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About Hayley

Just an Aussie studying abroad in Michigan and loving every minute of it!

7 American Holiday Traditions

The luckiest part about arriving in the United States for a semester at the end of their summer is being able to experience almost all of their seasons. With the seasons, of course, come the celebration of holidays and the traditions that go along with it. As such, I have made a list of 7 very American holiday traditions that I have noticed during my time at Michigan State University.

1. Fall Decorations
In Brisbane, we don’t see many leaves “fall” at all. In Michigan, it is a whole different story – when I arrived, the trees were a beautiful green. Within a few months, they began to change to beautiful shades of orange, yellow and red. With this comes the celebration of the fall season – including fall wreaths on doors as early as August, many pumpkins and also Halloween decorations.

2. Fall Food
With the fall decorations, there are also an array of food offered in stores and cafeterias alike. In fact, it may as well be retitled “Apples vs Pumpkins” as you will not turn right without seeing an apple pie or a pumpkin spiced latte.

3. Halloween
If you think you have seen any sort of Halloween celebration growing up in Australia, you need to think again. With Halloween falling on a Monday this year, celebrations began the Thursday before, with some sort of party/celebration occurring each night until 31 October. This also taught me that it is possible to creatively whip up 5 different costumes at very short notice!

4. Thanksgiving
My first real thanksgiving is yet to occur in the following few days. From what I can tell, American families are beautiful and welcoming, especially to young international students they are newly friends with. Stay tuned for an update on the dinner!

5. Door Decorations
From Halloween, to Thanksgiving, and coming up to Christmas, the students in the dorm LOVE to get around celebrating the seasons on their dorm room doors. Halloween saw an array of spider webs, spiders, pumpkins and even baskets of ‘candy’ to share with fellow students. As Thanksgiving approaches, I have seen some Fall/Thanksgiving decorations with many happy wishes on the students’ exterior whiteboards. As we are also getting closer to Christmas there have been Christmas decorations slowly appearing on the doors (my own included – see below).

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6. Ugly Christmas Sweaters
E
xperiencing seasons on the other side of the world means that Christmas is of course in winter. With winter comes jumpers, and naturally, with Christmas means ugly Christmas jumpers. Again, see above myself getting into this traditional seasonal trend.

7. Christmas Lights
Another one of the many incredible things of living on a huge campus is watching it light up at night with snow flakes, stars, Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Both externally on top of campus buildings and internally in the dorm rooms and homes there have been an abundance of lights put up recently and it looks absolutely beautiful.

I look forward to seeing what my final months bring and if there are anymore surprising/extravagant holiday traditions to come. Until next time!

 

7 Questions from Americans

There is no question that there are many cultural differences between Australians and Americans. Being the complete other side of the world from on another, we experience different climates, holidays, and ultimately very different lives.

I have been in the United States for just under a month now, and have met a countless number of young American men and women in my time living at Michigan State University. In my time here thus far, I have come to find that nothing lights up the eyes of an American college student like hearing the sweet sound of an Australian accent.

After they get over the initial shock of being in the presence of someone who truly is from the land down under, the questions start coming. As a result, I have compiled a list of seven of the more humourous questions that have been asked of me in the past month:

1: Where is your accent from?
You never truly notice your native accent until you are placed in a completely different environment. I have been in elevators, Uber rides, classes, shops and restaurants where people are quite visibly astonished (and most of the time fascinated)  by the way that us Australians speak. I’ve turned it into somewhat of a game, where when asked this question I let them guess first, and have had many responses ranging from England to Germany, and Turkey to Mars.

2: Sorry, what did you say?
Often the other Australian exchange students and myself have found that we need to repeat ourselves in order for people to understand what we are saying. Whether its a “Hey, how’s it garn” to “Can I please have a water?”, many Americans struggle with understanding our accent. But both parties in the conversation end up laughing about it – it’s all fun and games.

3: Want to throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate?
To this one I always use a canned response – “We call them prawns, not shrimp.”

4: Do you know Flume?
From the very first house party (of which there are many) that I have attended so far, a lot of American students have asked if we know Flume. Whether they meant personally or his music I am still not sure, but that is a frequent question that I and the other Aussies abroad often get asked.

5: Have you tried (Taco Bell/Chipotle/Conrads)?
Americans are very fond of their token fast food chains. In answering this question, I have to admit that all of the above are incredible foods for the early hours of the morning after a night out, but I would question their quality at any other time of day.

6: Have you seen snow?
Personally I haven’t seen real snow before, which gets most Americans rather excited. Being in Michigan, I often get the warning that I am “in for a real treat” with a cold Michigan winter.

7: Do you celebrate Christmas?
I saved my favourite question until last. It is hard to say why this question amused me so much, and for them to think we are too far removed from the rest of the world to know about Christmas. In their defense, this question came soon after me admitting we do not celebrate Thanksgiving, but it has nonetheless been my favourite question to date.

There is a real difference between our cultures, but at the end of the day the Australian-American interaction is an educational, hilarious, and absolutely amazing one. I honestly can’t wait to see what they have to ask next.

Until next time!