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Things Amy Likes

 It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here — Been extremely busy working and trying to reestablish myself in America, but all is well! By the way, I want to thank all who have posted comments here, and I think that I’ve finally approved them all for others to see. All input is welcome (except for spammy comments lol). 

The first time that I saw the Opera House & Harbour Bridge in Sydney

I kind of miss being in Australia — It’s a beautiful country. But it’s been better for me to be back in my hometown.

I’m no pro on all things Aussie, obviously, but I can tell you that I’d lived outside of America long enough to know more than the average American to say I know quite a bit about other cultures. Well, I know the Dutch and Australian culture better than most Americans, anyway. It’s interesting to talk to other Americans who’ve only travelled abroad, and with those who’ve only imagined traveling abroad. Just the other day, I spoke with a guy who wishes to visit Australia, and when I told him that I’d lived there, he was excited to know all about it (most Americans love the general idea of Australia), but there was also the twinkle of envy in his eyes (not a bad thing with Americans in this case because here we tend to be wowed rather than jealous of other people’s accomplishments) that I had in fact lived somewhere in Europe and Australia.

Anyway, I’m a very observant person who took in a lot while living abroad for 11 years, in both the Netherlands and Australia, so what I wanted to share here in this post here is what not only I’m glad I had experienced, but also why I’m so happy to be back in America — with a true appreciation of being in America again (most Americans don’t actually know what they’re appreciating living here… Kind of a spoiled ignorance, I guess you could say). Here are a few of those things that I’ll no longer take for granted.

• Smiling in public. Around strangers. I can do that here in America! Example: I went into a store called Fred Meyer, and this store even in itself is a whole interesting topic, but I’ll get to that later in this list! I went first to the pharmacy to ask a question, and I was pleasant and smiling while approaching. I got the friendliest service ever! If I did this in the Netherlands or even in Australia, most of the time in those countries, I’d often receive a mixed reaction from the one(s) serving me. Good customer service in America is a plus, but it’s even better when you walk in to a shop or the bank and have a friendly demeanor and don’t get treated like you’re a fruit cake because you’re smiling and friendly. Yes, there were some good experiences in the Netherlands and Australia — but rarely! I used to work in a customer service-orientated job in America before flying over to Holland. It was always wonderful when the customer had a friendly approach. It made the job so much nicer, and I keep that in mind. Bitter customers always made giving good customer service a downer. Here in America, I can walk up to a counter, smile, ask the clerk for what I need, and even carry on a conversation with them! In Holland and Australia, well… not really often was that so. It normally was short conversation with a twist of “wtf” glances. In the Netherlands & Australia, I quickly (instinctively) began to feel like it was best to not smile in public at all even, thinking people must think I’m crazy for doing it. True story! Glad to be able to just smile whenever I want again! Even this morning — I went outside and had a smile on my face thinking about something to myself, and a woman passing me smiled at me and said “good morning!” How great is that! 

• I’m from and live in Vancouver, Washington USA. Not Vancouver, Canada — I personally call that Cancouver, but what a very lovely city Cancouver is, so no disrespect — and Washington state, not D.C. That’s on the opposite side of America from my state. But most of those abroad who I’d met almost always had both Vancouver and Washington confused. No, understandably, I could never tell a foreigner abroad that I was from Vancouver, Washington without there being a look of utter confusion on their face. They’d pause, then they’d ask, “So you’re Canadian or American?! Or both?!” Haha! I can say to someone here that I’m from Vancouver, Washington and even if they don’t know of the place, they know Washington state (think Seattle, folks), and I don’t get a blank stare. But yeah, who in America knows of Avalon in New South Wales? They most likely don’t even know that there is a state in Australia called New South Wales. In their minds anyway, geography-wise, Melbourne is just around the corner from Sydney. 

When I first arrived in Australia, Cyclone Yasi struck and ravished Queensland (mostly), up in the general area near Brisbane. I lived in a suburb of Sydney — way far away from Brisbane. Friends in America wrote to me on Facebook to “be safe.” Very considerate of them! But all I had to worry about from the affects of Cyclone Yasi in Sydney really were a bit more extreme weather and memorably the extreme price to pay for bananas, since the crops in Australia had been destroyed by the cyclone. 

The moral of the story: I learned living abroad that not only do some Americans have a lack of knowledge about geography, but so do most others around the world. Yeah, yeah. You might know your geography, but I tell you 90% of the people who I’d met did not. Sometimes, like some Americans don’t know their own country very well geographically, I’d meet people who didn’t even know own country as well either. But really, there have to be few worldwide who know exactly where Portland, Oregon is anyway (FYI: Vancouver, Washington is immediately north of it)… I started to tell people abroad instead that I was from “near Portland, Oregon in America, on the west coast, between Vancouver, BC and San Francisco.” Then and only then would they understand where I was from, when I’d simplify it like that. And if they’d ever been to Portland, their eyes would light up and they’d get where I was from — and why my American nature/culture differed from someone who was from say New York City, Miami or Houston.  

    • On that note — Dear folks abroad (the ones who I address are those who generalize an American), our culture in America differs greatly everywhere you go! We are not all carbon copies of the “typical American” everywhere you go here. There’s a drastic cultural difference (and not a bad one!) between someone from Minneapolis and someone from New Orleans. Keep that in mind, folks abroad. We’re not all like the loud & spoiled tourists that you meet in your countries. 

    • I’ll never have to “defend” America again. Hold your horses, before you fellow Americans get all riled up! You see, while living abroad, I found myself actually being an ambassador (of good!) for Americans while living abroad. In some cases, I was the only American who most people had ever met face-to-face. Not that I ever felt that I had to defend the good ol’ USA (because I learned while living in Holland to hear other people’s opinions without getting all riled up). But, wow, there were times that I had to. And thankfully (I hope that) I did a good job. What some Americans are not aware of is the fact, for example, that whenever America sends troops abroad to “defend” (aka fight), both the Netherlands and Australia usually send their troops over for us as well. So naturally (and understandably!) most Dutch and Aussies who I had encountered would speak of it, and mostly in disgust. This would likely piss off an American to hear what these folks had to therefore say about us, but I’d always diplomatically respond by saying (if they ever aimed their anger about it towards me, the token American), “Hey, I hear you! But listen, the President doesn’t call me up at 3am in a panic, asking, ‘Amy! What should I do?! Oh my goodness, I don’t want to make Australians/the Dutch mad at us!'” Haha! Feel free to express yourselves, yes, but don’t carry on & on at an American living abroad (if you want to be friends) about things like that. Yeah, we vote, but never once has a politician walked up to me and said, “Gee, if I win, what shall I do?” Issues like that roll off of me now like water off of a duck’s back, but I don’t know how many times I had to listen to the drivel of “Oh, your president is a _______ because he did this/that, and so now we have to help.” I’d just roll my eyes. Inside. You know, out of respect. I have no control over what he or any other American politician decides. I’d say, “Hey, how about this! If you’re concerned about an American political issue that affects you, write to the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20500, United States. K, thanks.”

    • Shopping! Well, Australia is Americanized (to some Aussies’ dismay), so it wasn’t so hard for me. But overall, combining experience living in the Netherlands (7 years) + Australia (4 years), I missed shopping in America. I shop often here at a store called Fred Meyer. You can shop from 7am-11pm, 7 days a week, except for Christmas Day. A large selection of everything you need inside — Nearly everything! And an extra large parking lot with free parking (and plenty of it!). You grab a shopping cart (so nice to not have to call it a “trolley” anymore, but the word still slips out from time-to-time), and they’ve got a full supermarket, clothing store for all ages & sizes (yes, even plus size, petite & tall), shoes, electronics, home improvement, automotive, extensive selection of haberdashery, pharmacy, complete garden center, stationery, furniture, kitchen and outdoor living, seasonal, health and beauty, toys, fine jewelry, liquor, bakery, bicycles, fishing and other outdoor sporting goods/sports equipment, etc… Kind of like a Walmart, but much better quality products without (likely) those Walmartian-types. At Fred Meyer, you pay for everything at one register. One-stop shopping. Does Australia have this? No. They have shopping centers with Woolworths (“Woolie’s”) and Big W, and butcher, bakery, clothing, shoes, etc., but you’ve got to go into each store individually & pay individually. Same in the Netherlands. It might sound sad, but honestly I missed this Fred Meyer-thing. It’s not that big of a deal, but I’m not one of those types who likes to spend my time off from work shopping. So I can be found inside of a Fred Meyer every week. I love it. 

    Eichholtz in Amsterdam

      • Finding little things at the store, like baking soda! Seriously. They sell it at the supermarket in Australia, but in Holland — no. There, you’ll find it at the Indonesian markets, called a “toko.” And it’s not as cheap there. In the Netherlands, I’d go all of the way (an hour-and-a-half train ride for me there) into Amsterdam to a place called Eichholtz to buy American junk food, and things like breakfast cereals, Crisco or pancake syrup. I’d pay $11 for a bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup. It was rare to find otherwise, and oddly enough it was worth the $11.

      Eating a Snickers bar with knife and fork

       • I learned better etiquette. Example: Americans typically (typical Americans, not the hoity-toity-types) only eat their breakfast/lunch/dinner with a fork. No using the fork and knife together. You know, fork in left hand and knife in right hand. They get a knife with their dinner setting, unless also a steak knife, but they’ll usually only use the knife that comes with the setting to spread butter on bread. Just notice this the next time you eat at a typical restaurant, like the Cheesecake Factory or Applebee’s, in America. Typically, they’ll only use their fork. I hope you understand what I’m talking about. If you do and you come to notice it eventually, you’ll laugh. Some even use the edge of the eating-end of the fork to cut their food. I notice it all of the time, and it makes me chuckle whenever I see it. I use a knife and fork now; my mom doesn’t. 

      Here at this link is Jaime Oliver asking a school’s cafeteria staff in America to set out knives for the children to use with their lunches — comical! It’s almost as if they’re afraid that the children might use the knives to hurt each other. Well, the fork can do just as much damage, if not more. And some of the food that they serve.

      • Being back in my hometown, I know where I’m going. Some things have changed a bit. Steakburger is gone, with its miniature golf coarse. Dang it! And Golden Skate, my childhood favorite roller skating rink. New developments have gone up around the edges of town (dramatically!), but everything else remains the same. I love it when someone says to meet them somewhere, and I don’t have to use a map to figure out where I’ll need to go. I love also, when there’s a traffic jam, knowing excellent alternate routes to take. Priceless.

      Twelve Apostles as seen from the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia

      • The sights around me. I am partial, of course, but the Pacific Northwest in America is the most livable and beautiful place that I’ve ever been. The people are friendly, the air is clean, there are both the beaches and the mountains very close by, beautiful valleys, wineries… The Hunter Valley and Kangaroo Valley near Sydney, Australia are amazing (you must see!), the Great Ocean Road in Australia is also spectacular, and what all I’d seen in the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand… Gorgeous! But nothing compares to where I’m from. Especially the Columbia River Gorge. Breathtaking! Multnomah Falls! 

      Me on Australia Day a few years ago

      • Holidays. Nobody (except for a German Christmas market, or Weihnachtsmarkt) seems to nail the Christmas spirit as well as USA. Some Aussies in the suburb of Sydney where I lived went ga-ga with Christmas lights… But it still wasn’t as good, in my opinion. I loved Australia Day, though. And in the Netherlands, I loved Queen’s Day (now King’s Day). But my goodness, we knock the holidays out of the ballpark with style. Flashy style! New Year’s Eve was great in Sydney down on the Harbour, yes! New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands sucked (ask any expat over there about the fireworks around that time and they’ll chew your ear off with the details for sure). Then we’ve got the 4th of July — I love that one! Thanksgiving rocks. I appreciate it so much more now! Halloween — Don’t even get me started! That’s got to be the best holiday for kids in America, next to Christmas. Halloween elsewhere in the world stinks — Face it, it does. Haha! Then there’s Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, both typically when families go away camping. My birthday in America even will be better. In the Netherlands, it sucked. People (if you allow it) just show up at your door, and you have to serve them. On your birthday. Or you could just hold a ridiculous circle party for your birthday (where you also have to serve the guests — oh, what fun). By the way, if you move to Holland and don’t want to be bothered on your birthday, either don’t tell people when your birthday is (and don’t write it in on their birthday calendar/verjaardagskalender in their bathroom), or just conveniently leave town before it rolls around. True story. Birthdays in Australia are similar to American-style. Just do a barbecue, or pub meet-ups, depending on your circle of friends & family. It never really seemed like an obligation to celebrate either, if you chose not to. In Holland, I chose to go away each year and it pissed some certain people off that I wasn’t home to serve them. On my birthday, doggone it!

      • Deadly beasts. I have very little threat where I live of any dangerous beasts (mostly I just have to worry about serial killers, thieves, rapists, gangsters and terrorists where I live — lol), but Australia, you cured my arachnophobia. Seriously, I was working in the garden the other day and walked through a spider web — with a spider in it. It was only an inch big, and it was crawling on me. I picked it off of me carefully and sat it on the ground. And I didn’t jump, scream or kill it. Why? Australia… Dear Australia. Your garden orb spiders make webs often larger than the size of a grown man. The web itself is made of something similar to elastic. Thank goodness those spiders can’t kill a human (or I’d like to believe so because a few times I walked into those webs and went nearly berserk). But then you’ve got your redback spider (same as a black widow, but the red mark is on its back instead of its belly), and that freaky attack funnel-web spider. Both of those are deadly. The huntsman spider, which gets as big as an adult’s hand, they’re fast! But they won’t kill you. I was walking down the hallway one evening and saw this out of the corner of my eye…

      Huntsman spider. In my hallway.

      It was as big as my hand! And then there are the snakes. I’ve never been afraid of snakes, but the brown snake was a common one where I lived. They’re brown, as their name says, and they’re one of the world’s most venomous snakes. Good gravy, that idea made gardening kind of a drag.

      I have so many more things to share, but this will be all for now. If you’ve lived abroad and have visited or returned home to your hometown, which things do you appreciate more now? Please share away!

      Update! One more thing that I appreciate — I’ve gained a larger vocabulary since living abroad. Not only having learned Dutch, but also in Australia they use a lot of British English, as well as their own Australian English. No such thing as Australian English, you say? Think again & click here to watch Hi Josh tell it like it is.

        LOL

        “Say what?!”

        I have returned to the United States to live now, for good (but who knows where else life might take me). I left Australia with an opportunistic purpose: to be closer to family, to build my future, and simply to just be. The opportunity came to me when a trip coming home for a visit also offered work, help from family and friends, and simply put — why not? I loved living in Australia, and I have nothing really bad to say about it there. I just wanted to be back in my hometown and give it a try, and it’s working! I’m happy about my decision and highly motivated to make the best for myself.

        But there is that re-entry shock that I’ve been going through…

        LOL

        “Not Kim Kardashian! Again!”

        What is re-entry shock, you ask? Click here. Wow, I hadn’t lived in America for 11 years! So much has changed, yet so much remains the same. What are those things which haven’t changed? Well, actually Americans would be heavily offended, if I told it all here (which I will eventually, but in tiny doses). Having lived abroad for so long, 7 years in the Netherlands and 4 years in Australia, my eyes literally were opened far more to how the world really is, and what America is to the world, and most Americans who have never lived abroad (you American travelers will never understand it either) won’t and can’t understand what I’m talking about, even if I simplify it. Experience alone is the only way that you will understand. Our American views on war even, we Americans are sheltered from what is really going on with fluffy, sugar-coated yet fear-induced news coverage and whatever political reasoning that we are offered. We’re always told various things which justify it, like how it’s a “humanitarian effort.” Ha. 

        I prepared myself for this re-entry here back in the U.S.A., though… 

        LOL

        “Oh no, you didn’t.”

        Oh yes, I did. I knew what to expect. As an American, who grew up in this culture and already understood it, and I knew full well abroad what my own view of what being an American was and often had to be some sort of ambassador for us (oh joy, the anti-American comments that I so frequently heard), but let me assure you that only a few things about me has changed. I’m just more aware now, but I still appreciate what we have as American citizens. So, to help me cope with the re-entry adjustments, I combine what all I’ve learned living abroad, as well as the good cultural habits that I’ve formed and learned from both the Dutch culture and Australian culture. It’s called cultural syncretism.

        Syncretism is combined separate concepts into one new, different and unique idea. Cultural syncretism is when two or more cultures are blended together and create a newer custom, practice, or philosophy. Cultural syncretism occurs for many reasons, such as immigration or relationships within groups, and it results in one finding ways to blend these new customs into their own customs.

        The things that I’ve taken with me from those other cultures:

        • I allow people to share their views with me, without debating with them. I want to hear your views and welcome it. How it differs with the average American: put an American Democrat and an American Republican into a room alone together and give them only the opportunity to discuss politics, and watch them boil at the mere thought of what the other is saying. Hilarious, really. They can’t just sit there and hear each other out without finding a reason to get upset, and they begin preaching at the other for thinking the way that they do. They’ll try to change the other person’s opinion in that one discussion, instead of just listening and learning from each other.

        • I’m more open to other ways of doing things. If it works for one group, then that’s great. It makes no difference to me if you’re Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim, or even simply what your ethnic background is. I won’t judge you. I never did that anyway, but now I stand more firm in my beliefs.

        • I’m more aware of just how racist we still are in America (sad how it remains here, really), but I’m also more educated about our own American history and how racism here actually began. I learned more factual information about our American history while living abroad. From foreigners! Lots of people abroad know more about us than you’d think, and 98% of the people that I interacted with daily, especially at language school in the Netherlands (Iraqis, Iranians, Somalians, Serbians, former-Soviets, etc) and they rarely, if ever, had a bad word to say about Americans. Most just disagreed with our foreign policies. 

        Dear Americans, our school history books do not share with us sufficiently our own history. As a matter of fact, we are taught a very bland yet pumped-up and smoothed-over version of what really happened in America since day one. If you’re curious as to what I mean, read the book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. Really, do read it. If you think you know everything about our country, you should give that book a whirl. Actually, everyone around the world should read it because then you’d understand us better.  

        LOL

        “What the… Americans aren’t all spoiled rotten, ignorant people?!”

        Anyway… Since I’ve been back in America, here is a short list of things that have made me laugh at my own culture…

        1. Medication commercials. Full of, “Ask your doctor about _______. If you take _________, you could experience side effects such as chronic diarrhea, bloody stool, migraine headaches, thoughts of suicide, diphtheria, typhoid, small pox, memory loss, extra arms growing out of your back, death and/or dismemberment” — I’m just joking about a few of those, but you catch my drift. Actress Blythe Danner even shows up in one ad promoting Prolia. Not that that is a bad thing, Blythe plugging a prescription medication. It’s just there are so many medication ads, and it’s almost silly after never seeing any on TV abroad for over a decade. And then there are commercials about your possible participation in law suits against some former medications/surgically inserted medical devices which have caused physical complications.

        2. White teeth. WHITE teeth. Scary-not-normal-human white. It’s almost an obsession. All sorts of products are available… Check out your American TV commercials and watch their teeth there and on the news because actors and American newsanchors have some of the whitest of the whitest teeth. Creepy, really.

        3. Weight loss commercials. All types. Drink shakes/smoothies, pills, Weight Watchers/Nutrisystem/Jenny Craig (with celebrity endorsements)… Just eat better and get a little bit more active. Funny note: as I write this, a Nutrisystem commercial came on my TV, followed by a Little Caesars pizza commercial plugging their deep-dish pizza with its crust all wrapped up in bacon. Seriously.

        4. Dominos, breakfast cereal, et al commercials on TV after 11pm. It doesn’t baffle me anymore why some people are obese here, apart from the other unfortunate factors like thyroid problems or low-income forced diets and lifestyles. 

        5. Nearly everyone is obsessed with terrorism over here. That’s terrorism in itself. Like they’re waiting for it to happen and just obsessing over it. Even loads of American crime TV shows often base the episode on the topic. Score: Terrorists 1, Americans 0. I won’t go into the media’s constant coverage of things that make Americans panic. Of course, the media never follows up the news story with information about “why” it is or could be happening. No, that would educate people too well and cancel out the panic-domino effect, making the news story therefore unnecessary. 

        LOL

        “My oh my oh my…”

        7. Free pop refills in fast food restaurants… Cut. It. Out.

        8. A small fraction of the country actually gets it that our “freedom of speech” is not necessarily so, on TV and the radio; everything is edited by the FCC, so our “freedom of speech” is not really entirely “free speech.” Rated-R movies are played regularly on normal TV in the Netherlands and Australia without editing them, but they play them after 9pm, when your child should be in bed. Similarly, radio stations play the artist’s original song, and not a radio-safe version. 

        9. Most Americans can only tell you that they have a “Constitutional Right” to bear arms, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and to plead “the fifth.” Anything else from the Constitution? Nope. Not even the Preamble.

        10. Sex in America is very taboo, which is why I feel it’s so heavily flaunted all over the place in America! I feel that the Netherlands handles anything related to sex better than both the U.S. and Australia.

        LOL

        “Crikey!”

        And what about Australia? What do I miss, what do I not miss, and what do I take from that culture? Well, I’ll cover that soon…

        G'day Mate!

        “Welcome to Australia!”

        In Australia, as well as a few other countries around the world, this Tall Poppy Syndrome is in full effect. I experience it so often, whether it is happening to me or to others.

        What is “Tall Poppy Syndrome?” According to Wikipedia, and numerous other sources online,

        The tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term primarily used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and other Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.

        Australia and New Zealand’s usage of the term has evolved and is not uniformly negative. In Australia, a long history of “underdog” culture and profound respect for humility in contrast to that of Australia’s English feudal heritage results in a different understanding of “Tall poppy syndrome”.

        It is good and bad, but it’s ridiculous, and it exists. Nothing we can do about it. But, in my opinion, on many occasions people around me here in Oz, it seems to my observant eye, have used this syndrome as an excuse to treat someone who is or has succeeded at something great to make them feel like dirt. I’ve seen it on most occasions as a cynical and sarcastic way to make someone feel less. It seems ignorant. Jealous. Wrong. Holds people back. Maybe not Aussies, but I don’t know… It’s the only thing that I feel “wrong” here, but I know that I judge it on a whole based on where I come from, where such behavior is seen as demeaning or antisocial. I accept it living here, of course, as I am aware that this is their country and culture, and it is not mine, but it still boggles me after already four years of living amongst it. I don’t get offended when an Aussie knocks me down (I instead chuckle inside at them).

        I just think that Aussies should be proud of who they are, whether their success is something personal, family-orientated, or something that the whole world could become aware of. You’re proud of your Olympians, pro-surfers, and the Socceroos, aren’t you? You don’t have to go all “American” about it, but my goodness. Just smile and know you could be inspiring something great in someone else. Or don’t. Whatever.

        The old adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” comes to mind. Just like how I did in the Netherlands, where “Dutch directness” is king or queen. So, like how I had adapted to the Dutch with their directness (I lived there for 7 years, so I had to!), I can’t knock them. Not necessarily, although it seems like I am. Why not? A fair go, as they say here! Like I said, I’m not of this culture and can’t change it. I just observe it. But I witness things and it seems odd, this behavior given by an Aussie to a fellow Aussie. For example, recently a friend was so pleased, sharing about their promotion at work, as they’d worked hard to get from the bottom to somewhere that they were happy within the company. Everybody wants that. But… So those around who played the Tall Poppy-card on my friend should’ve heard from my friend retorting something to knock them down as well. Something like one of these examples would’ve been brilliant:

        • Promotions go to those who are skilled and deserving in all areas at work — Hey! You got a promotion recently, but I just saw you yesterday not putting your dirty dish into the dishwasher in the lunchroom. Isn’t there a sign there above the dishwasher, in English, asking that all employees are responsible to care for their dirty dishes? Does lunchtime not apply here for your highly skilled employment? (Could add: And I know so-and-so could your job better than you, and they take care of their own dirty dishes in the lunchroom.)

        • How long have you been working here and without a promotion? (LOL)

        • How about when you receive accolades here, we all not just speak to you for a week? Sounds cool?

        Many internationally-known Aussies have even had to face it. Sadly. Golfer Greg Norman and Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Ian Thorpe are a few off the top of my head. Rock bands like INXS have even had to endure it, playing down their international fame to fellow Aussies. In the book The Final Days of Michael Hutchence by Mike Gee, Mike interviewed INXS band member Kirk Pengilly in 1997:

        MG: Talking about The Divinyls, they did better in the US than most people are aware of.

        KP: And that was always the way with us. I think we always did way better overseas than the average Australian was aware of. Probably because we were always trying to play it down a bit for fear of the tall poppy.

        MG: It’s ridiculous, this syndrome.

        KP: It’s the English heritage, the English are very much like that too. They’re very much into that tearing success down. It’s weird, you know. America’s the complete opposite.

        So Aussies, do you feel it is necessary to carry on your old tradition of Tall Poppy? If so, why? Or if not, why? If yes, can you name a good example for why Tall Poppy Syndrome is necessary? Or are you just cool with it? If no, would you please remind the next knocker you witness that they could be just as good as the Tall Poppy? Help stop the silliness…

        After four years (actually, I noticed after only being here during my first day!), I know Australia is very Americanized. Sadly. Good for people like me, but not so thrilling for Aussies, I can imagine. Is this another possible answer for why Australians wish to cling to this Tall Poppy Syndrome?

        In the meantime, well, I’m just going to sit back and watch Aussies tear each other down. Good on you, mates!

        And are Aussies proud of their Aussieness to at least some degree? They are. Again, good on you, mates! If they should claim that they’re not (many have complained to me that Americans “have too much pride in being American”), just take a look at this example of the back window of this car that is parked next to me while I write this! These Aussies seem proud of who they are:

        Southern Cross & Australian flag

        Southern Cross & Australian flag

        20140218-170319.jpg

        Aussie dinner tables would not be set completely if you’ve forgotten the barbecue sauce. I’ve been here for three years now and have come to find that this sauce, tomato (toe-mah-toe) sauce and sweet chilli sauce, mustards (like honey mustard), golden syrup, mint sauce (for peas), and/or tartare for fish (or tartar, like it’s called in America) are the norm… Speaking of which, why are we going this to ourselves with these pronunciation differences, my fellow English speakers?! I worked for a short while in an Aussie butcher shop and butchered your Australian English almost every single day. Scotch fillet to an Aussie is “Scotch fill-et,” but an American would say “Scotch fill-ay.” Now I read accounts and codes over a phone and butcher up your H “haitch” for me is “aitch” and Z “zed” for me is “zee.” Go figure.

        Anyway. What a tangent.

        Barbecue sauce. BBQ sauce. Whatever you call it. I have friends who are from the south in the U.S.A., and to them BBQ is religion. The sauce is often homemade, following Great-Great-Great-Great Uncle Cletus’s secret recipe, passed down in the family from the Civil War days. It probably could give some outsiders the runs, but it is unbeatably delicious. They marinade and slather the sauce on the, let’s say, ribs and cook them for a prolonged period of time on the grill or over the fire. This, my friends, is what they call a barbecue. Not sausages slung onto a barby for however-long. No. It’s a painstaking process filled with love and tradition. The sauce itself makes it so worth it. (Source here). But in Australia, just squeeeeeeze it on your food from a plastic squeeze bottle and…voilà. LOL.

        I came to write this today because I’m making pizzas at home tonight. My husband asks, “Can you put barbecue sauce on one of them (instead of toe-mah-toe sauce)?” LOL. OK. You can even order pizzas here from Domino’s with barbecue sauce as the sauce base…

        I have nothing against barbecue sauce and Aussies loving it. I don’t even mind when I order a bacon and egg roll and ask for toe-mah-toe sauce, but receive instead barbecue sauce. It’s tasty. Tastes like barbecue sauce. It’s not spicy or too zesty. It’s tangy, yet sweet. I rarely use it, but I think some Aussies love it so much that they would possibly bathe themselves in it, if they could (if they don’t already).

        Australians have several brands of barbecue sauce to choose from: store brands, Masterfoods, Rosella, to name a few. But here’s a group of Aussies chattering about where to find American barbecue sauces in Australia.

        I use Australian barbecue sauce to make Sloppy Joes! It’s really not healthy, this recipe, but I want to share it with you all because so many Aussies have eaten it and asked me for it. Seriously. And I never write the recipe down because each time the taste I want to achieve varies.

        To feed 4-6 adults, you’ll need:

        – 1 kilo beef mince (or turkey mince – it’s healthier and nobody will know!)
        – Any Australian brand barbecue sauce
        – Any Australian brand tomato (toe-mah-toe) sauce
        (or substitute with 140g Leggo’s tomato paste)
        – Brown sugar
        – Worcestershire sauce
        – Finely diced green capsicum and/or yellow onion, to taste
        – Cooking oil
        – Hamburger buns (or bread rolls) – Enough for everyone.

        The trick to this is that you must taste as you cook -and- once the sauce ingredients are added, the consistency of the meat needs to always become like a thick sauce with cooking – not runny or too dry. If it begins to dry out, add a little more of something, but always taste-test to find your liking. It should be tangy, yet sweet. Never sour, bitter or tart. Follow the first step below before taste-testing your cooking too.

        1.) Thaw the mince thoroughly. Crumble the mince with your hands into a large, lightly oiled skillet/frying pan over medium heat, stirring often, while the meat browns. While the meat is browning, add finely diced green capsicum and/or yellow onion, to taste. If you like a little, add only a little. A lot, add a lot. It’s up to you.

        2.) As the meat finishes browning, add enough barbecue sauce to be soaked up into the meat. Don’t overly drown the meat.And keep on stirring.

        3.) You’ll need to now add an even amount of tomato sauce or paste to the mix to be soaked up, like you did with the barbecue sauce. Not enough to overly drown the meat, though…

        4.) Let the meat absorb the fluids, stirring often. If the meat has absorbed enough to be like a thick sauce and not runny, and if the meat is no longer pink in the center, taste it. Is it too tart from the tomato sauce/paste? Now is when you should add a little brown sugar. Add maybe one or two heaping tablespoons full, then stir it in. Is it still too tart? Add another tablespoon full of brown sugar -or- squirt more barbecue sauce into pan. Taste it. Is it too sweet? Add a few drizzles of Worcestershire sauce. Try to even out the tangy and tart: too tangy, add a little more tomato sauce/paste or Worcestershire sauce! And too tart, add a little more barbecue sauce or brown sugar. Stir that up until the meat soaks it all up, keeping in mind that the finished product needs to be like a thick sauce.

        5.) If the taste is what you like, but it’s too thick, just add a little warm water to the pan, stir it in and let it simmer.

        6.) Split some hamburger buns (or bread rolls) in halves, hamburger-style) and scoop the mix onto the bottom half. Plop the hamburger bun “lid” on top and serve.

        Dutch people (typically not keen on eating “American” foods) LOVED these, and every single Australian that I’ve fed these to have loved them as well. Please let me know what you think, if you try it!

        Dance Party

        Bucks & Hens

        No, not a bunch of Bambi-like bucks and funky little lady chickens boogying away at a party, but men and women celebrating their upcoming nuptials. These bucks and hens parties Down Under are very similar to bachelor and bachelorette parties in America. Bucks and hens parties in Australia usually last for a whole weekend. The Best Man and the Maid/Matron of Honor Honour usually help with planning a bucks or hens party for the groom and the bride, but the bride or groom can feel free to plan their own.

        A typical bucks party for the groom

        The guys get together and, depending on styles and tastes, the festivities may last all weekend. There is something for everyone to do together: Fishing, surfing or even skydiving. They might travel to get to the location{s} where the festivities will be held. Here are some of the ideas:

        · Road trip — A weekend away in the mountains for snowboarding/skiing or at the beach for surfing and partying. What they’ll be up to depends on the group of guys, really…

        · Casino — Vegas-style. Can go all night. Or all weekend.

        · Golf — 18 holes thrown in somewhere during the weekend. Dads and grandpas might join in on this part.

        · Steak — Meat. A man and his steak dinner… From the barbie or at a steakhouse.

        · On a boat — This could involve staying on a houseboat for the weekend for fishing and water sports, or taking an evening cruise on a party boat in Sydney Harbour.

        · Limo — Have someone else drive them around. In style. So nobody is drinking and driving either.

        · Alcohol — And loads of it, if that’s what they prefer. Sometimes drugs are involved as well, depending on the group of guys.

        · Clubbing — Either going out clubbing or renting out the VIP room of one of the hottest clubs in town, if this is their style.

        · House party — They might hire a house for the weekend, somewhere away from the bride and her group. This is where most of the festivities will take place, while the evenings are often spent in the city at clubs.

        · Stripper{s}/Topless Waitress{es} — Oh, but of course… Much to the chagrin of the ladies normally, this seems to be an element of nearly all bucks parties. And hopefully this is as far as it will go.

        A typical hens party for the bride

        Similar to what the bucks are up to, the ladies get together and the festivities may last all weekend. There’s something to do together: Pampering, shopping and/or… even skydiving. They also may travel to get to where the festivities will be held. Here are some of the ideas:

        · Pampering — The ladies will take a whole day to indulge in getting manicures, pedicures, facials, hair styling, massages and more. If they can afford it, they might do so at a day spa.

        · High Tea — High tea is like steak for the ladies. Moms Mums and grandmas are usually along for this part of the celebration.

        · Road trip — A weekend away of relaxing on a beach, being pampered during the day and partying all night.

        · Clubbing — As with the bucks party, the ladies will go out but often in some form of a dress-up/costume theme. Most of the hens I’ve seen are just wearing a tiara and sash, but I’ve also seen some pretty extreme ones where they’re dressed-up {down} into sexy costumes, boogying away on the dance floor.

        · House party — Same as with the guys, the girls might indulge in a lot of their partying at the hired home and then set out at night for the clubs.

        · Limo — Have someone else drive them around. In style. So nobody is drinking and driving either.

        · Alcohol — Lots of bubbly going around, but it all depends on the group of women. Drugs might also be involved, depending what type of group we’re talking about.

        · Harbour Cruise — There are many types of party boats out there on the Sydney Harbour, just as an example.

        · Wineries — I’ve seen a hens party tour bus stopping off at every winery in the Hunter Valley

        · Stripper{s}/Topless Waiter{s} — I might be partial to this because I’m a woman, but I think that most of the women who throw a hens party will involve a male stripper only because their significant other is having the same activity going on at his party and she is aware of it while planning her own.

        Typical places where the bucks and hens parties are held in Australia:

        · Surfers Paradise/Gold Coast
        · Night life: In Sydney this might be in Kings Cross or Darlinghurst
        · Beach/Bush — Camping, skiing/snowboarding, fishing, or surfing getaways
        · Byron Bay
        · Wineries
        · Cruises

        Have you held a bucks or hens party of your own? Been involved in any parties lately? If yes to either of the above, what was the most outrageous/fun/hilarious thing that happened?

        © thingsaussieslike.wordpress.comI‘ve had to take a break from posting lately because I’ve been busier than ever. Australian immigration required that I leave the country again in order for my partner visa to be issued to me… It’s hard to explain it all in one breath — Here is what all I’ve gone through since the first day I arrived Down Under: I was here first on a 12-month tourist visa. When that expired, I had to go offshore and apply for my partner visa and another tourist visa. While the partner visa processed, I could return to Australia on my new tourist visa {only 6 months were granted to me} and await the partner visa. When my partner visa was ready, it could only be granted if I again left Oz… Are you still with me? Any questions?

        Since there are no countries immediately bordering Australia that we could just drive to, my husband and I had become almost hopelessly broke from airfares/traveling fees & all of the visa fees. Thankfully Australian immigration also has finally allowed me to start searching for work now {I was not allowed to work on a tourist visa — Without an already existing & valid work sponsor down here, you can’t get a work visa if you’re over the age of 30}. But, with my sanity and humor humour still intact, I have also came across a slew of new & hilarious Aussie-isms — Some might make your head spin!

        One evening recently, we had friends from “Vico” {aka Victoria} up for a visit. We decided to keep dinner simple: throw it all on the “barbie” {aka barbecue}. However, I kept calling the barbecue “the grill”. They started to take the piss out of me for this, to which I facetiously would say grill instead whenever possible. Where I’m from, they call it a barbecue, grill or even a Weber {Weber’s U.S. website even calls them “grills”}. Whatever, right? Down here you call it the barbie or the barbecue. A “grill” is what some homes down here have, if they have a stove “cooktop” and oven unit combination, or a “cooker”. You can also have a cooker {eg, a slow cooker} on your kitchen “benchtop”, or what I’ve always known to be a counter or countertop… Anyway, the grill is a separate cooking compartment above the oven. And the stove is not a “stove”, folks. It’s known as a “cooktop” by the Aussies. Thankfully a spoon is also called a spoon in the merry old land of Oz.

        And now I’ve got my own car — I’m learning new words for parts of this car left and right! The hood over the engine of the car is the “bonnet”, the trunk is the “boot”, the windshield is the “windscreen”… And don’t forget that lights and bulbs are “lamps” or “globes”. Oh, and the flashlight in the emergency kit is a “torch”. Driving while sitting on the other side of the car {right-side drive in Australia} is one thing, but driving a manual transmission, shifting gears with your left hand for the first time, is another! Mostly all of the laws of the road are the same, but you’ll find much more roundabouts than in America. And pedestrians walk on a “footpath”, not on a sidewalk. They also cross at a “zebra crossing”, not at a crosswalk. You’ll also notice some streets are called “parade” {abbreviated pde} or “crescent” {abbreviated cres} — These are new to me. As for the fuel, if it’s not diesel, you can say you’re going to the gas station service station or the “servo” to get fuel or unleaded, but always make sure you specifically call it “petrol” and not gas or gasoline. “Gas” is LPG down here…

        We’re also smack in the middle of renovations a “reno” in the home, so we’ve had to employ some tradesmen, or “tradies”, like a “sparky” {aka electrician}, a “chippy” {aka carpenter}, and a “bricky” {aka bricklayer}. Last, but not least, there’s the “poo man”… Can you guess which one that is?

        A plumber. Seriously.
        I would have reckoned a “plumby” or “plumbo”, but no…

        Unless the plumber was also just taking the piss out of me, that’s what I’m told some plumbers are calling themselves here Down Under.  {I’ve double-checked with my husband and, yes, this is what some plumbers call themselves — As a matter of fact, he has a good mate who is a plumber, who also refers to himself as a “poo man”…}

        If you have red hair {I don’t}, you could be called:

        Ranga {short for orangutan} — Said rang-uh
        Bluey {also what blue bottle jellyfish are called by the Aussies}

        Don’t be offended — It’s normal here.

        If you’re tired, you can say you’re “knackered”, “buggered”, or that you’re simply “stuffed”.

        For those who are thirsty —

        Wanna have some coffee?

        “Flat white” = Similar to a latte or café au lait; a cappuccino also comes close, but the foam is dry instead.
        “Short black” = This is an espresso, usually served in a little cup.
        “Long black” = This is an Americano. It’s a coffee which is half-water with a shot or two of espresso.

        Keen for a beer?

        “Schooner” = Usual size of a beer served in a pub, it’s just slightly smaller than a pint.
        “Pot” = Almost a half-pint of beer.
        “Middy” = Same as a “pot”.
        “Draught” = Draft. I’m always chatting away about this one…

        Or do you fancy some fruity-type of drink?

        “Cordial” = {note: some Aussies pronounce this “cordigal”} This is a concentrated non-alcoholic syrup. Most choices are fruit flavors flavours or are made from fruit juice. Before you drink it, it’s to be mixed with water, but it can optionally be mixed with club soda or alcohol. Kind of like Kool-Aid
        “Squash”
        = Similar to cordial.
        “Lemonade” = It’s not American lemonade, which is made from lemons, water and sugar. According to Wikipedia:

        In Australia and New Zealand, lemonade can also refer to any clear, carbonated soft drink with a primarily lemon flavor; e.g. a lemon-lime soft drink, such as Sprite. Culturally however, with a drink such as Sprite, the flavor is not recognised as “lemon-lime”, but just plain “lemonade”, although it is still the same flavor as its international counterpart. Other colored (and flavored) soft drinks are sometimes referred to by their color such as “red lemonade” or “green lemonade”, implying that “lemonade” is the clear version of its “flavored” counterparts.

        I have put together a list of Aussie slang and Aussie-isms {I constantly add more to it too} on this page, if you want to see more.

        Now if you thought that this was bad, you should make your next stop to the very lovely New Zealand, like we did. We went to New Zealand while my partner visa was to be issued and visited the south island. Upon arrival, we were told to get some crayfish in Kaikoura at “Nun’s Bun” — That would be “Nin’s Bin”, actually. Someone spelled a word out for me and said something like “hitch” for the letter H {for H, Aussies say haytch, instead of aytch}. That was awfully confusing for me, but I loved hearing the Kiwis {it’s OK to call someone from New Zealand a “Kiwi”} say “fish and chips” — It sounded like fwush-en-chups.

        Here’s a sample of the dialect in New Zealand:

        Another sort of Aussie-ism, Aussies like to take the piss out of the way that the Kiwis speak, so this video was quite popular with a lot of people Down Under.

        Update 24 May 2012:

        I’ve just begun reading this book called Boned by Anonymous — It’s an Australian book, based in Sydney. I have only just begun reading the prologue of the book and within 2 pages find that there are several words which you’d need an Aussie English to American English dictionary to help guide you. The words that you might need to look up there: short black, trackie daks, message bank, bugger, verandah, CBD, sculled…

        © thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com

        I made this for a friend:
        Australians — Click on the image to see it full-size.

        I recently accompanied a friend late one afternoon arvo to an open house, where she and several other interested buyers where viewing an apartment a flat in a suburb near the center centre of Sydney. With the real estate agent there to answer any questions, we walked through each room, passing other potential buyers who shared their thoughts and ideas about the flat amongst themselves. Some we passed in the rooms or in the hall, while some came for a viewing after we’d arrived. Some were dressed casually, while some were dressed in their work attire; business, tradesman/woman {Aussie: tradie}, and otherwise… And then there was a potential buyer who showed up barefoot!  He was wearing boardshorts {Aussie: boardies}, a short-sleeve shirt, and he had his sunglasses {Aussie: sunnies} on the top of his head. And a nice Aussie smile🙂

        Oh, yes. I’d heard of the barefoot Aussie! It was something that I had actually looked forward to seeing — This sighting at the open house actually had me in stitches, for it was the last place I thought I’d see it happen! At the supermarket? Yes, of course! That would be normal. Each neighborhood neighbourhood Woolworths {Aussie: Woolie’s} probably serves approximately 2 customers each day who come in sans footwear to buy milk, tomato sauce, and whatever other Aussie essentials needed on any given typical sunny, laid-back Australia day.

        Since then, I have seen at least a dozen people walking around barefoot. I once saw a whole family walking through the parking lot to their car at Big W {not for shoes, apparently} in a nice, rural-area of Sydney like… Caringbah. Maybe they just came from the beach? I’m not sure… Typically, Aussies are more likely to be seen wearing thongs.

        © thingsaussieslike.wordpress.com

        I was used to seeing signs like this in America... I've not seen a sign like this yet anywhere in Australia.

        Honestly — Not all Aussies walk around barefoot, but it is also not so strange to see at least one Aussie on a quick outing, eating a burger at Hungry Jack’s, or standing in line to pay for their gas petrol at a service station {Aussie: servo}, without their shoes on their feet.

        More online about Australians barefooting it:
        · Lost a shoe? Barefoot walking in Australia – via Mum’s gone 2 Aus.
        · Why don’t Australians wear shoes? – via Yahoo Answers {awesome responses!}
        · What it means to be Australian {#40} – via Only Melbourne.

        What is your favorite favourite barefoot Aussie sighting? Have you tried walking around barefoot yourself? And, if you’re Aussie, do you do this too?

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