Gavin: A couple of ordinary, everyday experiences here shocked me a little bit. They poked at irrational cultural taboos that have been elevated to Laws in the U.S.
The first was visiting the elementary school, and being shocked by the number of kids who go to school barefoot.
I'd say maybe 20% of the kids wear sneakers, 50% flip-flops ("thongs"), and 30% go barefoot. I'm imagining the conversations with the bus driver, school teachers, and principal if we sent Robin and Will to school barefoot one bright, sunny day. I'm guessing they'd appeal to safety ("what if the poor dears STEP on something?") and, if we were insistent, would eventually appeal to some State health and safety regulation requiring Appropriate Footwear in all Educational Facilities.
Personally, I've already started to go native. Fight for Foot Freedom!
The other irrational cultural taboo that shocked me was the use of the "s-word" on TV here. The whole family was watching "Master Chef" (the Australian version of Top Chef; or is Top Chef the American version of Master Chef? anyways...), when Julie messed up her dish and exclaimed "oh shit." Apparently, TV stations don't have to bleep any words here.
Of all the words we have for excrement/feces/crap/poop, why is that one considered taboo in America? As the kids all say these days, WTF?