I recently read that becoming an expat can make you automatically entertaining and amusing to your friends abroad, describing the things that are everyday and accepted by the place you have moved to but fill your world with wonder and sometimes a giggle or two.
While the things that the locals in your new location would find ordinary and boring are interesting and often humorous to those you left behind, do not fear, the reverse is true for the natives in your new place of residence, so mundane items from a previous country can offer the same excitement to your new friends.
So depending on where you’re from the following items may or may not be new information / interesting / amusing.
In the USA the light switches turn on by flicking them up, not down.
The toilet bowl comes already full of water – rather than filling and emptying after flushing – prompting WAFYO to announce she reckoned she had done the world’s biggest wee, until American toilets were explained to her.
You don’t have to sign at some places for a credit card purchase less than $25.
You drive on the wrong side of the road – while sitting in the wrong side of the car. You can turn right on red after stopping, while that part technically makes sense since you are doing everything in reverse the whole thing just feels so wrong.
Drive through ATM’s are the norm, rather than the exception and everyone uses them, taking great offence if there is a ‘walk-up’. Even though there are a few drive through ATM’s in Australia I am sure I don’t have to go into the possible scenarios around a drive-through ATM in South Africa.
Nothing is the same price when you get to the register to pay as it is advertised for, tax is added at checkout. So why oh why do they bother to make anything $9.99, when at the checkout it will become $10.16 or something equally over $10? Make any argument you like about Australia’s GST – at least its all already included in the advertised price.
And then there is
Adult Swim Time.
We were the only family at the pool, my kids were the only ones swimming, the life guard blows the whistle – beep – adult swim time.
But there were no adults there to swim!?!?
We learnt quite quickly that small people must vacate the pool for ten minutes while the life guard tests the pool water, does a bit of vacuuming or uses the bathroom. At the end of this ten minutes – the whistle blows again – beep – kids swim time.
The reactions when I mentioned this foreign (to me) concept on facebook could be considered country and culturally appropriate. All the US citizens had grown up with it and found it situation normal but remembered not liking it as kids, or their own kids not liking it, the Aussies thought it was strange – why not do what ‘we do’ and rope a couple of lanes off for adults to do laps and swim without the chance of being ‘bombed’ by an under 12 along with the adult innuendo comments you would expect from those who live Down Under, the Dutch smiled and asked what is an outdoor pool, the South Africans are relatively still frontier living – manage without life guards altogether and the Hong Kong contingent chuckled at the thought of the life guards being awake enough to blow a whistle every fifty minutes.
So if the mundane made magical is your thing – stick around, I think there’ll be more. Every day brings new wonders in East Cobb😉