Moving to a New Country- Collab Post with Tall Blonde Tales

Hi everybody! I did a collab post on moving to a new country with Tia from Tall Blonde Tales. You can view her blog here. Since we have both gone through the process of moving to a new country, we felt it would be great to do a post together for our readers. Enjoy!

Tia:

Today I’m doing a collab with the lovely Third Culture Kid, where we’ll be sharing our experience and tips of adjusting to other countries. Both of us have definitely had some experience with moving overseas, and adjusting to another country can be quite a process so we thought we’d share that whole journey with you, as well as some tips that we picked up along the way. Personally, I’ll be sharing my experience of adjusting to life in England.

For all of you to know quite how interesting my adjustment was, you have to know where I’m from – I was born and bred in South Africa! So, while moving to England wasn’t too terrifying in some ways, it was also so different in other ways. There are some similarities between the two countries, because England did colonise South Africa way back when which has obviously left some impact. So in some ways, things are quite similar because a lot of South Africa and its systems were modelled after the British.

That is where the similarities end though.

Adjusting to living up in the north of England was definitely an experience, not negative in any sense but definitely one with some twists and surprises. Firstly, you don’t realise quite how much sun you normally get until it’s gone. I’m not kidding – vitamin D deficiencies up there are a real thing and after living in one of the sunniest places in the world most of my life to a country that is known for its grey cloud coverage and drizzle is quite a shock to the system. It was cold, and quite grey, which certainly took a lot of getting used to, but once you get over the initial shock, with the right amount of layers, a waterproof jacket and some vitamin D pills it’s really not so bad.

When it came to adjusting to way of life there, that was surprisingly easy. In fact, it happened so naturally I didn’t really notice until I came home. Walking everywhere just became what I did, so was grocery shopping once a week with my friends or just popping into a pub or a teashop on the way home after a lecture.

I think what made adjusting to life in England so easy though was the people I was with. It wasn’t like I was thrown into the deep end such as having to start a new job in a new city living all by myself and knowing no one. With university though, it made the transition quite smooth and gradual. I already knew a few people from chatting on university social media groups and I wasn’t living alone. I moved into a flat with both local and international students and that helped me adjust to life in England in such an easy way because it was fun and I got to do it with friends.

Adjusting to a new country can be a really scary experience because everything is new and you may not be sure what to do or who to turn to, but it can also be such a fun and eye-opening experience if you’re open to it. That’s why I will leave you with the following tips:

1.       Try everything – don’t be afraid to try new things and see how they are because you’ll never know until you try and you may just discover your new favourite thing.

2.       Don’t be shy – yes it can be scary meeting new people but the only way for them to become friends and for you to make connections with them is to open up and try to connect and make friends with them so don’t let your nerves stop you from making new friends.

3.       Ask for help – it can be embarrassing to admit when you don’t know something or aren’t sure what to do and need help, but sadly the only way you’ll ever stop struggling with those issues is if you swallow your pride and actually ask your help. You’ll adjust much faster and avoid lots of stress and problems simply by learning when to admit you can’t do something on your own or may need to ask for help or advice.

4.       Take things one step at a time – you can’t suddenly become a local with a snap of your fingers, and getting used to a new country with a new culture takes time so you need to be okay with just taking things one step at a time. If you pace yourself and don’t overwhelm yourself, you’ll find you adjust far better and actually enjoy and appreciate the experience more than if you try to get it all in at once, where there is more chance you’ll just stress yourself out.

5.       Go out and explore – the only way to truly adjust is to experience where you’re living and the best way to do that is to go out and be a part of it. Walk through your new city, try the restaurants and cafes, speak to the locals, or go enjoy your lunch in the park rather than in your room. By going out and just getting a taste of everything your new home has to offer, you can get a feel for it and start to appreciate it and once you become more familiar with your surroundings, it will also help you adjust and feel comfortable where you are.

Me:

Hello everyone! Thanks to Tia for this lovely collab! It will take a while for me to go through my life story, so if you’re interested, you can read my blog too. I’m what is known as a Third Culture Kid which means that before I was 18, I lived in countries that weren’t my parents’ culture. I’m currently living in Canada, which is the fifth country I have lived in, but I am also in transition to the Netherlands at the moment. Being exposed to living in other countries from a young age was not only fun, but I learned some important life skills. One reason I started my blog was to show people what it’s really like to live in other countries and I believe in being transparent about it. Here are my personal tips for living in other countries:

  1. Find the hidden gems- Bouncing off what Tia said about exploring and trying new things, you will find the most beautiful gems in the most unexpected places. Culture is flowing and you will find it if you look hard enough and really think about the meaning behind it. It’s all very well going to a museum, but it’s important to discuss what you have learned from it. It’s amazing to go with other people who love the same thing and you can talk about it a lot.
  2. Learn how to manage your finances- Every country has its own unique systems when it comes to money, and it can take a while to adapt to it. Good personal financial practises will serve you well when adjusting to another country, but be flexible! It’s fine to be frugal, but you CANNOT be cheap! Sometimes, you’ll need to pay for things you didn’t think you had to pay for. Sometimes, you have to cough up money and you just have to deal with it. You can’t avoid financial problems in another country, but once you get through them, you will feel so good about yourself! One way you know you have adapted is if you can automatically convert currencies in your head for a rough estimate. 
  3. Think you don’t need health insurance or consider the healthcare system of your new country? Think again!- I have been in situations where I couldn’t qualify for healthcare in new countries, or didn’t get enough health insurance coverage. That landed me in deep doo-doo! You might say you’re okay with certain things about a new country’s healthcare system. When you’re actually living there, you may realise you’re not okay with certain things. I have moved countries because me or my parents couldn’t get the care we needed. So make sure you know the reality of your new healthcare system and do NOT under-insure yourself when you get health insurance! 
  4. Understand that your emotions are going to be a rollercoaster sometimes and take care of yourself mentally- Your feelings are totally valid. If you need mental health care, go for it! Try to find a counsellor who is at least open to discussing issues you are having adjusting to another country. Additionally, find people that you can talk to honestly about any problems you have. They will usually be people who have lived in other countries before. Sometimes, some well-meaning monocultural people (people who have lived in one place all their life) can say some things that will upset you. There are times in my life when I know I can only talk to people who really understand, like other Third Culture Kids. I also recommend seeking out books, movies and other entertainment you can relate to and keep them as a go-to when you’re going through a rough time.
  5. Remember: It’s ALWAYS worth it to live in another country!- There will come a time when things will either work out for you, or they won’t. If a country works out for you, that’s wonderful! If it doesn’t and you have to try again, or go back home, that’s perfectly fine. People say a place doesn’t make any difference to your life. That’s incorrect! You will gain so much from living in another country and it will serve you well in the future. It’s easy to think that you have failed if a country doesn’t work out, but that’s not true at all. I am currently in the process of moving to another country because Canada hasn’t worked out for me. I’m experienced with living in other countries, and I accepted that a country not working out can happen to anyone. I have gained some wonderful things from Canada, and I am always learning what I really want from a country.

So there you have it! Thank you again, Tia and I hope you all enjoyed reading our stories and tips!

Third Culture Christmas

Third Culture Christmas is a guest post I sent to Tall Blonde Tales for Blogmas! Here it is in all its glory!

I am a Third Culture Kid, which means that before I was 18, I lived in countries other than one of my parents’ nationalities. I have lived in France, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, and now I’m currently in Canada. People ask me what Christmas traditions have I picked up from my life of diverse cultural exposure? Read on to find out!

French Traditions:

I was too young to remember living in France, but my parents still taught me French culture after we moved to the USA. One of my early memories was being confused about how Santa arrived with presents. In France, when Santa brings presents on Christmas Eve, he arrives on a donkey, not a sleigh. As I got older, there are three French foods that we have had at Christmas, depending on availability and quality expected. 

Bûche de Noël or Yule log, is one of our favourites! France is one of those cultures that observes the Feast of the Kings on Twelfth Night. A common dessert is the Galette de Rois. There is no proper English translation for the galette, but you can look it up here: Galette des Rois: A Sweet French Tradition – FAYLI

I sometimes have the galette for my birthday cake because my birthday falls within the twelve days of Christmas! When I moved to Canada, I was ecstatic to find authentic Bûche de Noël and Galette de Rois at a French patisserie! Another food that my family enjoys is foie gras, but availability depends on where you live. The last time I had foie gras at Christmas was when I lived in England! 

English Traditions:

On that note, I have had some memorable food while living in London, England! My family attempted a Christmas pudding a few times. I loved lighting it and watching the alcohol burn off! I found it hard to eat though since it’s soaked in so much booze. One year, my family had a goose for Christmas. It was incredible! Goose fat adds a certain special flavour to food, and it reminded me of French food. I haven’t had a goose since leaving England, but I will never forget how incredible it is!

One story that is always told in England around Christmas is the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914. When World War I started in 1914, the soldiers were all told they would be home by Christmas. When that didn’t happen, British, French and German soldiers laid down their weapons and had fun together. This happened all along the Western Front. The saddest part was all the men who engaged in the truce were censured severely and the generals tried to cover it up. I personally think it was a beautiful act of fraternity, peace, love and cultural sensitivity.

I have seen cartoons, advertisements and other things that commemorate the Christmas Truce. One of the movies I see during the Christmas season is Joyeux Noël, which is the story of the Christmas Truce. You can read more about the movie here: Joyeux Noel (2005) – Plot Summary. Even though I don’t live in England anymore, I still have a little remembrance of the Christmas Truce.

The Christmas Pantomime:

I wanted to give an extra special shoutout to an English Christmas tradition: The Christmas Pantomime. If you are ever in the UK in December or January, see if you can go to a Christmas panto! I personally recommend the ones at the small theatres rather than the large ones. The small theatres feel more personal and there is a lot of audience participation in the Christmas panto. I was part of a community theatre and I did two Christmas pantos. I played Dick Whittington’s cat when I was 12, which was the best role I ever had! Makes me feel like Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet! 

A bit of history. The panto originated out of the Commedia dell’Arte, which was a popular theatre tradition in Europe for 200 years. It really is worth learning about, and pantos have classic scenes that are right out of the Commedia dell’Arte. For instance, there is the cooking scene and the school scene. Also, the principal boy is played by a woman and the dame is played by a man. 

One thing that my parents and I realized is that colonization of the Americas was happening at the same time as the Commedia dell’Arte. The Puritans, who were against the arts for religious reasons, were among the first settlers in what is now the USA. So, the panto tradition never crossed the Atlantic. My parents and I have had discussions about whether the panto can become an accepted theatre tradition in the USA. We have certainly found distinct cultural differences between American and English humour. I could write an entire post about the panto tradition and this particular historical significance, but I will stop right here.

American Traditions:

I moved to the USA when I was two years old. At the time, my parents didn’t know if we would ever live in another country again. But what my Mum did was collect Christmas stories from wherever we travelled and lived and put them in a binder that we would read every Christmas. We continue to read those stories, even though we have now lived in five countries. The stories include classics like The Gift of the Magi, to more current stories.

A few years after we repatriated to the USA after living in London, we decided to go to Yosemite National Park for Christmas. We arrived there at the Winter Solstice, and there happened to be a full moon then! That doesn’t happen often. Ansel Adams photographed a full moon at Yosemite at the Winter Solstice, right when it was over Half Dome (which is an iconic feature of Yosemite). We had to stay pretty late to see the full moon over Half Dome. I tried to take a photo, but I didn’t do it justice. The park was abuzz with people trying to see what Ansel Adams saw when he took his iconic photos.

photo of snow capped mountain under blue night sky

Photo by Ian Beckley on Pexels.com

Canadian Traditions:

I was in for a couple of Christmas surprises when I moved to Canada. I became a huge fan of Canadian comedy, and their holiday comedy is cathartic when dealing with holiday stress. Our political and new satire show This Hour Has 22 Minutes has some incredible holiday sketches on YouTube. Since Canada has long winters, we have to have something to keep us entertained. Canadian Christmas comedy is a great way to decompress. Here’s one of my favourite videos to laugh at Christmas stress:

Christmas Light displays are hugely popular in Canada as well. I am already getting notifications about light displays at the zoo, and malls! My city has a river walk that you can do to see all these light displays. Additionally, they have a site where they list houses that have light displays that you can walk or drive by to see. Even if it’s not Christmas, I have noticed there is a real love of light, especially in the winter.

person walks outdoor during night

Photo by David Guerrero on Pexels.com

Other Traditions:

I got to know a lot of Russians while I was living in London. I learned that Russian Christmas is generally celebrated on January 6th or 7th, depending on the Orthodox calendar. New Year is more popular in Russia than Christmas though. It used to be on a different date from January 1st, but then it changed to meet more Western standards. So, I have heard things about Old New Year, versus New New Year. Additionally, one Russian saying is that you will spend the New Year the way you meet it (Как Новый год встретишь, так его и проведешь). Yes, I speak Russian, but that’s not the point. Because of that saying, Russians have some cultural practices to help them meet the New Year ready for a fresh start. 

You can find this movie called The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! on YouTube. It’s a Russian New Year comedy made in 1975, and it showcases traditions for Russian New Year. It has English subtitles, so don’t worry about not understanding it. Although to be fair, I started watching it when I was first learning Russian, and I was still able to pick up the story by watching what the actors were doing. Whenever I remember watching the comedy for New Year, I do so. Plus, I still believe that you do spend the New Year the way you meet it, although some things you have to take with a grain of salt.

No matter where I am in the world, nothing makes me happier than a white Christmas! I have always loved snow as a kid and that has never gone away! That’s a Christmas tradition that is universal for me!

Merry Christmas/Joyeux Noël/с Рождеством! Happy New Year/Bonne Année/с Новым Годом!

First Collab Post: English Dialects

 

Hello everyone! This is the first collab post I have done! Please welcome Pooja Gudka from Lifesfinewine. Our post is about our experiences with different English dialects. Pooja hails from Kenya and is studying in Canada.

Our Experiences with English Dialects:

Pooja: My mum is from India and my dad is Kenyan and I was born and raised in Kenya but now reside in Canada. I have had the opportunity of hearing many different dialects and I think my dialect changes depending on who I am talking to and which country I am in. Like Winteroseca, I had to adjust to how people talk in Canada and it has been quite interesting to observe their dialect and how it differs from my own. 

 

Winteroseca: My parents are American. I have adjusted to dialects in the US and UK. I am now adjusting to how people talk in Canada. Additionally, when I was living in England, I knew many people from former British colonies and it was interesting to talk about how our dialects differ.

When did you start learning a new dialect?

Pooja: I sounded a lot like my parents when I was younger but as I got older I started reading a lot and watching a lot of American shows as well as listening to American music so I think my dialect changed a lot between 10-18. After that I think it has remained the same and I still sound like I did when I was a teenager- just less teenager-like haha. 

Winteroseca: I was 5 years old. My parents and I had just moved to Texas and I picked up on their way of talking so fast! I thought it was cool. The most significant change was when I moved to London at 10 years old. That was a complete overhaul of the way I talked. 

Did your accent change too?

Pooja: Not particularly. I think it changed when I was about 10 and started to get more into American culture but I think it has remained pretty much the same since then. 

Winteroseca: Yes, and no. When I was in London, there were certain words I had to say a different way or people wouldn’t understand me. I got to a point where my accent would change depending on who I’m talking to and what I’m saying. Third Culture Kids get to a point where they frame-switch between their cultures, and I have done that for a very large portion of my life. Since moving to Canada, I have been reconnecting with a lot of British English while learning how people talk in my new country.

What challenges did you face?

Pooja: I speak four languages fluently and I am currently learning a fifth language and one challenge I face because of this is not having the right words to say in English. Sometimes I will know what I want to say in a different language but I won’t be able to translate it well in English which can be frustrating. Another challenge is that I did a British curriculum at school so I ended up learning words in the traditional/British way and a lot of times I will talk to someone American or even Canadian and be confused about what they mean and then be like “oh wait we call it blah blah blah”

Winteroseca: I had to learn to speak slower and more clearly when I moved to London. There are a lot of immigrants in London. Additionally, the variation between different British accents was huge! Whenever I answered the phone or started talking to someone new, I didn’t know what dialect or accent they would have. I had to learn to adapt my way of speaking to match theirs. Sometimes, the person I was talking to wouldn’t be speaking slowly enough for me to understand, and that would be awkward when I had to ask them to repeat themselves. Typically, the challenge I have is when I need to recall a different way of saying a word. Like, “What do we say in the US instead of trainers?”

Example:

What are some things about learning another way of speaking that surprised you?

Pooja: I think I was surprised by how many people have been through this- I have talked to multiple friends who have immigrated from countries where English isn’t their first language and they share a lot of my frustrations or even just thoughts. It’s actually helped me bond with some people which is nice. 

Winteroseca: One time, I was talking to my grandmother in the US after I had been living in the UK for several years. She commented, “You speak so beautifully!” It had been years since I had initially trained myself to speak more clearly and deliberately. Eventually, I automatically spoke that way around everyone.

When I repatriated to the US, I made a few friends who had recently immigrated to the US. A friend of mine from China said that one of the first things she noticed about me was that I talk slowly and clearly enough and she could understand me. That was one reason she wanted to get to know me better. She heard my UK accent too, but she was most relieved about the fact I could communicate well with people whose English was a second language. Other friends of mine who were immigrants said they really appreciated the fact I spoke in a way they could understand me. And I told them I was happy to explain things they didn’t understand, like slang or if someone was talking to us and they didn’t understand what they were saying.

How do you have fun with different dialects?

Pooja: I think it’s always fun to try something new and learning a new dialect can be a lot of fun! Like Winteroseca, I like to switch between accents/dialects for fun sometimes and it can be nice not to take things so seriously. I think it also opens you up to new experiences, new people and can be a fun way to learn more about the country/area you are currently in. 

Winteroseca: I love comedy that tastefully jokes about language and dialects. Even if I don’t speak a certain language, I can appreciate comedians that can use a language they speak to make humour translate between cultures. I like to make up some jokes of my own. When I was in London, there were so many ways of saying different things in different English dialects that I tried them all. It was rich in different ways of talking. Plus, I kept needing to frame-switch depending on who I was talking to. 

Sometimes, I can get a little sassy with my frame-switching. If someone says something, and I want to politely tease them, I put on a different accent and pretend I don’t understand what they are talking about. What’s the point of speaking in different accents and dialects if you can’t have a little tasteful fun with them?

Example:

What are the annoying things about speaking in a different dialect and/or accent?

Pooja: It annoys me when people judge you based on your dialect or accent. Like, a lot of people will tell me I don’t sound “Kenyan/African/Indian” which is so weird to me because we don’t all have one dialect/accent. People also sometimes assume that if you speak differently you are not as smart/good at English as they are which is something I experienced at university which was a bit frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you have to try to be better than everyone else just so you can get on the same level as them or so that people will take what you are saying seriously. You have to work harder because every mistake you make will be a reflection of your culture/race/nationality instead of just a mistake you made. 

Winteroseca: The thing I really can’t stand is people who won’t talk slowly enough so you can understand them. Either that, or if you ask them to slow down, they talk to you like an idiot. To me, it’s disrespectful to either not slow down, or talk to someone like they’re an idiot because they have an accent. It’s embarrassing enough to ask someone to repeat something anyway. After I repatriated to the US, it was more embarrassing to ask people to repeat what they said. There was more pressure to understand Americans because sometimes, they couldn’t hear my UK accent. Since I have American parents, I felt like I should be familiar with how Americans talk and others thought the same about me as well. People often associate accents with intelligence and that’s absolutely wrong. Sometimes, when people make fun of the way you talk, it can be in bad taste, and I hate that as well.

I also hate how people have stereotypical thinking about certain accents or dialects. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to correct people on their thinking. The good thing is I am not afraid to call people out and some people do listen to me. I hate how other people don’t listen though. My trick for calling out Americans is to say, “Don’t say that. It makes you sound like a Trump supporter!” That works, especially if the people I talk to are not Trump supporters!

After I moved to Canada, I was confused about how to talk or spell for a while. Thanks to influences from both the US and UK, it felt chaotic! Now I know that context and regions are a factor in how people talk.

 

What are your personal tips for adjusting to a new dialect?

Pooja: My main tip would be to dive into their culture. If you are moving to a new place watch their local shows, listen to their music, read their literature, etc. Get a feel of what it’s like and what people there are like so you can assimilate better. It will be a bit hard at first but once you actually mingle with everyone you will be able to adjust over time and you will feel like one of the locals before you know it. 

Winteroseca: The best thing you can do initially is to listen to how people talk. It’s important to not make assumptions either. For instance, you may have been exposed to stereotypical thinking, and you might not know if it’s true. Now is the time to question whether or not something is a stereotype. It is good to do research beforehand of dialects, but even then, it can be incomplete. There’s nothing like getting out in the world and doing things. You will make mistakes while learning to speak in a different way. It can be tough to not be hard on yourself, especially if you aren’t in a supportive environment. But it’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one who has struggled with a new way of talking. It can be helpful to find others to share stories with.