Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Culture Shock

by Jennifer AlLee

I recently was one of several hosts to a visitor from Austria. Nina Horvath is the 2015 TAFF (Trans Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate. For those who don't know (like me, two years ago) TAFF was set up to fund the visit of someone involved in sci-fi fandom from one side of the Atlantic to the other. It alternates, so this was the year for someone from the other side of the pond to come to North America.

The Cupcake ATM -
I know they don't have those
in Austria!
As you would expect, there's a difference between living here and living there. What surprised me was how some of the most mundane things (to me) were amazing to Nina. Spray oil, for one. We were talking in the kitchen, and she noticed the collection of oils by the stove. Then she pointed, eyes wide, and said, "Is that oil in a can?" Apparently, they don't spray their oil in Austria.

Taking her to her first Vegas buffet was also fun. I quickly learned that she went straight to the seafood. She called it "luxury" because it's outrageously expensive in landlocked Austria. She also learned that while a food may look like something familiar (a rice filled sweet pepper) it can actually be something quite different (a roasted, and very hot, whole jalapeno pepper). We had a good laugh about that after the coughing and water slurping was over.

One of the things we love to do for for friends is barbecue, and now that we have a simple mister system on our patio, the summer heat is bearable. But Nina took one look at it and said, in a very good-natured way, "What a waste of water." I suppose she's right. In our defense, we have desert landscaping, so really, we use less water with the mister than we would if we were soaking plants.

It was fun taking Nina around and showing her some of the over-the-top bits of Vegas. Her expression upon walking into her first casino was priceless. But I discovered that one thing is universal, no matter where you live: cats. If a person loves cats in one country, they take that with them. One of her favorite things was a magic show which featured - you guessed it - big cats. She left us on Tuesday, and the first picture posted of her next stop in Canada was with the host's cat. I guess home is where the kitty is.

JENNIFER ALLEE was born in Hollywood, California, and spent her first ten years living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever happens to be playing on the car radio. Although she’s thrilled to be living out her lifelong dream of being a novelist, she considers raising her son to be her greatest creative accomplishment. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Christian Authors Network. Her novels include The Pastor’s WifeThe Mother Road, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas, Last Family Standing, and Vinnie's Diner from Abingdon Press; Diamond in the Rough, Vanishing Act, and Curtain Call from Whitaker House and co-written with Lisa Karon Richardson; the novella Comfort and Joy in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories from Barbour; and A Worthy Suitor from Harlequin's Heartsong Presents.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! It's always good to get a different point of view. I think if you can stay with a host family and do "regular" things for that location you learn a lot more about the country and the culture.


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