Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Real Self

So, I finished up my job at the Faculty of Health Sciences yesterday. Overall, it was a good experience, but I'm glad it is over. In the end it wasn't a big challenge, so boredom had set in - plus the commute was starting to take its toll on me (I know, I'm such a wuss. If I can't get somewhere within 15 mins, then I'm not too interested in going there). The people I worked with in the research unit made it great though. The immediate group I interacted with included a Brit, a Kiwi, a Deutchlander, a Yank, a Spaniard, and last but not least, an Aussie. Almost all expats, who have been here from 2 years to 35+ years, with economics being the driving factor behind each individual's timeline. The Europeans of the cohort all agree that Europe is definitely not the place to be at the moment with the unemployment rate off the charts in some areas. When I start thinking about things like this, it makes me wonder if I'm being incredibly naive about returning to the US. When I was last home (July?), I remember noticing how positive everyone seemed despite the crap in the news. After we returned from that trip, I went into depression. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I've avoided writing about it until now. This was beyond being homesick, though that was a major contributing factor. The downside to my expat experience is that I've never quite shaken the feeling that I've been exiled from my real life and the one I'm leading now is a simulacrum of my former self. Do I have regrets coming here? Simply, no. I would jump on the chance to do this again and I would actually like to do this where English isn't the primary language. Growing up, I was one of those kids who didn't have a lot of self-confidence and I always felt out of place. Eventually, I learned to channel those feelings into something positive. The fact that I felt so out of place in the South is the reason why I packed up and moved to the West Coast - the best thing I ever did in my life, and at the time, probably the scariest thing I had ever done. Looking back now, that move seems like a tiny drop in a giant bucket, and certainly not that scary in retrospect. Speaking of scary, in a couple of weeks we are going to go skydiving with some friends at the beach in Wollongong, which is a little south of Sydney. I can’t help but wondering if my real self in San Francisco would do this?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


So, the blog reached 10,000 pages views (all time) today. I know, some blogs and websites get this many views in an hour, but hey, I think this is a cause for a celebration. I mean, I never thought that more than 20 people wound ever take a look at the damn thing.

Thank you and raise a (martini) glass!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Australian Cultural Enigma

I've often joked that the phrase "excuse me" doesn't exist in Australia. Nine times out of ten, when there are groups of people standing around  in social settings (regardless of nationality), they become completely oblivious of the other people around them. If you encounter such a group in the US, you say, "excuse me" if you are trying to get by and then you do a little dance around one another. If you say, "excuse me" to a group of Australians, they will look at you like you are from outer space and there's no little dance, so trying to get past such a group becomes very awkward. I've tried to observe the verbal and visual cues taking place in this scenario to better understand what it is that I'm doing wrong. The best I can come up with is that if you are a man that is trying to get by a group and it is a women that is mainly blocking the way, then you grab her by the hips and move her past you while saying, "sorry, love" and if it is a man that is mainly blocking the way, then you grab him by the shoulders and move him around you while saying, "sorry, mate." If you are a women and walk up to such a group, then everyone parts like the Red Sea and you walk through without saying anything at all.

I'm too chicken to test this theory, so it will remain an Australian cultural enigma.