Cultural Profiling vs. Reality

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Before I moved to the US I heard a lot of people saying that I am different from what a 'typical Ukrainian' was in their head. I didn't mind - I never wanted to be a 'typical' anything, a strive everyone should reach for I believe. For me it means that I am somewhat different and different is good. What they wanted to say was 'Hey, you are open and friendly and you smile a lot. You also try to treat everyone like your friend and believe in equality of sexes'. A compliment only a few Ukrainians are willing to utter. Thank you all anyway.

My husband would always joke around when we met, saying that I am 'more American' than he is. It didn't bother me at all up until now(ish). I still get 'you are more American than I am (we are)' from people even though I physically am in the US. So what is the key behind this phrase?

I asked on facebook what do people mean by that? And here is what I got:

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blogger, ukraine, usa, living abroad, expat, expat blog, wordly, alisa kaiser
blogger, ukraine, usa, living abroad, expat, expat blog, wordly, alisa kaiser

blogger, ukraine, usa, living abroad, expat, expat blog, wordly, alisa kaiser

Let us dive into this. So basically, I am getting stereotyped. Not good. Yes, I like my Starbucks and no, I am not a BWG (do I really need to spell this one out for you? didn't think so). Yes, I don't like soup but it doesn't mean I don't take care of myself and my body (yes mom, I eat soup SOMETIMES). I watch US TV shows like it is my job (so? I've done it for years! Send me a link to a good TV show that is Ukrainian/Israeli/Canadian etc. and I will gladly watch it!). Yes, I make fun of hipsters (dude, I live in East Nashville, aka Hipster Paradise - how can I not?).

See what I mean? Something in my behavior pattern leads people to believe that if I have opinions/habits/favorites = that would be a definition of an American and not a Ukrainian. World, we need to talk.

My cultural background has nothing to do with this yet people are still holding on to it like it is their job. It is easier for most of us living in this universe to compartmentalize the information we receive through all of our receptors and that's ok when it comes to food. But people? Come on. Shoving people in the boxes is like a crime against humanity, isn't it? Alright, maybe not so dramatic. We all judge, I know. But can we really judge culture? And background? And people's stories?

So next time you say 'Oh, well yeah, he did this cause he is an Indian/Arab/Mexican' - stop. After all, we all are just walking bones and flesh and skin. This got dark way too fast. 

The wrong type of Christmas

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I feel like I have no "right" being excited about Christmas but I am and here is the terrifying truth: I am excited about the hallmark side of Christmas.

Alright, backtracking: I don't celebrate "the birth of Christ" per say  - more of a Hanukkah kind of girl if you know what I mean (duh, Alisa, even bears know what you mean! Shut up and move on). So! Yes! Christmas. Christmas in Ukraine is solely a religious thing - people go to church and all and I don't really notice it. It is a holiday, a.k.a day off, so I am thankful to stay home and binge watch Friends for the 100 time. But in the United States...Christmas is a thing. I mean, it is THE THING.  

1. People are nicer. To be fair - I live in the south, so "nice" is already a part of a body, and a vital one at that. But around Christmas time it is 10 times better and sweeter and I just want to run around and hug everyone! But I kinda wanna do that most days, but whatever, you know.
2. It doesn't have to be "winter" - everything is already a wonderland. MY GOD.  The lights!!! I swear, in my past life I was a light technician or something! Lights fascinate my inner everything. A little magic happens when you light them. The "Ahhh" moment. The illumination of the otherwise boring life. Magic in its smallest form. You got it.
3. The gift craze. Alright, I love giving gifts.  If i had a choice between eating my last dinner or spending money on something my friend really wants - I would eat. And then work an extra shift to get that gift. Cause, with all my love, food comes first. Every time you give me a gift without any holiday coming up - just because you are a nice person and just want to make me happy - I will freak out. I might not show it to you but trust me, the hurricane inside will be going strong. I immediately feel like I have to "pay you back" by getting you something in return, and I get anxious and all... I'm working on it, I swear I am working on being better at accepting gifts. But. On Christmas! On Christmas I can get 25 different presents an enjoy them like no other and not feel like I am going pass out from all the thoughts going through my mind.
4. The holiday music. Should I even? I'll be over here, rocking around my Christmas tree. 
All in all, I like things that an average American who grew up experiencing this year after year after year would not enjoy. And I don't dismiss the fact, that maybe in 20 years I will be sick of it too. But I am counting on exploring some other country in 20 years. 

Reading YouTubers

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I am fascinated by the people who are making money from social media. It all started with the one and only Jenna Marbles of the glorious YouTube. Back then, I was watching her videos just cause I thought they were hilarious (I sill do! Her old stuff though). The magnificent World Wide Web kept 'suggesting' channels to me and people to watch and I quickly got into a spider web of youtubery. It has become my own psych project: what does this person do in order to make 3 million people tick? I'm still working on it but my research did lead me to two books written by, surprise-surprise, YouTubers. 

I am not subscribed to Jennxpenn's (aka Jennifer McAlister) channel. I think she is a great girl but just not what I usually would spend 10 minutes of my life on. I picked her book because (judge all you want) the title was fitting and catchy. Here is why: I think youtubers are so used to coming up with the titles for their videos that when they release a book they follow the same pattern: simple words -> short -> can be read and understood by a 10 year old. But Jennifer here chose a different route. That is why her book "Really Professional Internet Person" caught my attention. 

The book itself was very simple (irony, am I right?). I did not care much about it until one turning chapter: SPOILERS AHEAD. The part of the book where she talks about being hacked did not only move me - it made me quite scared too. A teenager, going through the time where all her personal information is online: credit card info, address, passwords to all her accounts, and more. The chapter was such a breaking point both in a book and, from what it looks like, in her life. For the courage of the author and for the sake of the desire of going on, I would give this book a 3.7 out of 5. 

"A work in Progress" by Connor Franta was a very fast read. It was enjoyable, nevertheless. He got me on the second page where he talks about his parents who met doing Peace Corps. I mean, come on. HEART STRINGS PULLED OVER HERE. Unlike Jennxpenn, Franta took a very different approach to his book: he talked about feelings (mostly), omitting the full-on timeline of his success. I kind of liked it and was disappointed at the same time. Let me explain. Feelings are great. And it is fascinating to read about people who reached success at such an early age and now are milking it like it is their job (well, technically, it is. Ha). Where Jenn had step-by-step ladder of a story - Franta had a carousel of reactions. Both together would make a great book but I guess quality writing is a tad different from making a quality YouTube content. For the cuteness of Connor himself and the attempt at being raw, I give this book a 4.1 out of 5. 

I'm still watching youtubers as much as I can. I am still trying to figure out the algorithm. Jennxpenn's channel is pretty great - you should check it out! She actually loves the production, therefore her videos are very nicely edited. They are like an ice-cream for your eyes. Connor Franta is still my fav. His instagram will make you want to cry out of joy because you didn't even know that there is so much beauty in this word. 

So there you go. If you know a secret to a social media domination - please share. Although, I would understand if you would prefer keeping it to yourself.. But I have Ukrainian chocolate.. So think about it :) 

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