My Culture, Myself.

| September 27, 2013 | 2 Comments

I am American. That much is clear. But despite what my accent suggests, I am not only American. I was born in Australia and while I only lived there for two years, it’s an important piece of who I am. My dad has an accent, the entire paternal side of my family—and now my brother—lives there, and a large majority of my vacations as a child included a fourteen-hour plane ride across the Pacific Ocean.

When I was a child, I found joy in telling everyone this “fun-fact” about myself. I thought I was smart with my riddle question “how can you be born in the summer but have your birthday in the winter?” (I promise that this was a stumper in the second grade). I got to show off my dad’s accent to all of my friends. Once I got a little older I stopped sharing this fact with people. It started to feel like I was bragging about my dual-citizenship, about how much I travel, or about my uniqueness. It felt like an unnecessary and extraneous detail. What did it matter where I was born or that my family lived on the other side of the world? It didn’t make me special. I looked, sounded, and acted like any other American. I didn’t have any real claim on being Australian because I never really lived there and I didn’t even have an accent. Besides, Australia felt so similar to the United States that I often felt that even if I did have a claim it still wasn’t important—it didn’t make me special or unique. It didn’t give me culture.

Since moving away from my hometown, the frequency with which I reveal that I am half Australian has increased. It isn’t because I’m trying to brag or trying to one up others in individuality. It’s because I can’t avoid it. It’s because it’s who I am. My pre-teen/teenage self was incorrect about a lot of things and these misconceptions about not having a claim on being Australian or not having any culture are one of them. Everyone has culture, and everyone has a claim on being from somewhere.

This, for the record, is an akubra.

I am Australian, and that’s an important key to explaining why I am who I am. I love to travel and love airplanes, most likely because I did it so much as a child. My pronunciation of ‘pasta’ is a little strange and occasionally I let a ‘serviette’, ‘cutlery’ or ‘heaps’ slip. I listened to The Wiggles when they only had cassette tapes and as a life long owner of Ugg boots, I know that they were never really supposed to be worn outside. I know that ‘tire’ can be spelt ‘tyre’, have two passports, and frequently shorten people’s names to a single syllable. My dry and ironic sense of humor is one hundred percent Australian and I know what an akubra is and have tried to steal my dad’s multiple times. Vegemite and Milo have always been staples of my diet and Tim Tams and Barbecue Shapes are my favorite indulgences. These small facts about me make up my culture. They mean I have a culture and they make up me. Despite the fact that I say “tomato” and they say “tom-ah-to”, I am Australian. And that matters.

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Category: featured, Philosophy and Religion

Mackenzie Morgan

About the Author ()

Even though she's not sure how it happened, Mackenzie is a senior. She is also a cake connoisseur, self-declared hobby architect, and co-Editor-in-Chief of Culture Shock. She hails from a small snow globe of a town deep in the mountains of Colorado and is ridiculously proud of the fact that she's half Australian. She's working towards molding young minds as she studies History Education and American Studies with a minor in Political Science, but she would also like to be a princess (or maybe a lawyer). Her weaknesses and greatest enemies include mornings, ketchup, and mascots. Mostly Mackenzie likes to tweet about sandwiches (@Kenz_LM), eat soup, look at the moon, and work towards being Hermione Granger.

Comments (2)

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  1. Tino Bratbo says:

    It took me a long time to come to terms with my Danish heritage, and the fact that I don’t live there anymore. And that is despite the fact that I did grow up where I was born. But it is still hard. The experience of so many immigrants is one in which they belong to neither country – in one they are always perceived as an immigrant and in the other they are always perceived as an expatriate. Even when that isn’t the case, there is often – at least there is for me – a feeling of self-consciousness that prevents us from truly claiming one or the other. That is why so often “immigrant” or “expatriate” is the identity we choose, as opposed to the former or latter nationality.

  2. Rebekah says:

    Literally my life… just switch the country

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