I almost thought that Australia is the same with America. Almost. I was under the impression that Australia was just like the US, but warmer and with more kangaroos than San Diego, California. The two nations share so much similarities, both have gone under the (and maintain good relationships with) Great Britain, indulge in western fast-food, and are English speakers.
So it came as a shock when I got here and found out that Oz was nothing like my country. Everything is done differently. I’ve seen Kangaroo Jack and Wolf Creek and Crocodile Dundee and this land was a far cry from what pop culture fed me.
It wasn’t necessarily bad, but rather challenging. Australia is filled with great people, a friendly climate, and lots of beaches. Also, these weird changes that might take me a lifetime to adapt to.
If you were not from Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom, or certain parts of Africa and you drive a car to and from the work and/or school, the first few weeks of driving here is like learning to ride a bike again.
Australia, just like these countries, drive on the left hand side of the road. That means the driving wheel is on the right side of the car. And you need to keep left. It took me time to learn. And it gets tougher when there were like four of you in the same lane learning to drive this way for the first time.
Perhaps this is the part where I throw my hands up for the Aussies in admiration. They dry their clothes like how Mother Nature will do it: through the sheer power of the wind and the sun.
No. They don’t use windmills and solar cells to power their clothes dryers. But rather, they use this low-tech contraption called a hills hoist. It basically looks like a giant umbrella planted solidly on the ground with the canopy removed and the ribs protracted (yes, I have a great imagination). They hang the clothes to the ribs and let the wind and sun to the job. The hills hoist also rotate to follow the wind.
This method, I believe, is better since it doesn’t use so much electricity like we do back home. And takes advantage of the country’s rich sunshine.
If you grew up playing basketball, ice hockey, or like me, baseball, you may give up on hopes that you will ever play or watch those games again on big sporting events, because as far as Australia is concerned, those games do not exist (at least in the city I am in).
Here, cricket is the source of madness. It is very much like baseball, but with people paddling (not batting) the ball while the others try to catch it mid-air sans any pitcher gloves. I was getting the hang of it while watching. But I will never try to play it, not if I want to keep a pair of functioning phalanges.
Oreos were part of my child hood. You open a pack, dunk them in a glass of milk, consume, and forget about all the worries in the world because eating these biscuits was all that matters at the moment.
Here in Australia, I couldn’t find Oreos anymore (or probably I was just looking in the wrong place). But what I can see so many though, are Tim Tams. These ubiquitous chocolate biscuits filled with chocolate cream and wrapped with more chocolate might as well be the country’s national food if meat pies and Vegemite do not exist.
But to my surprise, Tim Tams are great. Especially if you bite the opposite ends and use what’s remaining as a straw to drink hot chocolate or coffee (or what they call as “Tim Tams slam”). It’s insanely addicting. Sorry, Oreos-dunked-in-milk, we were done.
I lived most of my life inland, so a sight of the beach made me hear angels sing. Here in Oz, everybody is within 30 minutes of a drive from beaches. Which is understandable, since most of the Aussies live in the coastal areas, as the Outback, or the middle area of the continent, is pretty much an uninhabitable desert. So if you like coastal living and the sight of the setting sun as waves gently kiss the shore, you will have fun here.
We might be notorious for our humongous fast food staples, but once you see the Aussies’ burgers, suddenly our burgers pale in comparison.
Introducing, the burger with the lot. This monstrosity looks like someone got tired of eating breakfast and lunch separately so he just packed everything between two buns and called it a meal. It contains burger patties, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic, cheese, barbecue sauce, damper rolls, parsley leaves, fried egg, pineapple rings, and beetroot. I am still at a collective loss over the last three ingredients but so far everything works as far as the taste concerned. They even included a side of salad because come on, the meal needed to be healthy.
Like our neighbor Canadians, we use the zigzag method, in which we hold the fork with our left hand and the knife with the right, cut the food, put down the knife near the top of the plate, and switch the fork to the right hand to pick up the food. Then we switch everything back to cut the food again. We really do not know why we waste so much energy with this method, but it’s been the way we do it.
Here, I admire the Australians’ commitment to their cutleries. There’s no putting down or switching of anything. Fork stays on the left, knife on the right. I’ve never felt being an outsider in any event than when I am eating steak with them.
America lives in a frantic mess of complaints, stress, disappointments, and more complaints. Perhaps, this was a product of a self-entitled culture. You see how I am complaining here the entire time?
Aussies, on the other hand, unbelievably knows how to chill.
They don’t put things inside little boxes of expectations and go on speech rage every time something goes wrong. At the very least, they do not expect things to happen urgently, or happen the way they want it to be. They can wait in queues for food, buses, ATM machines, or concerts without whining how long it has been taking. They never complained of being tired, or being bored, or being stressed. They just know that everything will work out in the end. I hope this won’t change. If anything, this kind of positivity is what the world needs.