The postcard swap project

A while ago, Pocket Cultures managing editor Lucy organized a postcard swap and many contributors joined in. the idea was to send a postcard of pour hometown or country. Since I don’t live in a touristy part of town, and Dallas is not that touristy anyway, I couldn’t find any postcards. So I decided to make my own, all except one. I cut up images that represent Dallas and Texas and pasted them on a piece of card.

I went to a Kinko’s to mail them instead of the post office. The shop assistant was young enough to be my son. He picked up one postcard, turned it around in his hand and asked what it was. “It’s a postcard,” I said. “Oh, really? Cool!” “I guess you’re too young for those.”

I got one postcard from Marie from New Zealand with a cool looking Gandalf stamp. Kia ora, Marie! (more…)

July 12, 2013 Comments disabled

Easter around the world

Our contributors describe Easter celebrations in their countries, how traditions have changed over the years and the history and significance of those celebrations. They share their family traditions as well. Learn more about Easter in Australia, Costa Rica, France, Portugal and the United States.

Easter bilby

Photo: Australian Bilby Appreciation Society

Australia – Liz

Easter in Australia can be summed up in one, sweet and very commercially oriented word – chocolate! For at least a month leading up to Easter chocolate eggs and bunnies can be spied creeping their way all over the supermarket shelves. While the religious meaning of Easter is pertinent for some, most Australians enjoy the four day weekend and chocolate fest that ensues.

Popular options include the Lindt gold bunny, Cadbury crème eggs and the uniquely Australian chocolate bilby, a chocolate incarnation of a near extinct native animal, similar to a bandicoot. People also love to scoff hot cross buns which appear in bakeries during the month leading up to Easter.

The Easter bunny traditionally leaves chocolate eggs for kids overnight in the vein of Santa Claus, while some families have adopted the Easter egg hunt, though this isn’t something that has always been typical of the Australian Easter (when I was a kid no-one did this – I think we’ve adopted this from Europe and the US in recent years). However the chocolate arrives, as long as it does I say!

Costa Rica – Nuria

Nuria shared that “in Costa Rica it does have a very religious meaning, and we actually celebrate the whole week, so for us it’s “Holy Week” instead of just “Easter”. Read more about Costa Rican Easter celebrations here. (more…)

April 4, 2012 2 comments

Lucy, our Managing Editor, experiences the world from Turkey

Meet Lucy! Lucy is our Managing Editor here at Pocket Cultures, the woman without whom Pocket Cultures wouldn’t exist! Lucy is British but she and her husband and their baby daughter Samira live in Turkey. Today, Lucy tells us about her love of seeing the world, what she misses most about the UK and why she loves living in Turkey and learning new languages.

Lucy, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve been fascinated with languages and other cultures since first visiting France as a teenager. Throughout university my school friend and I worked part time jobs during the summer holidays to save up and travel for a few weeks. Now I’ve lived in four different countries and still love learning languages – currently I’m working on my Turkish and trying to learn Arabic too.

Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?

At the moment I live in Turkey. My husband Karim and I met in Spain and we thought it would be good to live in a third country as we’re both from different places. We both liked Turkey so here we are!

If you would describe yourself as multi-cultural, tell us a bit about what culture you most identify with and why. If you have kids, what culture do they most associate with?

Well, I had a thoroughly English upbringing and never lived outside the UK until I was 19. However since then I’ve lived in several different countries and my husband is not British, so I suppose I identify less completely with English culture than before.

Now part of my family is Libyan and Italian and at the moment most of my day to day interactions are with Turks so of course that alters the way I see the world and behave with other people.

I’m curious to see which cultures our daughter will associate with. She hears English, Italian and Turkish on a daily basis and since we joined a couple of international playgroups she already has friends from many different nationalities.

Can you describe a typical day for you?

Well, since I have a 4 month old baby this answer would have been very different a year ago! For the last few years, I worked from home doing freelance consulting as well as running PocketCultures so I used to spend hours every day in front of the computer.

These days I normally get up sometime between 6 and 8am, feed the baby and have breakfast with my husband. Then whilst the baby naps I catch up on what’s going on with PocketCultures. Later either I take the baby for a walk outside, or we meet neighbours or friends for coffee or join in a playgroup. To get to the town centre from where we live I have to take a dolmuş (shared taxi) and then a tram so I don’t go very often. But our neighbours often organise meetups at home and I sometimes meet friends in a nearby shopping centre.

After the baby goes to bed in the evening I have dinner with my husband, do some chores and hopefully get time to read for a while.

What language or languages do you use on a day to day basis?

English at home, Turkish everywhere else. We also have some Italian and French-speaking friends so I use those languages quite often too.

What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?

Nobody is going to believe this but I really miss English food. Having said that Turkish food is pretty good too. The worst thing about England is the weather and the lack of intercultural awareness.

The best part of living in Turkey is the people – they are extremely friendly and welcoming and in general tolerant and flexible. For me the hardest thing is having to negotiate frequently. I’m not used to it and so I find it hard to get into the ‘game’ sometimes.

Describe a favourite typical meal from your country

The most typical English meal has to be the roast dinner, or ‘Sunday roast’ (because it’s traditional to eat it for lunch on Sunday). It consists of roast meat, which could be beef, lamb, pork or chicken, accompanied by potatoes and lots of vegetables. We eat the meal with gravy, a kind of sauce made from the meat juice. There are also various accompaniments depending on the type of meat, for example mint sauce for lamb, horseradish sauce for beef.

What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?

How cold English houses are. Despite the cold climate we use the heating as little as possible. Plus many houses are old and not well insulated, so they can be quite cold. We are used to it though.

March 15, 2012 10 comments

From our contributors: week of February 20

Another week, another selection of articles written by our contributors on their personal blogs.

Fietsenwinkel in Haarlem / Bike shop SFA002000458 Nationaal Archief/Spaarnestad Photo/Het Leven Nederlands: Fietsen. Interieur van de rijwielzaak / fietsenwinkel van A.P. de Graaff, Koninginneweg 48 te Haarlem. 1916. English: Interior of bicycle dealer A.P. de Graaff, 48 Koninginneweg in Haarlem, the Netherlands. 1916. (Via Flickr - Creative Commons)

Mike, our contributor from Japan, posted a photo essay entitled The Surprise at Tachigawa Waterfalls in Okinawa

“Going down the stairs to see the waterfall there is plenty of shade in the forest. It takes a few minutes to find the waterfall but, you can hear it, somewhere off in the distance.”

Sandra, our contributor from Portugal, wrote a post about biking in The Netherlands, and her own experiences with the bicycle.

“When we think about The Netherlands, we think about bikes and cycling paths. It’s one of the country’s trademarks.”

DeeBee, our contributors from France, wrote about Printemps Department Store, a historic landmark in Paris.

“The prestigious Printemps was founded on 11 May 1865 by Jules Jaluzot, a former supervisor of Le Bon Marché department store. The original and small building burnt down in 1881. It was rebuilt in 1889 and stretched over 3000m2 onto the Rue Caumartin and Rue de Provence.”

Liz, our contributor from Australia, wrote about the wide array of ethnic food found in Sydney.

“SYDNEY’S culturally diverse population produces no shortage of delicious cuisine from all over the world. A trip to the suburbs, particularly those in the city’s inner west, south west and west uncovers an amazing array of eats from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America and more. It’s literally the world on a plate.”

Read more

From our contributors: week of February 6
5 interesting facts about Australia
DeeBee, regional contributor from France

February 21, 2012 1 comment

Mike: “Anywhere you go in the World, you will see Children Smile”

Mike is a retired engineer currently living in Okinawa, Japan, and also one of our regional contributors here at Pocket Cultures. Mike would describe himself not as an “expat” but as a “transplant”. In today’s interview, Mike tells us about his experiences travelling the world and getting to know other cultures and specifically his insight for how to blend and avoid behaving like a “high and mighty foreigner.” And above all, the best advice: listen to Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.”

Photo credit: Luis Sanchez

Here is Mike’s story, in his words:

At age 17, after graduating high school, I left the farm in upstate New York to travel the world.  My first taste of culture shock came soon afterwards.  People, even in the USA, didn’t know someone from New York could be a farmer. People around the world, at least back in the 60′s, thought everyone from New York lived in a big city!  Hopefully the internet has changed all that.


February 15, 2012 5 comments

Bryan from the Philippines: A Smile For Every Occasion

Bryan, our regional Pocket Cultures contributor from the Philippines tells us a bit about the best parts of his country, including videoke, San Miguel beer and Weng Weng. Don’t know who Weng Weng is? Read on!

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Bryan Ocampo. I guide tourists in my country and I also write for a mobile content provider in Pasig City. I love watching World War 2 documentaries and US sitcoms. My main interests are Philippine history, anime and manga (Japanese comics); eating sanzrival from my grandparents’ home province; drinking and videoke with my friends. I like hanging out with people who have a good sense of humor. I’m a Beatles Man.

February 2, 2012 1 comment