Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
Cleaning out my email inbox I found this Facebook exchange/discussion from July 2013. Seeing it again today made me ponder how our new location plays into the equation because I’m still in a cheap labor, caste system economy but living in a expat compound that counters that economy. Cultures are fascinating to me.
I think it may put me in the bad wife category that MY MAID reminded me that my wedding anniversary is in two days. I completely forgot. The good news? Brian appeared to be just as surprised as me when he saw it coming up on the calendar next week. We are pitiful. But still happily in love.
This is the reply from Angela Clayton that really puts life in perspective. Angela wrote: "I was reading in The Rational Optimist about this phenomenon. Asian cultures were built on the assumption of cheap labor but western cultures (specifically an offshoot of England) were built on using innovation and technology to eliminate the reliance on cheap labor. In the US or Australia, everything is built to be easier to do because you do it all yourself. In Asia it is the opposite. Low cost labor is cheaper than automation. Now that we are back in the states with no maid after two years of a live in, it is incredibly easy here. Costco is a far more efficient cook. Walmart is my domestic helper. And I have carpet that doesn't require daily mopping to look good. My washing machine is much bigger here and I can dry things in the dryer without having to empty the water out. I can put my dry cleaning on the porch in a bag and it will be picked up and returned to me. I have cold water and ice built right into the refrigerator door, and I have a second fridge to store even more things. Foods here in the US last a lot longer so I can shop less often. These conveniences make life far easier than having maid did."
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Sunday, September 21, 2014
It got me thinking of how my kids reality is so different that my own as a child and I made a list of what I see in them as it compares to me in my school days.
You Know You Are an International School Kid If:
Someone in your class is always jet lagged.
If there is a three day weekend many of your classmates go explore a nearby country with their families.
It is a common occurrence for a classmate to miss 2 weeks of school to go on holiday with their family. Teachers actually expect it to happen.
Going to the embassy or consulate to sort out your passport and visa issues is as common a reason to miss class as a doctor or dentist appointment.
You talk to non-international school kids and realize just how awesome the stuff you did at school your international school really was.
Playing volleyball/soccer/baseball/swimming against another high school may involve passports, visas, hotel, chaperones, an entire weekend and a plane ticket.
Your class is like a meeting of the United Nations with at least 13 countries represented in every class of 22 students.
Your best friends native tongue isn't your native tongue.
You celebrate holidays and traditions you adopted from countries you have lived in across the globe even though they aren't your heritage culture.
International Day celebrations are amazing with the food and the costumes everyone has to show off.
Lots of the food at Internatioal Day was actually cooked by the live in house maid.
Your friends parents are seriously important people, either in business or government. But you'd never know they were important people because they get grounded just like you.
Being the new kid in school is hard but you know that a minimum of 25 % of the entire school is also new this year so your not alone.
On the first day of school you find out how many kids made it into the country and how many are "waiting for visas still but will join us within a week or two".
Ten percent (or more) of the student body misses the first day of school because the kids or parents were too jet lagged to get up that morning since they only landed in the country in the last 16 hours anyway.
You don't stay in your "home" over the summer because the entire expat community vacates for two months. Everyone goes "home" to somewhere else and it's all over the globe.
Lunch time in the cafeteria can really tell a lot about where your friends are from because of what their mom (or maid) packs in the lunchbox.
Kids you play with have maids, drivers, cleaners and gardeners. Enough that they actually refer to them as the "house staff."
It's hard for you to answer the question, "Where are you from?" You want to clarify before you answer the question by asking in return: Do you mean where do I live now? What is my passport country? Where did I spend most of my growing up time and therefore identify with that place? Or where were my parents living when I was actually born?
You have to practice fire drills like everyone else but you also practice and discuss, in age appropriate ways, what to do if there is a terrorist situation, bombing, etc at school.
You have had to add pages to your passport because it was full.
You get birthday wishes from across the globe for a few days before and a week or two after the actual day because time zones are complicated and people couldn't catch you at the right time of day thus extending the celebration and making you feel like a rock star for two solid weeks.
You run into friends from elementary/middle/high school while vacationing in other countries.
You meet people where you live now that knew your good friends from another country three moves ago when they were good friends with them.
When you move to a new location your parents start planning trips based on who they know that lives on the continent so you could visit old friends, some of whom you've never met.
Your five year old brother knows exactly what to do to get through airport security and immigration and asks before you leave the house for a trip if your parents have his passport.
You have opinions on what airlines are good airlines and have frequent flier miles on at least 4 different ones.
You think a 5 hour airline flight is fairly short.
You have opinions on McDonalds in different counties because you know they all taste different.
You know what meats are banned in certain countries so you can anticipate which McDonald's will serve hamburgers and where you can only get a chicken burger because the cow is holy but you also know which countries won't have bacon for the BLT because the pig is dirty.
When you see the Pizza Hut or KFC sign you feel a sense of relief because at least you will know what you are eating this time instead of the sketchy street food.
You catch yourself doing something in a new country that was illegal in the last country, like chewing gum in Singapore. You quickly ask your mom if you can actually do that here in Saudi Arabia.
When searching for a toy to buy with your own money you first query, "If I wait until we go home to America this summer how much would it cost me there instead?" Then you know if it's worth the cost to have it now or worth waiting.
The end of every school year means the loss of many close friends. Either they move or you do. It's a fact of life.
You had 5 stamps in your passport before you could even speak.
You probably won't learn to drive a car until you go to college and you won't be able to have a paying part time job in high school because you only have a dependent pass under your parent not a work pass in your country of residence.
When doing homework for the first time in a new country you have to ask your mom, "Do I write the date with month first then day or day first then month?" She doesn't always know the answer.
Your little brother hears your mom tell the store clerk she will pay for the groceries with a Visa (credit card) and interrupts her asking, "Do we need a visa to come to this store?" You are able to explain the confusion to him about Visa credit cards and visas that are granting permission to enter another country.
You collect coins of all the countries you have been to and get perturbed when a county uses the US Dollar so won't give you local change because your a foreigner or coins aren't used anymore and all you can get is paper bills. Now your collection is ruined because you have nothing from the country.