Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Interview Me!

Over on Camels and Chocolate is a lovely meme called "Interview Me".  I'm always looking for inspiration when it comes to blogging, so I've volunteered for Kristin to interview me, and she supplied me with these fabulous questions.  So here goes:

1. You took a 13-week-long trip around North America and saw more of the continent than many people who have lived here their whole lives. Did you find the American and Canadian people and culture quite similar to Australia? What were the similarities you experienced? Total differences?

I was surprised at the differences.  And different differences.  

In the US, my sense of humour totally went over everyone's head.  I would be roaring with laughter at something, but everyone would look at me like I was completely bonkers.  Maybe I am completely bonkers?  I was also impressed by the kind of formal politeness that American people generally exhibited.  People didn't make so many smart arse remarks, and weren't so aggressive and pushy.  A polite "Excuse me." is heard far more often there than here.  Well, you hear it in Australia as an insult.  EXCUUUUUSSSSSE ME!  However, I did notice that on duty service people are generally invisible to most Americans.  I was constantly surprising janitors or waiters and such with my chit chat or acknowledgement of them while they were working.

Another interesting thing I noticed was that cultures don't mix much in the US.  Not in a nasty, racist way, but just because there are so many folks there, that you have enough people to have a doctor, or a plumber, or neighbours all round, of the same culture as you.  And along I came from Australia, where there are only 20 million of us, so we're all mixed up and HAVE to be in contact with each other, and I would bowl up to an African American person, or a gay person, or a Chinese person, or a Hispanic person etc and start talking to them.  I felt like they weren't used to having a white/hetero chick just start talking to them without being introduced by someone else from their culture.  Does that make sense?

In Canada, the sense of humour is a lot closer to ours - or it certainly is in BC where I was.  I felt more connected to Canadians in general, not that it detracted from how much I loved the US, I just felt a commonality.  And while general Canadian culture is very different to ours here in Oz, they hang on to their culture in the same way we do.  Both countries kind of revel in our quirkiness.

With the US, the similarities I thought were there were actually more superficial.  Sure the music and the movies are there on the surface, but deep down we do think different and behave differently.

2. Did you have a favorite city from your trip? Somewhere you think is totally overrated? (You better not say San Francisco! HA! Only kidding...sorta!)

Ooh, I couldn't say any one place was the very bestest.  I loved different places for different reasons.  The most beautiful place was Gibsons in British Columbia.  Good God that place was gobsmackingly beautiful.


New York City was the most iconic, I did fall quite in love with it.  Chicago (and where I stayed with friends at Aurora) felt like home.  I could very easily live there, I just felt like I belonged.  San Francisco was SOOOOO much fun!  I would love to spend much more time exploring there, and intend to return there before too much longer, as I have made great friends there.


I don't think anywhere was overrated, but I didn't go to any of the big tourist trap places.  I was looking for "real" America, and I think I found it.  The only bits I didn't really enjoy were Wisconsin, not because I didn't like the place (very pretty, the farms look like Fisher Price toy sets) but because the people I stayed with were... unpleasant.  They made me feel unwelcome, and one of the women I stayed told me I was uncouth for using a knife and fork in the manner that I do (I think Americans refer to it as "British-Style" - with the fork tines turned down) however she and her family were so offensive one night at dinner I hung back and slipped the waitress a $20 and apologised for their disgusting behaviour. (The waitress replied "Oh honey, you were a darling, don't you be embarrassed for their behaviour."

Florida was nice but it was too hot.  I went for winter and it was the same climate as summer back home!

A place that is underrated?  Chico California.  What a gorgeous little place!

3. Thirteen weeks is a long time to travel at once. Did you have any big self discovery throughout the process? Would you do it all over again if you could?

The whole time was a journey of self discovery.  A couple of years before I was borderline agoraphobic, other than to go to work, I wouldn't leave the house.  I had very low self esteem, and was so full of anxiety I couldn't meet new people through friends, let alone on my own.  I discovered that people like me just for who I am.  That I can make friends anywhere and everywhere.  I discovered what was important to me back home too... friends, my own bed, things sweetened with REAL sugar (not that corn syrup crap), and things like good health care and a secure job!  And being greeted at my first day back at work after 3 months by my friend LukeyB tearing across the office at the sound of my voice and hauling me into a huge hug, breathing "I missed you!" was the most wonderful feeling I think I have ever had.

And if I could, I would spend six months of the year travelling - the cooler months here, and then bugger off to the Northern Hemisphere for the shitty hot months of Brisbane.

4. Do all Aussies REALLY love vegemite that much? Or is it merely a ploy to get stupid tourists to consume something that hardly smells more appetizing than cat urine?!

And you've taken a good sniff of cat urine have you?

Yes we do.  Of course, only we know how to use it.  Everyone else slathers it on like peanut butter.  

5. You say you're an Aussie who loves cold climate (is that even possible??). If you could had to live in any Northern Hemisphere country (near the Equator doesn't count either) full time, where would you pick?

Oh yes, I love the cold.  Love it!  Love it!  Love it!  I was as happy as a pig in shit when I was at my coldest.  Of course, that is a given that I do have a warm home and clothing - I wouldn't want to have to suffer it if I didn't, because it's easier to survive in warmer climes with that kind of situation.  

I think I would choose Canada to live.  Mostly because things like health care, working conditions, personal safety are considerably better there than the US.  But if Mr Obama is able to fix those things in the US, I would happily live there.  It would be hard to choose where though.  Michigan near friends there was lovely, and as I mentioned I really felt like Illinois was home.  San Francisco was awesome but I liked the snow too much to live there.  If I lived in MI or IL it would be central enough to spread myself out all over the place.  But Mr Obama needs to fix a few things first.  Health care first - I'm disgusted that people are not able to get medicine or treatment if they don't have money/insurance.  That's just wrong.

So, the deal now is, if you would like me to interview YOU for you to post on your blog, leave me a comment (make sure you have your email address or blog link in the comment) and say "Interview me!"  I'll send you some questions within the next few days.


Unknown said...

Cool Kath, count me in! Be interested in what you might ask!

Unknown said...

Okay, I thought about it and I decided to be brave, I'm ready to be interviewed, too.

Flibbertigibbet said...

This was brilliant!
Really interesting and great questions!
Interview me sometime!