Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Coffee Break

"One regular coffee!" the newest occupant of the cafe bellowed before even sitting down. He said it as if the simplicity of his order justified the interruption it caused the waitress and the other patrons. His friend quickly corrected him. ", no. one irregular coffee!" he shouted with a straight face, mocking how seriously the first character took his order.

I chuckled with some of the others. Of course there's no such thing as an irregular coffee. But is there even such a thing as "regular coffee"? In Boston regular coffee includes cream and sugar. They'll give you black coffee in other parts of the U.S. if you order regular. I'm not sure what the customer in our cafe was picturing when he ordered but I would guess he received an espresso with milk (pictured above). In other words, what's regular is not always easily defined.

When I first conceptualized a culture shock blog I did so in the strict rubric of my "regular" American experience against the "irregular" culture I was constantly interacting with in Croatia. Many posts certainly take that form. But the more I think about it, and the longer I live here, the more I'm convinced that my perspective is not uniquely American nor do the majority of Americans necessarily share my worldview. Therefore, depending on your background, the contents of this blog may not be the regular coffee you thought you were getting when you first arrived.

For example, when I discuss learning a foreign language, especially Croatian, most Americans won't be hanging to my every word. When I write about finding the cross, I may only find an audience made up of those concerned about following the One who made it significant. My eating habits, my driving experiences and my opinions are all things the typical American may not identify with - even if they were planning on coming to Croatia or are already here - because we come from different viewpoints. And the posts written from my kids' perspective will only be interesting if you have one of two last names.

Obviously, there are a lot of reasons I blog. But I'm finding that I'm primarily interested in tracking how my (sometimes irregular) experiences change me. What do I learn from my children? How do those closest to me influence my life? Does the faith that I grew up with develop? How? In what ways does the culture I live in shape my values? Those are some of the questions I'm concerned with.

They aren't unusual questions. They are prompts many of us pause to think about no matter where we live, what we believe or what we do. They provide a normal context for thought. They are part of an ongoing  conversation to which others greatly contribute.

So as time moves on, this blog will inevitably change. The posts are already becoming less "American in Croatia" and more "this is what I experienced/learned today". They aren't regular or irregular. Life, as it turns out, is a little grayer than that. The stories are what bring color to our lives. They've been the part of this blog I enjoy the most. And I hope to share more of them in the future.

So if you've been around here for awhile, thanks for reading. If you're new, take a browse through past posts. Regardless of how long you've been here, grab a coffee and feel free to share your thoughts. Whether they're regular, irregular, or somewhere in between, they are always welcome.


Lafemmet said...

Love reading your blog. when I get back to Serbia, I am sure I will be posting things like this again. Right now I am getting a little nervous about the difference in raising kids. I am sure you know there are many. It will be fine. But My methods are really American. and I know my mother-in-law will be a little shocked sometimes. :/ and then so will I. I would love to read about some of the differences in raising children you two have encountered in your cross cultural marriage.
God bless you all.

Kevin and Alyssa Walker said...

Really enjoy reading your blog bro. You have a great writing style, and great insight.

ilario said...
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SJ Begonja said...

Culture shock - it says it all, and your post is really great!!

I am also making the move to Croatia very soon - I've just followed your blog and hope to be inspired.

Would love for you to also follow my blog - and maybe you'll have some great tips to share along the way?