american expats, vol 2: 10 things i’ve learned about australia so far

Hi everyone!

It’s been awhile... again. All my posts start with that lately. I plan to get back into blogging more regularly once we get all settled here, so please hold me to it.

Joe and I have been here for just over 3 weeks now and are settling in well. We both started work and are enjoying our jobs and coworkers! We have an amazing apartment in the Manly Beach suburb called Fairlight (2 bedrooms, which is a huge upgrade from our tiny San Francisco apartment!) Manly reminds me a lot of the marina or pacific heights in SF. Once we get the apartment all setup, I’ll do an Insta story flat tour or share some photos on the blog. We ordered most of our home items online since we don’t have a car, and we’re still waiting on a few things, but I’m loving how cute it’s turning out so far!

We have a handful of American friends here, along with friends from work, but eager to meet new friends! If you have any connections out here, please put me in touch! It’s been great meeting people through mutual friends. It’s also been a fun little extended date for me and Joe. WiFi takes forever to get setup out here so we won’t have it until next week, and we don’t have a ton of plans after work given our small social circle, so it’s been nice and romantic to get to spend so much “we time” together exploring our new neighborhood.

So, down to it — I’m sharing some Aussie observations & fun facts that I’ve noticed so far in my 3 short weeks here:

1. Everyone is so fit & active.

I love it! It’s very inspiring. Joe and I have found ourselves outdoors as much as possible. When the ocean is your backyard and the weather is this nice, it makes it a lot easier. Most people in Australia have gone for a run or swim, met a friend for coffee, and are ready for the day, all by 8 am. Swimming is very popular here, and every beach has a freshwater pool (check out my photo of Bondi’s on my last post — it’s the most stunning). I’ve been a little chicken to try the Bold & Beautiful swim, which is a swim from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach and back with a group of hundreds of people who meet to do it each morning. Hopefully by next post I will have tried it!

2. Grabbing a coffee is a big ordeal here.

Aussies are coffee snobs no doubt. It’s more than a caffeine fuel here though, it’s a social activity like I haven’t seen before. Everyone wants to meet for a coffee, like the way we’d meet for drinks. They take their coffee very seriously and all the cafes are so cool and trendy. I’m still navigating what I like to order, but my favorites are flat whites, piccolos, and long blacks. The long Black is the closest to a good old American cup of joe. PS: they’re even bigger on avocado toast than San Francisco, but here it’s called “smashed avo” (because, point #5 below, obvi.) #basicAF and I’m fitting in quite nicely.

3. I miss sandwiches.

There are barely any spots to grab a deli sandwich, which is my guilty pleasure. I knew all the best sando spots in SF, but I’m lost here. All the sandwiches here are like smoked salmon, European type baguettes, or ham croissants. They’re more about their rolls (which are actually croissants), but “sausage rolls” are pretty damn good too if I’m being honest. Definitely buying deli supplies at the grocery store to get my fix of sandos.

4. People surprisingly love our accents.

It’s still funny to think I have an accent, but it draws a lot of attention to us, even just in line at a store or something. People always ask where I’m from and whether I’m on holiday, which starts the whole conversation about how I moved and what I do and how long I’m here for, etc. My accent a good conversation starter for sure. It’s pretty much a consensus when we talk about America that everyone let’s you know they hate Trump and love San Francisco. Samesies.

5. Lots of words are hard to say.

Try saying these words, which Joe and I have to reference often: Balgowlah. Barangaroo (actually, that ones pretty fun to say!) Kirribilli. Half the time I just avoid saying them out loud. All the slang doesn’t help. They literally abbreviate everything and it often makes no sense. As in it doesn’t come from the derivative of the original word: Esky = cooler?! 🤔 Arvo = afternoon? I digress.

6. Australians are SO kind.

I’ve never met so many strangers who go so far out of their way to help, say hello, etc. They definitely make you feel welcomed. Even the bus drivers are cheerful. Back at home people keep to themselves so much more. In general, people are so friendly and laid back. It’s a nice cultural stereotype that’s true.

7. People live at home until absurd ages.

Maybe it’s the cost of living here or something, but it seems like most Australians that I’ve met live at home until they are 26 or 27. Sorry mom & dad, but no thanks. I think it stems from the fact that Australians don’t “go away to college” which is a natural coming of age decision back in the states. My coworker asked me why I would pay to go away and live somewhere else for college. I told her: “google UCSB.” They don’t understand the college experience in its totality in the US. Here, “uni” isn’t a party scene, college sports aren’t a thing, they definitely don’t have sororities. They go to “university” as they call it to study then go home (to their parents house!!) — that’s it. And most people don’t pay six figures to go to university. Probably smarter actually... I could have probably focused just on school a bit more. Or a lot more... Nah, experiences what we live for. 😍

8. Spare change is valuable.

I hate change. I typically leave it in the tip jar wherever I’m at when I get it. Change is a good idea in theory, but then you’re too lazy or forgetful to actually use it. Here, change is actually worth something. The coins are $1 or $2 so I actually keep them. Although, the $0.50 coins are bigger than the size of a silver dollar, which just annoys me. They are so heavy. The heaviness isn’t even worth the hassle. But I’ll definitely be holding onto my change here.

9. There’s pretty much copy cat apps of all the apps in SF.

Coming from Silicon Valley we’ve seen it all in terms of apps to make your life easier. Our first Airbnb host was telling us all about these amazing new companies and we tried to act excited, but sorry dude - old news! GoGet is the same as GetAround. Airtasker... Task Rabbit. Shippit... Shyp. It’s all same same but different. Maybe a fast follower app should be my next big idea!! What’s really different (and depressing) for me is the fact that they don’t have Amazon Prime & Amazon in general pretty much is shipping from the US, so costs a ton and you can’t really use it. Also, the Netflix shows are different. We only have the British version of The Office. 😫

10. Everything really is backwards.

I feel like I’m going to get hit by a car walking across the street everyday. I never know which way to look! At home it’s left, right, left. Here is the opposite. I just look back and forth like 20 times to be sure. I was on the escalator in a train station recently and felt like I was going to get trampled because their train stations are BUSY. CBD (downtown Sydney) reminds me of NYC with the amount of people, hustle & bustle, and size of the buildings. So, at rush hour you can imagine how many people were frustrated with me when I stood to the right on the escalator. I thought I was on the stand in place side, but I was actually was blocking all the people trying to walk up on the fast side! The other day I was walking and came up to a woman — we did that awkward try to pick a side stammer to avoid and pass each other and we both went my direction of right. Turns out she was actually trying to stay left (the right way here) and realized I was probably some foreigner who doesn’t know the rules of the road.

Everything here is new for us, so it’s been fun getting to know this new city. We are absolutely loving it here & already falling in love with this place. If you're planning to make a move down under, here are 7 tips I wish I knew before I landed.



Next, check out my American Expats, vol 1 post: all about how, what and why we moved to Oz. Or, swing by my travel guides section for inspo for your next trip!

#australia #travel #culture


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