Hopped off the plane at LAX…

…with culture shock.

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You would think that growing up in America and living here for 20 years that I would have no problem adjusting back. I’ve been in Lax for an hour and am already feeling some weirdness and reverse culture shock back into my known world. This is keeping me busy while waiting for my boarding time. Here are some of the observations:

  • America is a plugged in society. Everyone is tied to their phone. Sitting here in Starbucks, every other person is either talking on their phone or looking at their phone. Even the girl in the bathroom was talking on her phone, in the stall! I’m now able to be plugged in just as much now that i have AT&T and 4G networks on my phone. I suppose it is because lots of people are traveling for work so they need to work from the road (or air). This is different from the mostly backpacking travel that I have been experiencing.
  • It was so uncommon to see American clothing brands while abroad. It was almost easy to spot an American in Australia because we do dress differently. The typical brands of longchamp bag, ugg boots, and clothing styles of boots, cardigans, leggings have now re-entered my lifestyle.
  • I bought lunch here and was so pleased with the prices agin – even though they were high airport prices, they are cheaper than the Australian prices. It was different to use the notes and change of our country again and to have a tax charged to the price.
  • There are definitely two extreme food cultures in the US. In the airport terminal, there is a Burger King and Starbucks where the two cultures are really apparent. There’s the half that eats fast foods because they are cheap and easy but unhealthy. The people then often struggle with obesity and inherent health problems… This is its own issue of America above and beyond my airport observations. The other extreme is a skinny mindset where the people obsess about avoiding the bad foods. This was apparent at the Starbucks line where the woman ordered a salad with no dressing and a coffee with nonfat foam. The people sitting at the tables were talking about cleansing diets and others walking by are talking about their exercise routines.
  • Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, I do always appreciate the spirit of the season leading up to the holiday. A lot of that spirit comes from the weather changing and since I’ve gone from summer to spring to summer to tropics, there has been no sense of winter. The airport has Christmas decorations all over, wreaths, ornaments, and trees and music playing. People are wishing eachother a happy holidays.  In Fiji, there were lights and few decorations and I almost forgot it was the holidays.  Even though Hanukkah is in 2 days!
These differences have been the norm in my life. Traveling and experiencing the opposite side of the world has made me apparent of all of these differences that make America, America.  It will be interesting to transition back into this society.
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Fiji Culture

I’ve continued my tour on FeeJee Experience.  Yesterday, December 5, was a long day of riding in the blue frog.  After finding John stumbling in from  the beach, we had our continental breakfast and packed up.  We drove through Fiji’s capital city, Suva, to see the president’s house, jail, and government buildings.  We continued on through the beautiful green land to a village called Nasautoka.  The village practices traditional Fijian customs and have their own set of values.  One of them is covering your legs with sarongs.  We were greeted off the bus with flower necklaces and brought into the gathering room for a Kava ceremony.  This one was very traditional and the people spoke in Fijian to pray and pass around the Kava.  After a cup of kava, we shook each villager’s hand.  They were the most genuinely friendly group of people I have every met.  Every one of them had a huge smile on their face, said thank you and nice to meet you.  They sat and sang songs inside the hut while we had a traditional lunch – a large spread of fish, chicken, taro, cassava dishes placed on the floor with only a napkin to wipe your fingers.  After trying the different dishes, which were really different, we set off for an activity.  We took the bus upstream a little to go rafting.  The rafts were long bamboo poles tied together that held 4 people afloat.  It was so relaxing to lay down, partly submerged in water, and be carried down the river.  The stream took us right to the backyard of the village – where we got off and dressed in our sarongs again to close the ceremonies.  We danced, drank another cup of kava, and shook hands with everyone to thank them and say goodbye.  This was a great way to understand the Fijian culture and an experience that I will take with me home.

After, we took a 2 hour ride to our next accommodation.  We’ve made it to the west side of the island to Volvoli Beach.  At the resort, we put our stuff in the dorm and went straight to the pool.  The water was warm and we hung out until my fingers were pruney and it was time for dinner.  Again we sat at a large table, ordered rounds of Fiji Gold beers and picked a delicious dish from the menu.
This morning, December 6, I woke early around 6:30 to watch the sunrise.  I didn’t see the actual sun but the colors in the sky and clouds were beautiful.  I layer on the hammock before falling back asleep.  We’re checking out after lunch today for some more activities.  I’m looking forward to a fun day before being dropped at the airport for my flight.

Aussie-isms

Here are some of the things that I’ve picked up on that are unique to Australian culture:

Slang:

  • Mate/Sheila: Mate is commonly used with any guy. “whats up mate” “alright mate” it’s very casual and not offensive. I haven’t heard much sheila though
  • Splash and dash – quick bathroom rest stop
  • Togs/swimmers: bathing suite
  • Yeah: Another very casual term that I’ve heard a lot of. I’m thinking it’s instead of saying um or like. It’s often used at the end of a sentence or thought, yeah.
  • Inverted commas: “quotation marks”
  • You’re alright/She’ll be right- When you get in someone’s way and say sorry this is the common response

 

Other:

  • Buz: it’s written on the front of the buses. Itll say ‘city to the gap buz’
  • Reading period: before an exam, students are given 10 minutes to read through without marking the testPokies:
  • A bar will often advertise Pokies. It means that there is gambling there, like poker.
  • Jay walking: it’s really not done much. I’ve heard that there is a $40 fine for doing it. It seems really inconvenient when the crosswalk isn’t where you want, but better than seeming like an outcast.
  • Tipping: You don’t have to tip.  Nowhere on the bill does it say 15% and it’s not rude not to.
  • Club music: The first night out we liked hearing all of the throwbacks from our middle and high school dance parties. Songs like “get low” and “tipsy” were fun to hear after years of not being popular. However, all of the clubs seem to play them every night! They’ll throw in an electronic or dubstep song here or there but it always seems to get thrown back. Here’s my collection.
  • Junk mail:  Lots of mailbox have little plaques on it that say “no junk mail”.  I’m not sure if this really stops those letters from coming but they seem to belevie so.
  • TAB: A betting organization
  • Smoke-o: smoke break
  • Uniforms: The school kids are required to wear a uniform.  The different schools vary.  Our home brother and sister have to wear a maroon colored polo with a long skirt or long shorts.  I think it’s funny when the schools get out at the end of the day and mix on the bus because there has to be some hidden uniform rivalry
  • Sunscreen: You have to wear it here. The ozone layer is thinner here and people are very conscious of sun protection with hats and sunglasses. There are skin testing clinics around to check you out.
  • smoking: it’s heavily taxed. A pack costs $20. In the stores, tobacco is behind the counter in a covered box. Seems to deter the consumer away if they don’t see it. The boxes also have terrible images of cancer. I’ve seen people rolling their own cigarettes which is probably cheaper. You’re not allowed to smoke inside any building but some places have designated smoking areas.
  • Crossing Signals: because people never jaywalk, they always wait for the crossing signal.  along with the light changing color, a ping sound also plays that sounds almost like a whip-bird

Food and Drink:

  • Barbie: Meaning barbecue. This seems to be a popular way of cooking everything. Our home stay has a traditional Sunday brekky where they cook eggs, bacon, hash browns, tomatoes, and mushrooms on the Barbie. “fire up the barbie” “throw some prawns on the barbie”
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A jar in our homestay

  • Veggiemite: A spread used on toasts that has a salty tase.  It isn’t as popular as I thought it would be. It is pretty much everywhere, like ketchup. However, not everyone likes it – I think it tastes discussing.
  • Tomato sauce: ketchup (rarely Heinz, sorry Molly)
  • Lollies: Candy. They conveniently have a lolly shop on the UQ campus.
  • Milo: A chocolate powder drink
  • Mueseli – Oat cereal with mixed dry fruits and nuts
  • Clear Skin Wine: popular with our host family, this type of wine is really cheap because it comes from an undisclosed vineyard. The vineyard may be of high quality but produces extra wine that they bottle and sell with a clear skin label.
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Have you ever seen such a great deal!?

  • Goon: Boxed wine. It’s cheap and theres about 5 bottles in a bag!  It’s cheap, like $15 for a box and terrible quality.  But when you call it “vino” it’s classy.  Slap the bag
  • poppers: juice boxes
  • Prawns: Shrimp
  • Bottle Shop: Means the liquor store, also called bottle-, i’ve seen drive through ones!
  • Brekky: breakfast. Alot of Australian slang is just the word cut short and a y added.
  • Long Black: One shot of expresso filled with hot water.
  • Tea: This is a snack time – either morning tea or afternoon tea. Tea and coffee is served with biscuits, cookies, or fruit.
  • Beets: Red beets are a popular sandwich condiment
  • Maccas: McDonalds, they don’t have a dollar menu but they do have 30 cent ice cream cones!
  • Hungry Jacks: Burger King
  • Stubby holder: beer can holder, a coozie
  • Anzac buscuits