There are a lot of things to be learned when moving overseas. The most interesting part for me is not that I learned a lot of things about Australia but more what I learned about myself. I'm not quite sure why I didn't expect this. On paper it makes total sense. You will take everything you know and pack it away in a box to keep in your attic. You think that when you get back it will be the same stuff that you left. And while it may be the same salad bowl, the way you look at it is somehow different. So weird and yet absolutely life-changing. I can't go back. The damage or progress, depending on how you look at it, is done.
I've never really spent much time in thought on the concept of normal. Everyone always tries so hard to fit in and be normal. But the minute you step out of your nationalistic culture bubble, your concept of "normal" changes. Those of us that grow up in Western culture have certain expectations of normal. For example, in America, we smile and say hello as a stranger enters an elevator. In fact, we think it's normal when you smile. In some cultures it is rude. Does that make it wrong? Nope. Just different. We have become used to the fact that the majority of Asians in our building never make eye contact and do not want to have a chit-chat with you. This was a hard fact to get over coming from our overly-jovial American society. Yet, we still usually try to say hello. They rarely have any response. Does this mean they are not friendly? Not at all. They just act differently in lifts.
Sydney is such an international city that we meet a wide range of cultures on a daily basis and the one thing it has taught me is that all people are human. We are all differently the same. Hopefully, it's given me a greater empathy towards people with ideals I don't fully understand. Instead of automatically fearing what you don't know, try to find the commonality you share.
I don't fear Muslims. I think the idea of coexisting in peace is coming to the reality that in order to live with other cultures you must accept that we may look at things differently. We may believe in different things but we need to strive to see how others may interpret things. It's not being politically correct, it's being humanly sensitive.
As a Christian, it all comes back to something that Jesus taught; do unto others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31). The Golden Rule. Guess what? This concept is spread across almost all religions. It traces its roots to Confucianism. Treat others like you wish to be treated. Reciprocity; it seems like such a simple concept. It is part of the reason I love Jesus and his teachings. You can't just pick and choose when you want to employ this concept. It must be in and of all things.
As far as being normal goes I think the key is to be yourself. Whatever that entails. As long as you can find a way to be comfortable in your own skin you are "normal" on any continent. Embrace it!
Okay, enough preaching. Time to get out and enjoy this 90 degree weather before we head back to the icebox that is North America! Here's a panoramic picture of the view from where we are staying to warm you up.