Hello, My name is V and I am suffering from bouts of culture shock. There are days that are fine. But, there are days when it is all too much and I find myself turning to the dark side. Please read my tale as a warning and a plea for help!………………..
It all began in late August this year….
Our adjustment to life on the other side of the globe has been pretty good. Easy even. Familiar food took a little searching out. Clothing in my size has to be made to order. Shoes have to be brought from the US. But pretty much everything else can be found with just a little searching out….Except TV shows. They require a little more work.
There are actually some ways to find familiar TV shows here. You can go down the street to the guy selling pirated copies off the back of his bike for a dollar a CD. Doing this means taking your chances with the quality of the copy and on a rainy cold night do you really want to go back down the street to argue with him that the CD he sold you was crap? Not to mention the legal issues and the language barrier. The second choice is to plan ahead and go across town to a real DVD store that sells movies and shows. But this involves knowing what you will want to watch on Friday when it is only Tuesday morning. It always seems if I want to watch a mystery on Friday I will have picked a comedy on Tuesday and be stuck.
I thought I had the system beat when I got a VPN. Theoretically you can get to any web site and get any video or show to watch, even Netflix! I hadn’t used the VPN to watch any streaming video but was looking forward to it when I had some free time.
So there I was, Friday night and Hubby was out of town, D was at a late night school event, and S2 and I were hanging out at home. S2 entrenched himself with online games and skyping with friends. I had run out of books to read and planned on getting to the library next week. It was the kind of night you want to just mindlessly turn on the TV and let a brainless show like ‘Property Virgins’ from HGTV, or ‘What not to Wear’ just wash over you and waste some of your time. The act of planning ahead or walking down to the guy on the street just wouldn’t fit the night. And besides, he doesn’t even have those kinds of shows.
I gleefully logged onto my computer and started up my VPN. I had previously signed up for HULU and had created a list of favorite shows that were now sitting there, just waiting for me to watch them. I chose Project Runway first. It had been one of my favorites in the US. Everything seemed fine until the video started to buffer. and buffer. and buffer. and buffer. Finally I got a message that the video I wanted to watch was not available. Project Runway is known to be fussy with how it releases video so I assumed that was the case. I moved on to ‘Raising Hope” but the same buffering issue happened. Ok, third time must be a charm. And to avoid any risk of me just picking losers I went to the favorites page and picked a random show. Anything would be better than old chinese soap operas. But the shows still refused to buffer. Then, the ugly truth dawned on me. Even with my VPN the internet is too slow here, making it impossible to stream any but the shortest clips of video. AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!
I went to Plan C:
We do actually have what is called satellite TV. This means we get six Chinese stations, six Japanese stations, one French, one German, CNN world, BBC world, and an asian news station in English. None of these satisfied my need for mindless TV. My last hope was HBO. But alas, it was a slasher film – definitely not my cup of tea. Then I discovered what the kids have probably known since the day we got here….we have Cartoon Network. And it’s even in English 🙂
I turned to the CN in hopes of an old bugs bunny or even a new Adventure Time. All I wanted was a half hour of jello brained TV. I got more than I bargained for. This night on CN featured a Barbie Princess special: Barbie’s Charm school. Barbie’s family is killed in a tragic accident when she is just a baby. She is taken in and loved and raised by a mother who has a biological daughter. As a teenager Barbie wins a scholarship to charm school where they are seeking the next true heir to the land of Gardenia. Spoiler Alert!! It turns out that Barbie is truly princess Sophia and the only true living heir to the land of Gardenia. Barbie and her friends have to battle an evil lady in waiting who is trying to position her daughter to become queen. In the end the truth is revealed and Barbie takes her rightful place as Queen.
And how do I know all this? I actually watched most of it! I can’t believe I did it. It was so poorly animated, such a weak and predictable plot. I am pleading a moment of weakness. Or perhaps more accurately a half hour of weakness. I swear I will never do it again!! lol.
So can I claim culture shock and the need to connect with America? Or is it plain and simple TV deprivation and now you all have seen the true, dark side of my brain – literally. In an attempt to redeem my good standing in your eyes I will tell you that as soon as I saw that Barbie was safely crowned Queen I turned the TV off and went outside for a walk 🙂
The next day we hit the DVD store and stocked up on several seasons of Dr. Who, White Collar, and Burn Notice as well as some classic movies like the original Willie Wonka, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I promise, if I feel overwhelmed by culture shock again I will not take refuge in Barbie cartoons. I will call on you, my dear friends, to keep me sane. You and Willie Wonka.
Epilogue: When I told D that I watched the Barbie show she guffawed so hard she fell off the couch! Then she said: finally the truth about Barbie has been revealed – That she had been traumatized by the accident that killed her family and became anorexic. Then to console herself she got a boob job (D’s words not mine).
Ahhhh, out of the mouths of babes.