Photo by Ashour Rehana

One dreary autumn day in 1996 I, and the dozen others in my exchange student cohort, began the first day at our host school. The entire art school was abuzz working on projects for the all-school show. The theme: Banalität. Banality.

Commonplace. Predictable. Obvious.

In the screen printing studio, a team was working on the poster announcing the show. Other than the theme of the show and dates the only other element was a yellow banana. I still remember the professor demonstrating how to get the perfect white-to-blue gradient with just ink and skillfully manipulated squeegee. On every wall throughout the building, a work was celebrating some under-appreciated aspect of everyday life. Eventually Jon, Scott, and I got into the action with photography exhibit in the cafe. Of the cafe.



Banalität gave me a means of processing my culture shock. A way I could call attention to things I couldn’t yet take for granted and permission to look at them differently.


My oldest is a year older today. The past 8 years have shown me becoming a parent is much like moving to a foreign country. Communication is difficult for a long time, you need to re-learn how to get through the day, you need to be prepared for unexpected situations, you need support from someone experienced. Nothing can be taken for granted. Yes, everything improves with each successive day. No, you’re not the person you were when you started. Your eyes have adjusted. Take a moment, look around, be thankful for the slices of banality around you.