When you move to a new country there’s a huge element of adaption that takes place. You might have to speak in a different language, drive on the other side of the road, buy more suitable clothes, or get used to new foods. Change is hard, which I think is why so many of us who move to new countries take things with us and do things the way we used to – even if it makes life more difficult sometimes.
Changing how you do something from the way you did it growing up can feel like it’s chipping a part of your identity away. I want to retain my Australian identity, but I don’t want people laughing at everything I do because I’m weird. And I don’t want people to think I’m not making an effort to assimilate simply because there are some things I find easier to do in a certain way. I can understand how easy it would be to surround myself with other expats and live life as normal. And to a certain degree I’ve done that. There’s a small pocket of people I speak mostly English with and I never shy away from talking to them, unlike the rest of the general population… What if I say hi and they ask me a question???
Over the years I’ve done my fair share of pushing my Aussie on people. I have taken every traditional Australian sweet that I can think of in to work and forced people to taste it. And then I stand by eagerly daring them not to love it. But that’s the thing – people from other countries won’t always like your food. And that’s ok. Because some things from your old life will fit into your new, and others won’t – it would be weird to expect it to.
I have fully rebelled against the Austrian way of eating a big lunch and small dinner. I have forced my husband to look forward to a big meal at the end of the day. And to be honest, I’m not sure that I should have. But it’s too late now!
On the flip side, while I used to bring massive suitcases of food back from Oz with me and proclaim that my food was better, in more recent years I’ve discovered alternatives, and developed a taste for foods I never knew about before, so while there are still a few items that regularly make it into the suitcase, there’s far less. I’ve adapted.
I say ‘flip flops’ instead of ‘thongs’ now… without even thinking about it. I say ‘ketchup’ instead of tomato sauce. Of course then I go back to Australia and get teased for it!
In some ways I’ve adapted well, and in others I’ve staunchly dug my heels in. In the end, everyone has to do what they feel comfortable with. So I’m still working on it, and at the same time I’m still resisting, and I guess that’s just how it’s going to roll on.