I like to make it up as I go along. Try to keep up because my mind is a bumpy ride. So is it a clothespin or a peg? Or a i_talk_to_myself_in_2_languages_kid_s_t_shirt-r581602a7953b4888b0479cc8c85dac3b_wio57_324clothes peg? Is it a laundry powder or laundry detergent or washing powder? The English isn’t even really the problem. It is just incredibly entertaining for you because in those instances when my mouth doesn’t wait for my brain to catch up, you to hear me rattle off every word I can think of that might fit until you nod and say, “Yes that is it, I know what you mean.” My good friends do this because they know they have to eventually indicate which word is the right one for Australia or else I will just keep going. Sometimes I think they let me keep going as long as they do because it amuses them to watch me try. Some of the words I come up with are way off base. Did you know a brad in the US is a split pin in Aussie land? Those words have no relation what so ever.

Chinese, that other language that I semi speak but am completely illiterate in, is the real issue. It’s the issue because there are so many of my thoughts, that after 12 years of living there, I must express in Chinese. You think I am talkative, verbose and overwhelming? Imagine if you could hear the 30% of my thoughts that are kept quiet because the entire sentence can only be expressed in Chinese. Oh boy, would you love that joke or appreciate the irony if only you knew what the heck I was saying. Imagine how much more articulate I am when I don’t stop breathing in the middle of a thought because the last half of the thought was in Chinese and now I have to translate it or explain it.20507975064be68c6999116 You might find me understandable. You might think I was humorous. Well maybe not because I never really mastered the art of a joke in Chinese. I want to tell you I have a gege 哥哥, not a brother, because then you would know without any further explanation that he is my older brother. I want to tell you that that problem I am having is well meibanfa 没办法 .  This has so much more meaning than just no solution because it indicates there will never be a solution and all hope is lost. I feel this way when dealing with websites and html. Another word that comes to me when I think of html is ma-fan麻烦. It means trouble or stress or both rolled into one. Hard to translate but sheer joy to apply when you are at the end of your rope. And when you are leaving my house after I have complained about all of the above, I want to say man-zou 慢走 because it kind of means take your time leaving but it also dayton chinesemeans I care and because I care I say man-zou not just see ya. If you are born into a single language family, then all your thoughts and feeling take place in that language. Like me, you may not realize that there are a bunch of other thoughts, feelings and ways to describe things until you start to learn your second language. Once that other language and culture becomes part of you, it becomes very difficult not to express that other language and culture. It becomes, for me, like holding your breath and containing all those other descriptions and thoughts that are running through your head.

By the way if you are bilingual and would like to own one of the t-shirts in the picture above, you can find them and many more items for bilingual families at Bilingual Style.

Me and My Mates-Part 3 of On How To Be An Aussie

Mate is one of the best words to learn if you are trying to be an Aussie. A word that I believe is most misukeanu-reeves-bill-teds-150a092209-fpnderstood by the world outside of Australia because it is not often used to mean an actual mate, and by that I mean friend or significant other. Mate is used in such a plethora of different ways that I can write a whole blog about this one word. It reminds me a great deal of how we used to use the word “Dude”. For reference please see Keanu Reeves in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. Duuuuuude!

 

The best definitioncartoon mates I have seen so far was in the online Urban dictionary which says a mate is anyone you don’t know or can’t remember the name of. Perfect! Although there are other uses for the word this one really sums up its most common use. Although, I would have to add that when it is used this way there is often a heavy sarcastic tone added to it and in this context it comes closest to meaning idiot of the highest order. In the car when road rage strikes it’s, “What are you thinking MATE?” When another person knocks into you, “Well excuse me MATE!”  Aussies are most likely to also add one of the five senses to this as well as in, “Look Mate…” or “Listen Mate..” when look or listen is added to mate you are in trouble. The look and listen mate is usually accompanied by the Chris Hemsworththor  vibe. This is when an Aussie bloke stands up tall, squares his shoulders and looks down at you with a scowl on his face. His voice will also deepen an octave or two, just in case you were not already aware you were in trouble. Sometimes there are no words needed after the “Look mate”, after all most lessor mortals are apologizing and running the other way. An Aussie male was chosen to play Thor for a good reason. I am not sure where Aussie men learn this. I don’t think they are taught. I think the skill is simply part of being an Aussie bloke. I believe it makes its first appearance somewhere right around the first time that their team loses a game.  My best advice is not to be there when that happens.

It is, however, amusing to watch if you are not the target of the aforementioned look or listen mate. If it happens to be between two relatively good natured Aussie blokes then it can be quite educational.  You may even get the rare instance of a, “Look mate!” being answered back by a, “Listen mate!” If you happen to catch this rare display of Aussie blokes in action, then watch and learn… from a safe distance.

“Maaaaate!” When mate is used in this context it comes closest to meaning awesome. Oddly enough you will hear this usage when a tip-jar-hints-cheers-mate1 member of an Aussie bloke’s favourite team does something really spectacular.  It can also be used to refer to cars, electronic devices and DIY done by an Aussie bloke. Barbecues are also an important part of the Aussie male psych so listen for it when a new barbecue is purchased as well.

“Ohhhh mate.” This is the direct opposite of the mate mentioned above. I have been hearing this one a lot this year as my husband’s footy team, The West Coast Eagles, is not doing very well. Whenever a particularly idiotic play is made then I can be sure and hear this. You may also hear it when a real mate or child gets hurt. The depth of sympathy that comes across in the, “Ohhhh mate”, in these instances is second to none and manages to convey real sympathy and concern.

Lastly, let’s talk about mateship. Aussies really value mateship and it means something quite deep. It is part of the Australian military vernacular and also has been used by the Salvation Army to invoke a deeper call to action towards those who may be struggling. When an Aussie man says, “Yeah he’s a good mate”, he usually means something a bit more than just a guy I watch a game with or a colleague I work with. This is a man who will be with them or who has been with them through real life stuff. It is usually someone they think they can count on or someone they would be willing to be there for. Australian understatement is a real part of this as an Aussie is very unlikely to say, “Yeah this here is the best man I have ever met. He’s been with me through thick and thin.”  Instead you might hear a, “Oh yeah Mike? Yeah we’re mates.”

Someone should and could write a book about how Aussies use the word mate. It is fascinating and new uses seem to be invented everyday because this is not a nation ofmate men who like to talk. If one word can be used to mean several different things and convey feeling then by all means that word will be used instead of actual sentences.

I will leave off with the following series of jokes about the differences between Americans, Australians, Brits and Canadians. I found them at conviction creations. I hope you enjoy it as much I did.

Canadians: Endure bitterly cold winters and are proud of it.

Brits: Endure oppressively wet and dreary winters and are proud of it.

Americans: Don’t have to do either, and couldn’t care less.

Aussies: Don’t understand what inclement weather means.

 

Aussies: Are extremely patriotic about their beer.

Americans: Are flag-waving, anthem-singing, and obsessively patriotic to the point of blindness.

Canadians: Can’t agree on the words to their anthem, in either language, when they can be bothered to sing them.

Brits: Do not sing at all but prefer a large brass band to perform the anthem

 

Americans: Will jabber on incessantly about football, baseball and basketball.

Brits: Will jabber on incessantly about cricket, soccer and rugby.

Canadians: Will jabber on incessantly about hockey, hockey, hockey, and how they beat the Americans twice, playing baseball.

Aussies: Will jabber on incessantly about how they beat the Poms in every sport they played them in.

On How To Be An Aussie-Part 2

teaflag1 Since I shared a little pronunciation tip with you in part 1, I will share another one. My name in the Aussie accent is most often pronounced “Christerr”. This is because any word that ends with an “a” and is followed by another word beginning with a vowel gets the “err” treatment. It does occasionally make you feel like the entire nation chooses to talk like a pirate but only on certain words.  My name is usually only pronounced “Christa” when is said by itself, which most commonly happens in anger or frustration. Overall, it seems like a good reason to prefer the pirate version. Meal and refreshment times that commonly take place during the day are: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Tea and Supper. This will vary from house to house but it is pretty close. Breakfast is a fun one because, unlike the States, there are prohibitions on certain foods being eaten for breakfast. Donuts are a no-no. Huge no-no with chocolate and sprinkles all over it. The average donut is too sweet for most Aussies to consider it acceptable morning food. Donuts can be eaten at one of the many tea times instead, so that makes up for it a bit. I should also address American Biscuits here. I made biscuits for my husband and some Aussie friends for the first time and theyteas-from-australia-610x250 were so over-the-moon impressed. It took me awhile to figure it out until my friend said to me, “Wow! You make your own scones?” My response was, “Uhhh scones yeah sure ok you bet I do.” Internally I was celebrating, because if a rough biscuit can be considered a scone then score for me. Just do not put gravy on them. Unwritten Aussie rules state that scones come with cream, butter, jam and fruit maybe, but never something savory like gravy. Also, serve those biscuits/scones for morning tea because scones aren’t really a breakfast food either. Now we move onto tea times. If you had asked me about tea in Australia before I met my husband or moved here, I probably would have pictured someone outside boiling water with tea leaves in it and the tea being some really manly beverage with bits of stuff strained through your teeth when you drank it. After I met my husband, I still diinstylemagaudn’t know that much but I thought any country that could produce his accent and Tim Tams had to be pretty awesome. I was right, if you are wondering – Aussie land is paradise on earth. Tim Tams, by the way, are chocolate-covered, cream-filled biscuit bliss. Don’t ever try one – you will be addicted and no other biscuit/cookie will ever satisfy you. For a truly amazing experience you have to try the Tim Tam Slam. You can see Natalie Imbruglia, (yeah for the famous Aussie), give a how-to for the Tim Tam Slam  on Youtube by clicking here. Using a chocolate biscuit to drink tea,now that is Australian. Morning and afternoon tea  are short breaks for a cup of anything you like, but a lot of people here enjoy a cup of tea with milk so be sure to have the carton out and a bikkie (or biscuit), which is a called a cookie in some countries. You can also refer to the hot drink as a “cuppa”.  Tea and supper is where we most commonly get confused. Tea is actually the main meal of the evening in a lot of Australian houses, so do not serve them a snack and make sure you clarify before you make plans for “tea” with one family and “supper” with another. Supper is actually another light snack sometime during the evening. While Australia is a nation that has relatively recently gotten into coffee drinking and does it well, there will still be several people that ask you, “Would you like a cup of tea?” and really mean any hot drink that they might have available. On my first trip here, being a guest, I just agreed and ending up drinking so many cups of tea I could have hosted my own party in Boston. Having been born to two parents with strong southern roots, I also discovered that the amount of sugar I like in my tea is incredibly culturally inappropriate in this health-driven nation. People kept asking me if I wanted one sugar or two and I thought, “Are you kidding me? I want 5 or 6 of those tiny little spoons you are using.” Years after that trip someone insisted on making me a cup of tea and she was adamant that she would not judge me on my sugar intake. When she saw how many teaspoons I actually put into the tea, (I only put half as much as I usually would because she was intently watching me), she commented with horror in her eyes, “You know it tastes just as sweet if you just stir it more.” To which I laughed and responded, “That is so incredibly wonderful that you are healthy enough to believe that, but it is just simply not true honey.” Given that there are at least two mea20140703_144603l times that are referred to as “tea times” you are going to need to stock up. This shouldn’t be hard. The average Aussie supermarket, , carries three times the varieties of tea as they do of coffee, and usually only two kinds of hot cocoa, if you are lucky. Flavored creamers?  Flavored coffee? Unless it’s instant, forget that stuff because they have saved the room on the shelf for tea, tea and more tea.(See the photo of tea shelves above and the photo of coffee shelves below) There are more instant coffee varieties sitting on the shelf than real coffee! Somewhere around 15 brands or types of coffee with20140703_144614 one poor little can of creamer sitting on the shelf is pretty good. That is evidence of your local supermarket really making an effort. Better get used to drinking milk or soy milk in your coffee. I hope you enjoyed this random collection of information about tea in Australia. If you would like a bit more of an organized view you can visit Silva Spoon. For part 1 in How To Be An Aussie click here.

Nurture Your Inner Adventurer-Becoming an International Teacher

China 1While the majority of people would admit teaching is a challenging job they wouldn’t really look at teachers as adventurist people. Deep inside most of us who teach is the inner adventurer who looks at our class with sparks in our eyes and thinks, “What can we accomplish this year?”

Deep in their heart most teachers nurture a wonderful sense of exploration. We want to take students to new places through books, science and history. We want to join our students on a journey of education and we see each child’s journey as a unique experience. We get an adrenalin kick from seeing students excel in new subjects and reaching children that haven’t been enjoyed school before.

There is more out there though. International teaching, whether it is at an international school or teaching a language like English, is a true adventure. I have eaten everything from delicious homemade pork dumplings to barbecued grasshopper. I have seen the great wall and learned to enjoy Korean food with my 218186_10150163925577852_5413126_nstudents. I have celebrated Mother’s Day by helping students make cards with mother written in as many different languages as you could imagine in one classroom. I have gone to educational conferences in Malaysia, Singapore and Beijing. I could continue with this list until I had no more room to write.

It is not only these experiences that made my time an adventure but also the times when I got lost in a taxi in the middle of nowhere and the times I had to travel to Hong Kong to renew my visa. The time I rode a train overnight to suffer through sub zero temperatures to see the Harbin ice festival for one day, before immediately hopping back on the night train so that I could return in time to teach the next day. I was not at my best teaching my class of five year olds that day!

The cream on top of every one of these experiences, during my time teaching in China, was my colleagues and friends. I could not have survived without them and they made everything that we went through together a great memory that we still laugh over whenever we have the chance to get together.

Should you take some time out for your own adventure and teach in an international context?

Of course! Not only will you experience great things but think of the richness you will be able to bring back to the classroom when you return to your home country. Especially for those who have been teaching for a while, it can bring some much-needed spirit back into your classroom. It can help every teacher understand the growing migrant population better.

From a career perspective, it can improve your resume and give you core skills that all employers are looking for. Think teamwork!

Can you take a family?288_16188737851_5952_n

Yes! The language experience and cultural learning is extremely valuable for everyone but most especially for children whose brains can develop long-term skills in language learning at an early age.

Picture yourself somewhere else… teaching!

What benefits do you feel international teaching has had for you? Add your thoughts to our comments below.

For more information on how we can help you find international teaching opportunities visit http://staceycollege.com/employment/international-teaching-opportunities/.

Christa SmithWritten By Christa Smith, China Promotions Manager for Stacey College