Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cultural Differences (Part Deux)

I have found it is the little things which are the most challenging to figure out! These are things I took for granted at home and are now daily frustrations! I will explain below:

My apartment was not furnished with a washer or dryer. I was extremely fortunate to find a guy from FedEx who was moving to Memphis and selling his washer/dryer combo. Getting the machine was the easy part...learning how to use it has been the challenging part! Not necessarily learning how to use the machine, but what all I need to use with it to make it work effectively, not ruin my clothes, and not cause some disastrous flood. Brussels has unusually hard water so I called upon Lindsay to assist on what to buy. Check out what all I need to do one load of laundry...

Low-phosphate detergent (not sure if mine is!!); anti-calcium agent; and fabric softener.

In addition to the items shown above, when there is a load of whites you have to use Blan to help keep the white clothes from turning gray!

And when there is a load of blacks you need a product especially for blacks to help keep it from fading!

Actually using the machine has been easy so far. I have never owned a combination washer/dryer unit, but I kinda like it. The wife of the guy I bought the machine from gave me a demonstration on how to use it (considering all the instructions on the unit are in French...see below). It is really put in the load of clothes, set it to the cycle you want it to wash, and if you want it to dry the clothes, set the timer and walk away! When it is done, it is transferring wet clothes to the dryer once they are washed! Not a bad deal!

I was living in my apartment for about 4 weeks before I was able to figure out how to operate the dishwasher. My apartment was completely renovated prior to me moving in so all appliances are new including the refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave, and dishwasher.

It did not take me too long to get the stove and microwave working. However, I was scared of the oven (mainly because it was in Celsius). I finally took my chances one day and figured the oven out. I was left with the dishwasher and needed some help after I had exhausted all resources of me reading the book and trying to get it to work. I called over the husband of a friend who checked it out and told me.....the water was not turned on to the dishwasher...MINOR DETAIL!! HA! Who knew!!?? I suppose since it was all new, and no one has used it before, the water was never turned on! Anyway, now it works and, of course, requires any things to keep it operating effectively.

First, there is the standard detergent; then a salt-based product which prevents a hard-water film from forming on dishes and glasses; then a liquid drying or anti-spotting agent (kind of like Jet Dry in the US). Once every few months you are suppose to use another product to remove mineral deposits from inside the machine. I hope I do not forget about this one!! See the products below that I have to use every time I start the dishwasher!

I will never take for granted the great water we have in Memphis again!

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