14 Dec You know you live in Australia when:
No BS just true stories!
Australia … This island continent which is a dream for so many foreigners for amongst other things, its paradise beaches, weather and professional opportunities.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love this country and especially Brisbane. I am often asked how life is in Australia and if some of the clichés such as the size of spiders for example are true … After three years in Brisbane, here is a non-exhaustive list of the reality of everyday life in Australia.
You know that you live in Australia when:
- You do not understand the simple question “how are you?” Because in Australia it is “How ya going mate?” With a strong accent. It takes practice to understand the Australian accent.
- You can leave your purse open on a terrace’s chair for instance and go to the bathroom without anyone stealing anything from you.
- You sleep with an eye mask at night because there are no shutters on the windows and it is dawn at 4:30am during summer in Queensland.
- The sale assistant at the Supermarket asks you “how you are doing?”, and you start chatting with her as if you’ve known her forever. In Queensland, wherever you go, the conversation starts very often with “how are you mate? or “how are you love / darling?”. It’s very common that people call you “Honey”, “Babe” or “Darling” even if they do not know you.
- You use the word “mate” to talk to a man that you do not know. This is true for men in particular.
- You begin to use some English words when you speak your mother language. I think it is the case for a lot of expats who live in an English-speaking country.
- You’re a smoker, and you have to pay $30 for a pack of cigarettes. In Australia, it is forbidden to smoke in public areas, and even in bars with an open terrace for instance (with some rare exceptions). They are very strict on the subject. Very few Australians smoke unlike with French people.
- You drive on the left, and the car is not an European brand. Let me explain … In Australia as in England, they drive on the left. European-branded cars keep the same standards for the location of indicators and windscreen wipers. On an Australian car, it’s the opposite obviously. So I can tell you that the first time I drove an Australian car it was … Epic. I was so surprised when I wanted to use the indicators in a roundabout and instead the windscreen wipers started moving.
- As a woman, you can dress sexily and be super feminine without anyone judging or insulting you. I have never been so feminine in my life. It’s only since I have been living in Brisbane. High heels and miniskirts are standards here.
- You go out for dinner at 8:30 pm on a Saturday night and the waiter tells you that the kitchen will close soon. In Australia, even in the big cities, restaurants’ kitchens often close at 21:30. As a French girl, I used to eat late in the weekend, I had to change my habits.
- You discover that you can buy some French cheeses at Woolworth at affordable prices. #expatlife
- You discover that there are only three supermarket chains.
- You live through opposite seasons to the rest of the world (or almost, there are not many countries in the southern hemisphere).
- You celebrate Christmas in shorts and T-shirt on the beach.
- You are too impatient to go to Sydney to discover the most famous beach… Bondi Beach.
- You open Facebook and you see that there were eight shark attacks in a month.
- You see a Koala and a Kangaroo for the first time.
- You are frustrated on the motorway because the speed limit is 110 km/h.
- You get your first $90 fine for forgetting to pay for the parking. I did not expect that to be honest, I thought I would be fined $20 like in France.
- You do not sleep with the windows opened at night anymore because you do not know what animal you will find in your room the next morning.
- You discover that 60% of Australians have never seen snow.
- You see Australians drinking champagne with orange juice. Yes I know … Sacrilege.
- You add ice cubes to your glass of white wine while you are in France, and your mum looks at you as if you had committed a crime.
- You use sunscreen index 50 and you still cook at the beach. In Australia, you cannot afford to be in the sun without sunscreen. It happened to me to cook in 20 minutes only before.
- You discover that the bbq is the typical Australian way of cooking.
- Internet and phone plans are twice as expensive as in France for a lower quality.
- You do not find your favorite clothes shops like Etam, Promod, or Andre for shoes, and they do not deliver in Australia because it is too far.
- You discover that surfing is a like a religion.
- Children (especially in northern Australia) are taught how to defend themselves against crocodiles.
Let me tell you a true story. It was last year a six-year-old northern territory girl was attacked by a crocodile, but she had the reflex to apply what she had learned at school a few days before. She put her fingers in its nose and press as hard as she could. This technique saved her life.
- You spend 24 hours on the plane to fly back to France. That’s when you realise that Australia is really isolated from the rest of the world.
I kept the best one for the end… I know that it is the biggest cliché about Australia, but I have to say that is true!
- You find yourself face to face with a monstrous spider while you are alone at home. What a story! I remember it like it was yesterday … It was at night time, I was alone at home, and I was on the phone with one of my best friends, I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water… and then disaster struck. I saw a huge black spider, but when I tell you huge it was the biggest I had ever seen in my life … Obviously I’m arachnophobe, otherwise it wouldn’t be as funny a story. I panicked, I started screaming on the phone to my best friend, it scared the spider which went hiding underneath the fridge. I then realised that the worst thing is when you cannot see the spider anymore. Like a child, my first reflex was to call my mum (yes yes my mum lives in France, so she could not do much for me except to support me morally). I locked myself in my room, and the next morning I went to see the neighbours to ask them to take a look in the house because I was too afraid to do it. As you can imagine they did not find it. So I called one of my very good friends to spray insecticide around the fridge. I never saw the spider again.
This list is not perfect but it represents quite well what life is in Australia for an expat. Feel free to share your own experiences with me or if you have some more information to add to this list feel free to send me a message.