My Parents Culture Shock Moments

In four days my parents will be leaving flying back to the States after spending three and a half weeks in Melbourne. This holiday has been an amazing experience that allowed me to not only be with mom and dad for the first time since January 2010, but also teach them about the city where God has called me to minister. It’s really been joy to see my parents learn more about the Australian culture but also witness this time in Melbourne have an impact on them personally.

All of us who have visited foreign countries whether it’s for a short visit or long-term move will find its culture rubbing off on us somehow. Most of the times by reshaping ideas about decision making, priorities, or relationships, but there are also moments of “culture shock” that take us by surprise. Over the last month I have witnessed my parents go through a number of those culture shock moments…and loved every moment of it.

Now I realize that makes me sound like a terrible person so allow me to explain. Those experiences took a sledgehammer to the preconceived notions they had about life in Melbourne (editors note: You can’t blame them of course they are ignorant Americans) and developed a respect for the Aussie culture along with a better understanding of my mission field. Granted culture shock (particularly those that take away things we are used to having) can be painful but the lessons learned, and memories made greatly outweigh the momentary discomfort.

I couldn’t have been prouder of my parents as they dove into the Aussie culture during their time in Melbourne but can’t help but remember some of my favorite culture shock moments during their trip.

1. The moment me and my dad went to a cafe and he asked the barista for a cup of brewed coffee, she responded like a dog who had just heard a high-pitched whistle…to dads credit he learned that the words brewed coffee should never be used when ordering at a cafe and he became a connoisseur of Cappuccino’s and Flat Whites by the end of his stay.

2. The moment my mother found out there was no corn-meal, Philadelphia cream cheese, grits, or sausage in the Australian grocery stores

3. The moment they watched the 5:00 am news report for Monday at 7:00 that evening…followed closely by watching the Today Show from America that had been recorded at 2:00 am Australian time

4. The moment they wore heavy coats and tried their best to stay warm while traveling into the city only to take them off in the warm afternoon sunshine

5. The moment mom came to visit one of my ministries and in a group of twenty-two people one of them was Australian

6. The moment they finally gave up and stopped looking for kangaroos on the side of the road

7. The moment my father had his first kebab at a Turkish restaurant while Arabic music videos played on the television

8. The moment they went to a pastors house for lunch and spent four hours there

9. The moment they tried to buy me a bath towel and realized it would take a home loan (just kidding..sort of)

10. The moment my mother met a class of third and fourth graders at the school where I volunteer and learned all of them had been born in Countries
other than Australia

These moments are precious to me because they reveal to mom and dad reasons why I love Melbourne and have been called by God to this city. Its my prayer that the Lord would use experiences like this to help my parents and friends help others understand how things are done differently in other cultures. Oh and don’t worry I just read this post to them and they found it very funny, well most of it anyways.

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

3 thoughts on “My Parents Culture Shock Moments”

  1. We absolutely, 100%, definitely, without a doubt, do have Philadelphia Cream Cheese in Australia! We even have TV ads!

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