Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reverse Acculturation--Czech-American Style

Hi Everyone,
I’ve written about my process of acculturation to Czech culture and society in past posts. Today, I would like to tell you about reverse acculturation—Czech-American style. When two people, from different cultures and countries, marry, they should expect changes to happen to them both. There are the normal changes that every couple goes through, such as which way should toilet paper roll hang, or which end of the tooth paste to squeeze, etc. However, in a cross-cultural marriage, a couple will also begin to adapt to one another’s cultures, and become a more blended couple in the process. This summer, one very obvious issue showed how much reverse acculturation has taken place in my marriage with Jiří.

In anticipation of holding a birthday party (mine), we were wondering how to store all the necessary foods and drinks, and how to keep it all cool when the temperatures were in the upper 20s and 30s C (70s and 80s F). I had the bright idea of buying a small college-sized fridge to help to keep bottles of wine, champagne, water, beer, etc. chilled. A college-sized fridge can hold many bottles, if you pack it correctly. After presenting the idea to my husband, we ended up on a shopping trip to a couple of electronics shops.

We began looking over the small refrigerators, and there were a couple that would have been adequate to meet the needs of the birthday party. These fridges would have also worked nicely when we have company at other times. However, Jiří decided they were too small, and they were not energy efficient. He began to look at the larger refrigerators that also had freezer compartments. I was not happy about this. Jiří’s reasoning was that one of these days we will move, and we’ll need our own fridge. Our current fridge comes with the flat we rent. OK, so if we need to buy our own fridge anyway, why not make it a bigger one that we can actually use to store things. In other words, buy a regular-sized fridge, rather than a college-sized one. So far, I was OK with his reasoning…well, kind of, but I was at least willing to go along with him, that is, until we got to looking at huge refrigerators.

Our European-sized fridge.

First, we looked at the normal-sized refrigerators. Normal-sized, by European standards, is small than what we have in the U.S. However, the normal-sized European fridge is not small, and can hold a lot of food in the fridge and freezer. We found a couple of normal-sized fridges that were nice, and then Jiří’s eye was caught by something bigger.

The something bigger turned out to be a fridge literally called the American Refrigerator. And is just like the ones I’ve had in the past, and that my parents currently have. An American-sized fridge is about twice the size of a normal European fridge. The American fridge, here, is the typical side-by-side fridge/freezer combination. The first one my husband looked at had an ice and water dispenser. However, when I pointed out our currently plumbing would not work with that particular fridge, Jiří relented. Then he went on to another fridge that was very similar, but without the water and ice dispenser. He decided this was the fridge he was going to buy. I looked at the price and said, “No!”

Our American-sized fridge.

As is normal in any relationship, be it work, friend or marriage, a disagreement ensued. We left the store for further discussion…the discussion actually lasted several days. I told my husband I do not expect to have such things here, in the Czech Republic. If I did, then I would definitely demand a car and clothes dryer. We have neither, and I’m very happy without those things here. A European-sized fridge was best, I thought, because if we move, chances are the new flat would not have room for a refrigerator the size of the American side-by-side Jiří wanted. A normal-sized fridge would be more easily accommodated in a new flat, and it would be easier to move than a huge fridge. Ach jo. We had several discussions, and finally I lost. Now we have a huge behemoth American-sized side-by-side fridge in our kitchen. I have to say, it is a very nice fridge, and I’m happy with it. But I definitely didn’t want one so big here. It really doesn’t make sense.

In part, Jiří wanted this fridge for me—thinking this would show his care for me in buying me something more American. On the other hand, Jiří has also begun to enjoy some of amenities he enjoys when we visit family and friends back home. Now, I will definitely become concerned if Jiří wants to by a private plane like Dad’s. Then I will have to put my foot down!

This is just one humorous example of the reverse acculturation that takes place in a cross-cultural marriage. Sometimes these changes are easy, sometimes the changes and adaptations are very hard. Our relationship is a blend, but it is interesting to see how Jiří’s being affected by my American influence in his life…hopefully for the good, though I did lose the fridge discussion…I would have been happy with a European normal-sized fridge.

Have a great day!

God bless,

Photos by Sher Vacik

© 2011 by Sher Vacik. All rights reserved. 


Ivanhoe said...

Ach jo indeed :) I totally get how uneccessary a big fridge like that is in Czech. But you may win the next one :)

Sher said...

@Ivanhoe: Thank you for understanding! :D One day when we end up moving (not any time soon) it will be a project to move just that big fridge! That endeavor may rank up there with the building of the pyramids! :)

Have a great day,
Sher :0) said...

Hi Sher,

I think it is hilarious that you are now complaining about Jiří wanting something American. You've come a long way towards being Europeanised in these past nearly five years of living here!

Sher said...

@chaplain: Yes, it is a definite turn that I had not expected--that Jiri would develop some American tastes! :0) I'm hoping he doesn't want to buy a private plane...really...he also loves flying like that. I will have to put my foot down for sure on that one!

Thank you for your encouragement that I'm changing and growing. More than even becoming Europeanised, I would hope that I'm working toward being more globalized. I have a ways to go, but it is a work in progress:0)

Have a great day,
Sher :0)