As I walked off the plane I saw a big “G’day mate! Welcome to Australia!” sign and I was sold. As my time in Australia continued I learned that greeting isn’t as common as Paul Hogan would like us to believe, but Australians definitely use the term “mate” to mean “friend” very often, something I still love. The real phrase Aussies curse Paul Hogan for is “put another shrimp on the barbie.” I have yet to find an Australian who is a fan of that phrase. Australians don’t even use the term shrimp but “prawns”, and I have yet to see any on a barbecue. But that said I still find myself saying it. It’s just so catchy, sorry Australia. Since coming to Australia, I have participated in many touristy activities that I recommend to everyone. I have chased Wallabies (which is not smiled upon), held koalas, been stung by jellyfish while snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, have survived a panic attack after realizing I wasn’t stung by one of Australia’s deadly jellyfish (to the amusement of the handsome Aussie captain), zip-lined through Australia’s northern Rainforest, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge (in a stunning onesie safety suit), have learned to surf, and I have seen a performance in the Sydney Opera House (which at the time had bright pink seat cushions to my surprise). Through my adventures here I have met so many people. The belief that Aussies are easygoing friend folk is not farfetched. I found that most Australians are thrilled when they hear my foreign accent. It’s a great conversation starter, and most 20-year-old Australians have been or plan to visit America in the near future. Most of their destinations include LA, Vegas, NYC, or Miami. It’s rare for Vermont to be mentioned. I was stunned one day when I met an 87-year-old Aussie woman who told me she had visited and loved Vermont. I was skeptical until she told me it was still the greatest foliage she had ever seen. I currently live in a beach town with palm trees which is a nice change but I definitely missed Vermont’s fall last year (or autumn as the Aussies call it). One disheartening difference, the cheese here has nothing on Cabot’s. I plan to gorge myself when I return home. Also they pretty much look at you like you are crazy when you order a plain cheese pizza. Aussies like their meat, on pizzas, for breakfast, in mini-pies. At the local lawn bowling club they have a meat raffle every Friday. Winners of the raffle take away trays of meat; the place literally clears out when that last tray is claimed. My eating habits aside, Australia and the US are very similar in many ways. Bothindustrialized modern countries with people that speak English who love material goods and holidays. I currently live in a small beach town. I say small but there are probably 27,000 people in Thirroul. It is a suburb of the large city Wollongong, located about an hour down the coast from Sydney. Thirroul does have a great small town feel which I appreciate, coming from Cabot. “Downtown” has a row of shops and bakeries ending with the town library. The town post office workers all know me by name, and our neighbours are all on friendly terms.I have greatly enjoyed my time in Australia. I don’t plan to live here forever; it’s too far away from my family and friends. I have learned that I want to keep travelling. There is more of Australia to explore, and I want to use it as a gateway to the Pacific Islands and Asia. I recommend a trip to Australia to anyone looking for an adventure. The people will welcome you, the kangaroos are as common as Vermont deer, and you can do and see so much. If you are still looking for reasons to visit, the accents sure don’t hurt.
Photo Caption: "He Loves Me!" Photo courtesy of AP Daniels.