Monday, October 20, 2008

Am I Tall Enough?

I dreamed about Australia last night.

It was about migration and immigration.

One dream was about a school in Melbourne that accepted some American students.   There are all these qualifications you have to meet.   They prefer that the qualifications come from their list of prestigious American universities--Ivy League, I believe.    But if you didn't go to one of those universities, you still have a chance.  You have to write in and show that your school has been international enough.   You do this by proving that the school's cable TV has a certain amount of foreign language channels.   

 I forgot the exact numbers, but I think there needed to be at least two Jewish channels and at least two Chinese channels. Then there were other languages as well.

In the dream, I thought about how this is pretty foolish. You could go to a school with a wide variety of channels and never watch them.  Yet, someone else could go to a school with limited cable--no foreign language channels, and they might have a great interest in language and cultural variety.

I'm not sure what that dream was telling me.   It seems to be a warning against making judgements and assumptions.

The other day I had talked to Tim about the college I went to.  It was in Chattanooga Tennessee.   I think when most of people think of Tennessee they think of white--maybe a little black too.   They probably imagine a  homogeneous population compared to a place like NYC, Sydney, or Los Angeles.

But I talked about how there actually was a significant amount of people from different countries.   I knew people from Australia.   I knew people from the Middle Eastern countries.  I knew Asians and Indians. There were people from Africa--both black and white.

I'm sure other schools would have had more of an international population--much more mixed.  But I had interest in meeting/knowing people from different countries and I purposely sought them out.

Someone else could go to a school with a much wider variety of students, but stick close to their own ethnic group.  

In the other dream.... we're at a place waiting to be checked to see if we're qualified to immigrate to Australia.   Here it's not about your occupation, how much money you have, and/or whether you could pass a test about Australia.   It's all about height.  Australia wants tall people.   The number given is 66.  (I'm not sure what that meant.   I don't think it was inches.   I think it might have been 6 foot 6 inches)  Tim talks about starting a program to bring more Jews into the country.   I think about how this wouldn't work.    Jews would never be tall enough.   

It comes time for me to be checked and processed.    The woman working there says something like "Your skirt!"

I get nervous, thinking she was going to tell me it's not acceptable.   Instead, she says she likes it.   I feel relieved, but still nervous.   I step on the scale knowing I won't be tall enough, but still hoping they'd accept me anyway.   She tells me my measurement is sixty.   I know that can't be right and she quietly tells me that she lied a little for me.

I feel incredibly grateful but also uncomfortable.   Lying makes me very uncomfortable and I'm also afraid of getting caught.   Wouldn't someone else realize how short I am?

There was another dream that seemed interesting, but it didn't seem related to Australia--at least not directly.

There are these kids fooling around on a farm.   It's like they have trespassed, but at the same time they are trying to help out. (I don't quite understand it)  A goat drinks some kind of weird water.  The kids seem to try to prevent it, but are unable to.    The cow's milk has a weird blue tinge to it. And then later the cheese the farmers make from the milk has an ugly blue-gray color.   The kids get in trouble--scolded and accused.    But then the tone of the scene changes.   The farmers decide that instead of having the kids be annoying trespassers, they'll officially hire them as students to be trained on the farm.   There's forgiveness and everyone is happy.   


  1. Your one about the different cultures made me think of where I go to college now, it is a very diverse University.

  2. cherryblossom24,

    And you live in Texas, right? We have the reputation of being a bunch of cowboys. Well, especially where I live. But it's not really exactly like that.

  3. I used to live just up the road from you, Dina! Well, from where you lived. Relatively speaking. And probably at a different time to when you were at Chattanooga.

    I was an exchange student back in 90/91, and lived in Athens, TN, which is about an hour and a half or so north on I75.

    My TN was different to your TN. Not much in the way of international flavour in my neck of the woods. There were a couple of other exchange students at the high school, but they were short term, whereas I was there for a year. Otherwise, it was just the normal racial mix of whites and blacks, all thoroughly American. Being at a university would of course be a different experience.

    As for preconceptions, I did have them. I was going to live in the South, and given my only knowledge of the US and of the South in particular was based on popular media, I was expecting some level of racism. To my pleasant surprise, I didn't see any of that. Well, not at school or in the general community. The parents of my host father, who lived in Memphis, were of the opinion that intelligent blacks were the exception that proved the rule. Hearing that over the dinner table when we went over to visit came as rather a chock to my 15 years old mind raised in multicultural Melbourne. Being so young, a guest in their home, and shocked into disbelief, I did not voice my rather impolite thoughts on their comments in response. But as I wrote, that was the only racism I experienced in my time there, and I'm happy that my preconceptions were so resoundingly disproved.

    Viva internationalism!

  4. Stephen,

    We were neighbors!!

    In 90-91, I was in Nashville. High School. I had just moved from Atlanta Georgia.

    We moved to Atlanta from Missouri when I was about 12. I remember us being in complete shock about the move--believing we were moving to some backwards hillbilly land.

    Even now I have stereotypes of states I haven't really been to yet (besides driving through).

    Hell, we have stereotypes for the state we LIVE in. We did the early voting today and there's this sense that my husband and I have--We must be the only ones who are voting for Obama. When we see an Obama sticker or something like that,we're so pleasantly surprised. I guess because we live in a red state--so you start to feel everyone must be Republican. But it's not true.

    So, why out of all the states did you pick Tennessee?

    The international students at my college were there for various reasons. One of the Australians was on the Tennis team. I forgot why the other one was there. The Middle Eastern and Asian students were often in a graduate studies program.

    In terms of Chattanooga itself...outside the school, I'm guessing the make up was mostly white and black. I'm sure there was a few token others.

    Did you ever have a chance to visit other places in the States??

    Did you go for a full year? What was it like? Were you homesick?

  5. How about that!? Nashville is just up the street and round the corner.

    It was TN that chose me. Well, really it was the family who live in TN. I had originally hoped to go on exchange to Sweden, Norway or Denmark. but I was too young. Had to be at least 16 at the time one went, but I would only have been 15, and that was old enough to go to the States. And I was there for the full school year: 11 months, all up.

    Went to Memphis a couple of times, and since AR was just across the river we crossed over and then back so that I officially had been in Arkansas.

    Also went to Huntsville, Alabama for a week to attend Space Camp. Once in a lifetime opportunity, so when that opportunity did arise I took it. And that was so much fun. Spent the week learning about space and space travel, and training for various missions. Worked in Mission Control on the final, full day mission. The assessors decided to throw us a curve ball and one of the astronauts ended up dieing in space.

    As for being homesick, I was fine for the first five months, but when Xmas came round it hit me hard for a week or two, and then after that I was fine again.

    Been back a couple of times since and have traveled to GA, SC, OH, and passed through PA and NY on the way from OH to Niagara Falls.

    And I still wear my high school class ring as a memento of my time there.

  6. Stephen,

    So sweet that you still wear the ring.

    I still wear the ring I got from the Sydney Aquarium. But that's only been 9 months. Your story is much more impressive.

    Space Camp...Wow. Anytime I hear of that, I think of the movie where the kids actually end up going into space.

    Okay, when I first read that I thought you meant an astronaut really died? But now I'm thinking that was part of the simulation? Or did someone really die??????

    It sounds like you enjoyed your time. I can imagine Christmas being difficult. How about days that are important in Australia, but not recognized in the States? Were those days hard for you?

    I wonder why you had to be a certain age to go to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark...but not the United States.

  7. The 'death' was part of the simulation of the final mission: the astronaut bumped his head and got a chunk of lead embedded there. I think the trainers were not playing fair. Either he dies of lead poisoning if we leave the metal in his head or he hemorrhages to death if we pull it out. Maybe there was a solution, but Doogie Howser wasn't around that day to give it to us. What does a 16 year old know about emergency medicine, let alone emergency medicine in zero G? :^O

    (At least that's the official story NASA is going with... Just a simulation. If it ever gets out NASA handed control of one of their missions to a bunch of high school students... oy vay! But I think I may have said too much already.)

    Missing the National Holidays and other such events of Oz didn't bother me whilst over there. Though I'm proudly Australian, I've never been all that patriotic when it has come to the 'important days'. I just don't get what the big deal is about them.

    And I'm not sure about the age thing. I may have been told why it was so, but if I was I've long forgotten it.

    Two things happened with my language from my time in the US. One is that I now say G'day. Before I lived in the US, I hated the phrase. Kinda like a cultural cringe thing. And though I hardly used it whilst there, after I came back I started saying G'day, and it's now my standard greeting. The other thing is that, at times, I will say (all) ya'll. I'll still sometimes use the Australian youse, but sometimes it'll be ya'll. Of all the words and phrases that I picked up, that's the only one that's stuck.

  8. Stephen,

    Yeah, I think there really WAS a dead astronaut. The NASA people were totally lost on what to do so they said. "Let's ask the high school kids. Maybe there's a clever one in the bunch!"

    I'm not very patriotic either. I do wonder if I'd change if I was away from America. I wouldn't miss the 4th of July. I'm not big on fireworks. I might miss Thanksgiving which is weird because I don't even like turkey (not even before I became vegetarian).

    That's interesting about g'day. Did people in the states ask you to say it a lot or say it to you??

    When we were in Sydney, we never heard anyone say it. But we did hear it in Port Stephens. I don't think I ever heard anyone say "G'day mate." We did hear "mate" by itself--usually a parent talking to a child on the playground. "Be careful, mate" "Good job, mate." Stuff like that.

    So, do you walk around now saying "G'day Ya'all."

    It's funny how you pick up language. When we first moved to the south, I remember the weirdest shock was not "ya'all" but "Hey." They say that instead of "Hi" or "Hello." Well, you probably know that already.

    I think we eventually picked it up a little. I might still say it today...maybe? I'm not sure. Yeah. I think I might say stuff like "Hey! What's up?"

    Now it seems normal, but when we first heard it, it sounded very strange.

  9. I do live in Texas, Austin is very different from the rest of Texas.

  10. cherryblossom24,

    We went to Austin once. I liked it. I wouldn't mind living there.

  11. I've not gone quite so far as to say "G'day y'all!" At least I don't think I have. Most of the time I'm not aware of which plural pronoun I use, but I will occasionally register a second or two later What I just said and be a little surprised that a y'all was used all these years later. A nice surprise, though.

    I don't remember 'Hey' being used when I was in TN, but that's probably because it's a greeting that would not be unusual for me to hear in Oz.

    I like watching foreign language films, and I've discovered that 'Hey' and 'Hello' are used in Scandinavian countries much like ciao - as a greeting and a farewell. At first it was really strange hearing it used as a farewell, but I've now seen enough Scandinavian film and tv that, though I still notice it, it doesn't at all sound odd.

  12. Stephen,

    I never knew that about Scandinavian countries.

    Also, didn't know Australians say "Hey."

  13. It's not common, but then it's also not uncommon.

  14. And I'm from the Rio Grande Valley, which is technically part of Mexico anyway. (yeeeeeeee-haw!)

    Interesting how you say that Jews will never be tall enough. My dad's family are all very short.

    Have you done a post on the White Australia policy yet?

  15. Tors,

    I haven't done one specifically on the White Australia Policy yet. I've run into it though while doing the biographical research.

    I'm not sure if Jews are statistically shorter? Maybe.