Destinations Magazine

Counting My Cultural Obsessions

By Russellvjward @russellvjward

It's 4am and I'm obsessively watching the live broadcast of the Sochi Winter Olympics, but it's not unusual for me to be following the luge or Super-G at this ungodly hour.
I rarely get to bed before midnight in my determined quest to catch Olympic sports on TV. A week ago, I tried - and failed - to get up for the opening ceremony and was relegated to watching the highlights later that day.
It just wasn't the same.
Living in Australia, we're blessed with so many things but live television programming scheduled at a reasonable time of day isn't one of them. So this is an annoying yet necessary ritual we're forced to adopt when living in this far-flung corner of the world.
It's not all bad though.
When we expats, travellers, nomads and cultural junkies move around the planet, we pick up any number of willing or reluctant habits, much like my middle-of-the-night television viewing. You take the rough with the smooth and it comes with the territory.
The good always outweighs the bad.
Whether these habits help us cope, make us fit in or bring extra joy to our day, it's fun to think about the kinds of things picked up along the way.
In eleven years of life "on the road", I've collected a few cultural obsessions along the way.

Counting My Cultural Obsessions

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons (ohdearbarb)

An addition to over-sized coffee
I'm not sure exactly where it started. Canada maybe? A lone Starbucks that sucked me in? Somewhere, somehow, I've developed a mammoth-size addiction to coffee. I have an unhealthy passion for the black liquid gold in Sydney and every morning, without fail, I'll purchase a large-size cup of triple-shot espresso coffee and fuel my body with an insane caffeine dose.
Love my hockey but doesn't everyone?
I grew up in a town famous for its ice hockey team and in a country that was still fairly new to the sport - I watched the game but didn't feel any sort of calling. After three years in the land of the hockey puck, the locals instilled in me a deep, inexplicable passion for the game. After eight years down under, the obsession still burns brightly, regardless of geographic or cultural distance.

Refusal to ditch the "cheers"
I'm almost certain that I never signed off an email with "cheers" until I left the UK. As if clutching on to any remaining evidence of my Britishness, I now sign each and every piece of correspondence with the word, assuming everyone will know me for who I was and still am. Call it a a tick or annoying habit, it refuses to go away.
Too snap happy by far
Living in the UK, I took my environment for granted. I didn't care much for photography because it seemed unnecessary and too much like hard work. Here in Sydney, it's become an obsessive part of my regular routine as I try to capture and share images from my backyard.
Kicking the travel habit

We all have it to some extent, don't we? Most of us yearn to travel, to set ourselves free. What was a healthy interest in traveling became a need to live abroad. Living in unfamiliar surrounds led to a greater desire to get out and explore. The travel bug kicked back in and now I want to go further and see more. I haven't traveled for almost six months and I'm getting restless. It's time to get on a plane again. Or pick up and move.
So what are your cultural obsessions or habits? What are some of the routines and rituals you've collected at home or away?
Talking of travel and cultural delights from around the world, the good people at NOVICA have kindly given me a $50 gift certificate to give to you.
NOVICA provides artisans from around the world a free online marketplace to sell their work and reach customers on a global scale at It may be a village of carvers in Bali or a family of ceramists in Brazil who have handed down their craft from generation to generation. Whatever or wherever the community, NOVICA connects artists who have been isolated for centuries by distance, time, and geography - isolated from the very community of collectors seeking their unique, inspired, and undiscovered arts and crafts.
In association with National Geographic, NOVICA are giving away a $50 gift certificate to be spent on any of the wonderful gifts available on their site. I picked up a lovely leather passport case from Indonesia-based artist David Geradts here. Now it's your turn. Leave a comment below to be automatically entered in the running for the $50 and I'll announce the winner in the next blog post.
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