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Old 03-21-2008, 10:44 AM   #1
jess_hawk
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A bit of a rant - new friends...
So I'm spending a semester in Australia and having an amazing time. I've made several good friends, including a couple of American guys with whom I'm going to travel for "holiday." I was hanging out with one of them tonight and met a girl who is in one of my classes. All three of us hit it off really well and were having a good time, but of course we were all on the internet (I mean, "working on homework...") so we brought up maps of our hometowns to show each other. I'm from Iowa. The satellite image is from probably June, so all of the fields are full of crops and therefore the whole place is green. The image quality is horrible, so the smaller roads (and lets face it, 4 lanes is as much as we get) don't show up on satellite, and I didn't have it up on hybrid. Therefore, my new friends concluded I must be from the middle of nowhere/a hick-town/the boonies. Alright, alright. He's from Long Island and she's from somewhere in one of the local beach communities, so yes, compared to them, I'm from the middle of nowhere. So OK, I'll take a couple of hits on being from a small town. BUT I'm proud of my small town. Its a good place to grow up. So after a couple of hits, having jokes at my expense starts to sting some. (Now like I said, these are nice people, and they weren't trying to hurt my feelings; I tend to automatically hide such things so I'm 100% sure they didn't even realize it was bothering me)
Later, we were discussing music. I don't go in for being a "fan" of any band/singer/whatever, and I rarely can put a name or singer to a song. Also, I like country music and got made fun of for that by my classmates in middle school so for years I've just shrugged and said, "yeah, whatever" when asked what kind of music I like. My friends at home now like country too (some country, some of it is complete crap! and we also like other things!) so this was the first time I made up my mind to be honest when asked what kind of music I like. Rock and country, and some other random stuff. They skipped right over "rock and other stuff" and went straight for: "You like country? You need to leave now."
A joke of course, but one that I could have done without. They finally concluded by informing me that its OK that I like country, since I'm from Iowa, but I should do so quietly where nobody else can hear.
Now I realize that the fact that I'm upset now is mostly my fault for not stepping up and saying, "hey, you're over the line some, my hometown is a great place exactly because it isn't a big city, and I have the right to like whatever music I like - its not like I'm forcing you to listen to it." I'm just afraid that now I've opened myself up for another three months of sniping at the small-town girl who likes country music...
Any thoughts on the best way to make it known that they need to back off some, without either getting defensive or just sounding whiny?
Oh yes, and a knitting related topic: I mentioned that I knit (which my American friends all know, but the girl I met tonight and her friend, who joined us, were unaware of) and the Australians both exclamed, "You knit? People still do that? Like, this century!?"
Fortunately Mike jumped in and said, "yeah, its really popular in the states, tons of people do it!"
But this explains why I haven't found a LYS.
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Old 03-21-2008, 01:42 PM   #2
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I'm not sure I understand why you are so upset. Are you upset about the stereotype associated with small-town living?

I grew up in a tiny, tiny town. We had one traffic light. I didn't drive on a four-lane road until I was 16. My town is known for its annual Chitlin Jamboree. If you don't know what chitlins are, they are pig intestines. People cook them and eat them...even having a contest. You can smell them cooking all over town.

That said, I can totally identify with what you are saying, but I will tell you that I've never been offended when someone made fun of me. Sure, I'm from Hicktown, U.S.A., and sure, I like country music. But who cares? To each his own.

Please don't let this issue drive a wedge between new-found friends.

Laugh when they tease you. Truly laugh...not just on the outside. I'm sure you had a great time growing up. You probably had advantages that they did not have. Did you ever ride a go-cart down an unpaved, dirt road? I sure did, and I had a GREAT time! They are teasing you because they don't understand it.

And, as far as your knitting goes, who cares??? I think we worry way too much about what people think. Again, to each his own.

Now, go on holiday and have a GREAT time!!!
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Old 03-21-2008, 02:21 PM   #3
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Wow! You are in Australia!! That is awesome!!

I agree with Nathalie - have a good time, don't let it bother you. And, just to let you know I sympathize, I'm writing to you from Eclectic, Alabama - doesn't get much more small-town than that! Oh, and my favorite question from outsiders is if we have running water and indoor toilets!
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Old 03-21-2008, 02:27 PM   #4
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I agree just enjoy yourself in Australia!!

I'm from WV...when you drive through my hometown if you blink you miss us...very small...no stop lights...no 4 lanes...really nothing for about 30 or 40 minutes away...just small town grocery store...so I'm use to hearing the jokes or is your mom and dad related? Love that one...have heard the running water one a time or two...or shocked cause we have tv...I'm also asked to repeat words cause they find them amusing...just let it roll off your back and once they see it is nothing to you...and your proud of where you come from...they will prolly stop on their own...
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Old 03-22-2008, 08:47 AM   #5
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lol, don't worry its not that big a deal - just after 4 hours of (literally the words of Emily) "Seeing how many Iowa jokes I can make tonight," my patience with people who are simply ignorant about an area of the world they've never visited gets to be about nil. I can make fun of where I'm from, in fact when people ask about Iowa I usually tell them the story about my class trip to Washington DC, where we were asked what was in Iowa. Surprised to be asked, my classmates and I informed the group leader, "Corn." When asked what else was in Iowa (several times) we proceded with "Soybeans, hogs, some cattle, watermelons," and then ran out of major agricultural products, at which point we were shocked to learn that they wanted to know more, like perhaps something non-agricultural.
What bothers me is that they don't stop to consider the fact that my hometown is NOT THAT SMALL! Sure, we're surrounded by cornfields instead of running border-to-border with the next city over, but the town is a respectable size at 35,000 residents last I checked. If you're going to make jokes about the size of a town, I lived in Thorne Bay, Alaska over the summer, where the population is 1000, the biggest city on the island has a pop. of 2000, and across the straights is Meyers Chuck, a booming metropolis with a permanent resident population of 7. Because of Meyers Chuck, I am currently in the lead of the competition I've had going with one of my friends from home, to see who can find the smallest town.
Anyway, its not that they were making fun of my town, its that they just kept going, and going, and going... and not a nice banter about how everyone's towns have their own quirks, it was just snipe the Iowan night.
Oh, and the "are your mom and dad related?" question: I'm fifth generation in my town on both sides of the family (except my one grandma was actually born in a tiny town nearby, but basically the same place) and almost my entire family out to second cousins lives within the state. So I'm happy to point out that I can't date any of the guys who were born in my hometown because I'm probably related to them.
Thanks everybody!
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Old 03-22-2008, 09:18 AM   #6
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I really wouldn't worry too much about it!
You are a girl from Iowa living in Australia!!! How cool is that?!?! I wish I was in your shoes.
But I can totally understand what you are saying! Right after high school I joined a traveling retreat ministry team that is based in Washington state. Everyone but myself was from the Pacific Northwest. When people heard I was for VA they were blown away. They kept asking me to say certain things to hear my accent (which by the way I really don't sound very southern both my parents are from Ohio). I honestly think it took a week or so for some people to decide I wasn't some hillbilly from the sticks. I dealt with a lot of good natured ribbing. Once everyone really got to know me the teasing stopped.

I agree with the other posters if it really bothers you say something and if it doesn't find something little to tease them about.
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Old 03-21-2008, 02:25 PM   #7
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There's always something that people tend to tease about no matter you're from. I'm from southern California so you think because I'm form a popular, largely populated area that I don't get teased? Not so.. We get teased and questioned just like you. "Yes, my boobs are real, no, I don't have fake nails, no I'm not tan all over, no my hair is natural, etc, etc..

Certain places have stereotypes, small towns, living in Arkansas, etc. I'd suggest just answering the questions and letting it go. They may be curious about it as much as teasing you. Maybe you can find something simple to tease them about. Enjoy your time there!
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:20 PM   #8
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Don't feel so bad. When I studied in Japan, all people knew about chicago was Al Capone, Michael Jordan and pizza. To hell with them and the joking... if its bothering you to the point where you may not want to go on holiday with them, then tell them the small town jokes are insulting and you've had enough tyvm, lets find something else to discuss?

YOU ARE IN AUSTRALIA! Enjoy it.
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