Intern Lunch: Thirsty Thursdays are Worldwide

30 June 2011
At around 12:45, the British intern, who sits two computers down from me, rolls her chair slightly out from our row of three to whisper- yell “Emma, lunch soon?” To which I always reply, “Yes, the moment I finish this article.” Which is always at 1 pm.
 
Intern lunch at 1pm: one of the highlights of my day. We venture upwards, to our office rooftop, a rooftop that glances over the city skyline.
 
A little background on the interns I work with (titled by nationalities to protect their anonymity):
 
London: An absolutely charming, and wonderfully chatty, 30- year- old going through a quarter life change (or crisis, however you wish to look at it. She used to work in Human Resources, decided it wasn’t her calling. Got her internship here in Australia and has plans to return back to school once home in London.) I was shocked to hear her age. It’s not that she looks 30; She’s more of a neutral age look type. London just blends so well with the rest of the interns, communicating so naturally with us, never once placing herself on a pedestal solely based off of her age and obviously years more experience. We spent our first lunch together in Hyde Park… she’s Muslim and I’m Jewish. There’s an indie movie titled Arranged; The movie is about, among other things, the blossoming friendship between two orthodox women: one Jewish, the other Muslim. I felt as if my Hyde Park lunch date with London was Arranged’s secular sequel.
 
Paris: Unknown to her, I am secretly obsessed with Paris. In addition to her extraordinary fashion sense, Paris possesses a heart of pure gold. During our intern lunch today, Paris, mid conversation, exclaimed, “All my friends are beautiful.” To which I joked, “So you’re only friends with beautiful people?” We all laughed good naturedly and Paris gently and honestly responded, “My friends' hearts are beautiful. I don’t even realize, nor does it even matter what they look like.” So if you’re not sold by her incredible Parisian style or her natural kindness, consider the fact that she moved abroad to Australia for the year. To a land in which the language is not her primary tongue. To a work place in which she is expected to speak, read, write and work in English. I truly admire her for it. Paris is convinced I look and act exactly like her friend from home. She showed me the Facebook profile page of this friend (who I would say shares my eye color and hair cut) and turned to one of the employees to ask his opinion. He now calls me Frenchy. I haven’t been called Frenchy since 9th grade French class.
 
Australia: I sit next to Australia. She projects a vibe of “bad girl” on the outside, tough and blunt. Her outward appearance, however, projects nothing about who Australia truly is. Australia is a pleasure to sit next to. She and I had both had a cold the first week at work… she gave me tissues. She has taught me that there really is no way to judge a person by the exterior.
 
New Jersey: Her name (ok her state name) accurately describes her... if you go by the NJ stereotype; Bleached blonde hair (she mentioned she was going to bring her extensions to Australia but changed her mind last minute), asked where she could get her acrylics done in Sydney, is loud, bites her nails and always has a cigarette in hand when she is on break. But as much as she lives up to her name, New Jersey adds such spirit to our intern conversations, her lack of filter over her spoken thoughts always serving a spoon of surprise. 
 
I also work with a boy from my program. He and I are Facebook friends, so writing a blurb about him would just be… well, creepy.
 
I’ve written before, but I love that my internship allows me to gather a first hand look into the nuances of Australian culture. I pick up on local phrases, I write about current events and I have started naturally spelling words with s’s and ou’s.
 
But from my fellow interns, I gain snippets of their cultures, cultures from all around the world. And today marked one of the most important discoveries: Thirsty Thursday exists worldwide.
 
It started with New Jersey claiming that Thursdays are Fridays in college. To which I agreed, having had my Tuesdays and Fridays off for the past year. London then chuckled. It’s always Friday on a Thursday come evening time in England, she said. “Thirsty Thursday!” New Jersey exclaimed. “Ah yes, we have that too,” Paris said. “Us too,” chimed Mexico (an employee, not an intern which is why she didn’t get her own blurb.)
 
Upside down, on the total opposite side of the world, a clash of cultures interacts, discovering that a college fad is in fact a real life activity.  
 
I was reading Travel Chic this morning. It’s a wonderful travel blog, written by a fellow sorority sister. I particularly enjoy her guest blog features, finding myself enthralled by Carol’s post. (READ IT. It’s great.) Carol, who has spent the past semester and summer in Italy, reflects on the idea that in order to appreciate and, in a way, discover your culture, you have to throw yourself into a culture foreign to your natural surroundings. Which she has, in her time abroad.
 
It’s fascinating because I have noticed the exact same, here in Australia. People are fascinated with my American accent, often mimicking my intonation (which is weird because it’s usually my British parents who get the accent attention at home!) and are always glad to assist the moment I, or any fellow American, express confusion. (Australians use coins for dollars. I spent quite a bit of time counting my coins, ensuring I had the proper amount to pay the cashier at the till my first few days here. No one expressed exasperation with my lack of Australian currency knowledge. Really, no huff or puff. Merely a smile and a “It’s probably tough using foreign money,” remark.)
 
I’m also aware of the significant influence American culture has abroad; During my Friday, night Shabbat dinner with my family friend, I was grilled about our TV shows, falling into an avid conversation about How I Met Your Mother. (I felt so ignorant [American stereotype?] as I couldn’t even begin to list anything at all related to Australian pop culture.) The music in Australian clubs is all American music.  The movies in theaters are largely Hollywood films. I Google topics, and it’s usually a .com link that appears. (Australian sites are .com.au.)
 
I never really considered myself as standing out because of my status as an American. I wonder if Paris, if London… if the rest of the interns feel the same way about where they are from.
 
Today, I realize I do stand apart. I am from America and I am proud of my home.  It’s funny it’s taken a trip across the world for me to realize the fact.



(July 10: Blog post was linked to on: Mental Mosaic)

2 Response to Intern Lunch: Thirsty Thursdays are Worldwide

July 9, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Love the vivid descriptions of all your co-workers! I know what you mean about how living in another country makes you more proud of your heritage. The most patriotic 4th of July I ever spent was while living in Belgium, for instance.

Thanks again for joining in on the Traveler's Show & Tell blog carnival over at Mental Mosaic
http://tinyurl.com/CatPooCoffee

Hope to see you there again soon!
~Tui

July 19, 2011 at 9:37 AM

The only time I've been moved to celebrate St. George's Day was when I was in San Francisco. We went looking for a specific English pub there, but couldn't find it... I think that was the most British I felt in a long time!

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