Know Thyself

The New You
Creative Commons License photo credit: The Welsh Poppy

Aaaaand I’m back!

I was gone for a week, and then came home and went for another week, and then came home and was exhausted.

But let’s leave all that behind us and sally forth, shall we?

I present to you three anectodes:


I spoke with an Australian woman who assured me that Australian girls and women do not use the term “mate” in the laddish way that Aussie guys do. (And Aussie guys, as a rule, use it all the time.)

“Hello, mate, how ya goin’?”

“Look mate, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Maaaaate? What were you thinking?”

And the government’s ad: “Mates don’t let mates drive drunk.”

According to the woman I speak of, the female Aussie abstains from such behavior. She wasn’t saying that women don’t as much as guys. She wasn’t saying that it’s not that common. Her point was that it’s so rare as to be nonexistent.

But… I’ve met several Aussie women who use the term exactly in that way. They do! They really do! Plenty of them. Enough of them for there to be people who say that they don’t like it when women say mate.

But I couldn’t convince this lady, and honestly, it seemed hugely pretentious that I should try. After all, she’s Australian and who the hell am I?


The following two conversations happened within 24 hours of each other:

Convo 1: I had lunch with two Swedish couples who were talking about the nannies they’d hired to watch their kids.

Convo 2: I was told by a Swedish mother that, although she doesn’t know how Americans do it, Swedish mothers do all the child stuff themselves, and don’t use nannies and the like.

I didn’t even peep. Those of you who know me know how hard it is for me not to peep under those circumstances. But I had learned from the Aussie lady up above.


This just happened today.

I was chatting with a Dutch mom about schools. She said that it’s sad how people in the US have to spend so much money to send their kids to elementary and high school.

I pointed out that public schools are free. I went to one, as did most of the people I know. Then she said that in the Netherlands, there aren’t any private schools to speak of.

We looked it up together. She was SHOCKED to find that, apparently, about two-thirds of Dutch students attend private schools. I’m not sure she believed it even then.

The Conclusion

People don’t know about their own countries. They know what they’ve experienced, and they extrapolate from there.

And I don’t believe a word of it anymore. I’ve learned. When people say anything about the people of their country, I just assume that it’s all wrong.

The Bonus Anecdote

When I was far from home, and much younger than I am today, I had an argument with a girl from Philly. She described Dunkin’ Donuts Boston Kreme donuts, and I said that Dunkin’ Donuts in Atlanta didn’t carry them. She’d never been to Atlanta, but guaranteed that we had Boston Kreme donuts.

Actually, she was pretty scornful. As though I was some kind of an idiot. As for me, I took the position of, “how the hell would YOU know?”

Of course, she was right. In every damn store, Dunkin’ Donuts has Boston Kreme donuts, and they’re awesome. I don’t understand why anyone would eat any other donut at that place.

Elisa, you were right.


Boston Kreme Donut Nutritional Information

Overview of the Netherlands Educational System

2 Responses to Know Thyself

  1. Danielle August 24, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    1. I think you’re a very big person not to peep about the Swedes. I don’t think I could’ve kept quiet. 2. I agree with your conclusion that people in general don’t know much about their people. And really, people in the North don’t know much about people in the South unless they’ve lived here, and vice versa. This is a big country. I’ve heard all kinds of crazy presumptions. 3. You hang out with a very international crowd, so that’s cool.

  2. admin August 24, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    I usually piss people off by peeping too much. Every once in a while I keep quiet.

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