G’day and thank you so much, Karen, for having me on your blog. I have wanted to come to America for quite some time, I just didn’t know my first trip overseas would be a ‘virtual’ one.
I have thought long and hard about the differences between Australians and Americans. There are the differences in language that we all know about. For example: you call a g-string, a thong, and we call flip-flops, thongs = hysterical confusion that we love to take advantage of.
You all know we love vegemite (well, most of us; my husband hates it and he is born and bred Aussie); that we play football with no padding; that we have a rather self-deprecating sense of humour and love to make fun of everyone, not least of all ourselves; that our country is vast with wide open spaces and a plethora of white sandy beaches; that we have dangerous animals, snakes and spiders; and that we have kangaroos hopping down our suburban streets. Actually, that last one isn’t strictly true; that only happens sometimes.
So I thought I would talk about the differences of which you may not be aware.
Wheelie bins. These are for what you call, trash. Each week we place the wheelie bins at the kerbside outside our homes and a truck comes along to empty them. Being the creative lot that we are, a few other uses have been developed over the years. Wheelie bins make excellent stumps for street cricket (please tell me you know what cricket is!!). Wheelie bins also occasionally get a bit of action as a mode of transport. Someone who has consumed too much alcohol will be cheerfully careened around the neighbourhood inside a wheelie bin by friends who have also consumed too much alcohol.
We call a kettle for boiling water for tea, a jug, and we also call the resulting drink from the jug, a cuppa and we have it at smoko, even if we don’t smoke.
I am proud to say Australia was the second country in which women won the right to vote and the first to have women stand for election.
There is a common myth that we have an accent. We don’t. The rest of the English speaking world does, though.
We once had a prime minister who held the Guinness Book of Records for drinking the most beer in 11 seconds. Charming.
We eat one of the animals, the kangaroo, that proudly sits as part of our Coat of Arms. The kangaroo was chosen because it cannot go backwards, and our slogan is Advance Australia. I have never tasted roo meat but it is readily available in the butchers or supermarket and is the meat of choice to give to our pet dogs. Do you guys eat the Bald Eagle? No, I didn’t think so. Even I think it’s a bit weird.
You say you are ‘going to the bathroom’, we say we are ‘off to the loo’.
When you buy food and take it back to your house, or it gets delivered, you say it’s ‘take out’, we call it ‘take away’.
We have stubbies of beer and you do not.
Christmas for us is full of swimming in the pool, playing backyard cricket, bbq’s and air conditioning. I would love to one day experience a white, snowy, cold Christmas but I love the heat at Christmas and it would feel strange without it, I suspect.
Our ancestors are convicts. Despite what I have read in doing some research for this post, we are not bothered by that at all. Seriously. We really don’t care. Mention it all you like, we simply won’t be offended. Interesting fact: Australia was founded by convicts; our homicide rate is 1.8. America was founded by mainly religious folk; homicide rate 6.3. So, I guess, we’re happy to have a convict heritage over a religious one.
So what do I love about this country of mine? Nearly everything. I love the people. We are open, friendly, funny and don’t take ourselves too seriously. I love the places. It’s only when I see footage of the ‘beaches’ in other parts of the world that I truly appreciate our white, sandy shores and rolling blue surf. Our rainforests are beautiful, our outback bush amazing.
I love our freedom; our political system, while not perfect by any means, does a pretty good job. While we do have people living below the poverty line, we don’t have slums, and our unemployment rate is only just over 5%. And everyone can get a fair go if they work hard enough.
I love Australia. I do have a desire to travel and see other cultures, places and ways of life but I suspect that nothing would quite measure up. Australia will always be my home.
So I will leave you with this:
Thanks for having me here, it’s been beaut. Right now I’m chucking a sickie and am off for the arvo. I’m going back o’bourke and taking some bikkies with me. Best use the dunny before I go. It’s been fair dinkum fun to be here; I’ve had a ridgy-didge good time. Well, I best shoot through before Karen spits the dummy. Catch ya later, cobber!
Susannah is an aspiring writer who currently owns and runs four community publications with her husband. When not working or writing, it is not uncommon for her children to find her singing and dancing in the kitchen, always off key and out of time. Spending time with family and friends and in the company of good wine makes her happiest. She also likes to look at life sideways and enjoys speculating on the ‘whys’ of how we behave as humans. You can join in the speculation by stopping by her blog at Personally Speaking or follow her writing journey at The Writerly Way. And if you do, don’t forget to say g’day.