Here’s my sweetness & light/warts & all run down of what I’ve learned about living down under over the last (almost) 6 months…
1. Driving is so appalling, even the Aussies admit it
The polite etiquette that we’re (on the whole) accustomed to on UK roads is a distant memory living in Australia. Changing lanes, giving way, and turning right are a battle, whilst manners are missing with undercutting, undertaking and no acknowledgement of courteous driving. We may live in the ‘20 minute city’, but those 20 minutes become pretty painful with the level of rudeness on the roads in Australia.
2. ‘Australian English’ is a pick and mix of British and American, which makes spelling and speaking a bit of a headf*ck
Program, not programme. Truck, not lorry. Eggplant, not aubergine. Bandaid, not plaster. And then they’ve invented a whole set of new words like a ‘doona’ instead of a duvet, ‘bogun’ rather than a chav and ‘esky’ for a cooler bag. Aussies may speak English, but not as we know it. Mind you, coming from Scotland where we speak so many variations of the language (with hundreds of dialects) I can’t really say much as people struggle to understand what the hell ‘ken yourself’ and ‘nae bad’ means.
3. The sun doesn’t shine all year round
This may sound like a bum deal, but I actually adore the four seasons that (South) Australia offers. Autumn may be in April, Summer may be in December, Winter may be in July and Spring may be in September, but that means we still get to walk in the golden, fallen leaves, drink red wine by the fire and lie under the cherry blossom trees. And for 4 months of the year it’s ‘taps aff’, and poolside living. The Mediterranean-like weather and bright blue skies most days of the year in Adelaide is one of the best things about living here. Adelaide may be a non-entity for most expats, but we don’t get the humidity of Brisbane, the rain of Melbourne or the mixed bag of Sydney so we’re winning weather-wise.
4. Work/life balance is a myth
The other week I clocked up close to 60 hours of work, and whilst that hopefully won’t be the norm, my colleagues across the organisation generally work an obscene number of hours Monday to Friday. Weekend working is rare for the average 9-5er though, and Friday afternoon it’s down tools and off to enjoy that outdoor lifestyle that’s so well-lived by Aussies.
5. Coffee is a religion…
…and quite rightly so. Not everywhere gets it right, but those that do knock it out of the park with their cups of the black stuff. Australia are the inventors of the flat white after all (though don’t tell New Zealand, who claim it was them…)
6. The word ‘outwith’ doesn’t exist here
7. Food tastes way better
Whether it’s the sunshine, the soil or the wine that’s drunk with it, cooking at home is way more tasty than in the UK on the whole. The carrots are crunchier, the strawberries are sweeter and the meat is mighty. Plus there’s the novelty of chargrilled everything, cooking on the barbie. NOM!
8. Single women are in abundance
I’ve met so many stunning, talented, inspirational women who are yet to find their lobster. Where the hell are all the single men deserved of these beautiful babes?
9. Racism is no more rife than in the UK
Australia is pigeon-holed as this obscenely racist country with Neanderthal bigots in abundance. There are most definitely pockets of society letting the side down, and there are serious government-driven issues for Aboriginal men, women and children which I’ve been horrified to learn about through cultural training at work. But on a recent trip back to the UK, when someone asked if there were half naked men running around the city whilst mimicking a (Native American) war sound, I was reminded that we’re no better. Three people said to me on the same trip ‘I’m not racist, but…’ and one taxi driver proceeded to share his views that ended in him telling me I got out while I could before ‘they’ take over ‘our country’.
It sickens me to think this is the way people think, like we’ve regressed back to before slavery was abolished. I’m fearful for the future, but will continue to educate myself in the hope of making a difference to the injustices going on here.
10. The healthy lifestyle is infectious
Back in Scotland I’d be that girl who takes a taxi half a mile to save walking. Sedentary was my middle name. So it’s no wonder my pals have rocked a mouth drop on Skype when I’ve shared my new cycle to work regime. That I’ve joined a gym, have a PT and enjoy nothing more than a sunset Sunday stroll. Who is this woman and what you have you done with our lovable wee slob? It’s the Adelaide effect, my friends. Ha, who am I kidding? I’m still a lazy sloth at heart, but one who now knows the feel good factor that comes from moving her toosh a few days a week.
11. Spiders exist, but you don’t generally see them
Sh*t, now that I’ve said that I bet one falls on my face in the middle of the night…
12. Banking and the internet are 5 years behind the UK
Snails pace speeds and infuriating backwards processes. Gah!
13. But what does it matter when the place you live is as stunning as this
Picture perfect, some may say. Rolling, luscious hills married with the sunniest of skies and the bluest of oceans. Adelaide wasn’t crowned the 5th most liveable city in the world for nothing, and I feel grateful to be able to call this home.