“The more you travel… I think, the more you realise you’re a product of where you’re from” Elizabeth Gilbert
I grew up in England, raised by my Italian family. If culture is the lens through which we perceive the world, then, like many people, I had two of them. It took me a long time to accept the way both cultures defined me but they both flow well together without one contradicting the other too much… flailing hand gestures meets the ability to form an orderly line.
I lived in Bangkok for a very short while; 2 months exactly, but in a city as manic as Bangkok I think it counts. I worked in one of the big public hospitals and the other students kept me company. My status as a foreigner was pretty obvious; cultural differences were a given, and I found this oddly reassuring when it came to dealing with the contrasting social interactions, conversations and jokes. I managed not to commit any faux pas, and even kept my sense of decorum and politeness when I passed out on the labour ward (I asked the resident in a chirpy voice, ‘Please can you hold my glasses?’ before I hit the floor)
I’m a little apprehensive about the move to NZ in this context. I’m a caucasian person moving to an English-speaking country so on the surface, many people have told me I will have no trouble settling in, but I’m not convinced. There are differences, ever so subtle ones, and no doubt they’ll become clear as I get to grips with living there. I’m not sure if my anxieties about getting everything right as an ex-pat stem from my background in Anthropology, post-colonial paranoia or a mix of the two. From what I can remember from my interactions with people out there: they’re very friendly, eager to help you if you’re in a spot of bother (I couldn’t unlock the flap to fill up my car with fuel. A man named David spent 5 minutes sitting in my car to ‘get a feeling’ about it) and are anxious to know that you’re getting the most out of the country (David recommended a different route to my destination as it had nicer views and was keen to know if I was visiting the South Island)
I did visit the south island. It was awesome
Putting my experimenter glasses on, it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. And if anyone holds those glasses while I drop to the floor, I’ll be on a roll
Post title quote: Ralph Waldo Emerson