It was sunrise when I first saw Australia. The first light of day leaking over the palm trees was the first thing I saw in Australia. It felt like a good omen, and by the time the sun was fully awake, I was already in love.
After years of dreaming, months of debating and weeks of planning, all leading up to that moment and finally realizing it was actually happening: we are doing a Working Holiday in Australia. An Australian working holiday requires that you are at least 18 years old but no more than 31 upon arrival. You can stay in Australia for up to one year and travel while doing casual work to fund your stay.
I’ve now been here for about a month, and I can already say this is the most incredible thing I’ve ever done. Living in Italy was also amazing, but it lacked the sense of adventure you get from living in Australia.
Australia is like Canada upside-down. It’s similar in general culture, shopping, and people, but it’s like someone took my homeland and everything familiar, and just shook it up a little. Like I was living one sitcom in Canada and here in Australia is the other station’s equivalent (like: How I met Your Mother vs. Happy Endings, Simpsons vs. Family Guy, etc.) Strangely familiar yet oh-so-different.
For example, their coffee culture is a totally foreign thing. In Canada, we tend to drink drip-style coffee mindlessly through the day – and Tim Horton’s is an ESSENTIAL part of our culture – whereas there don’t seem to be any major coffee chains here at all. Australians generally drink jaw-droppingly expensive espresso-style drinks like lattes and cappuccinos at a local cafe. And we’re not talking about the Pumpkin-Spice-Mint-Sugar-Syrup concoctions we call “lattes” in America, we’re talking about a basic run-of-the-mill latte for $8.
People who like coffee less than me would have mentioned this first, but they drive on the OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD. YA! I thought the UK was the only place that did that too! It took me two weeks alone to figure out where to look when crossing the street.
I didn’t expect their accents to be so difficult. Where I live currently in Cairns, there is a huge population of people from UK, which is also difficult to understand sometimes (lookin’ at you Scots), but the Australian accent varies quite considerably: from refined a English-sounding accent to more of a hick-sounding (or “bogan”) accent.
They also speak crazy fast, especially when greeting each other. And they say things just slightly differently, just enough to mess me up and ask them to repeat. For example, we say “How’s it going?” they say “How’re you going?” How am I supposed to answer that? Uh, by foot? By car?
Other life changing things I’ve discovered in Australia:
- Sunday Sessions (or “Sunday Sesh”): drinking in a social situation on Sunday, and very popular amongst the Ozzies.
- A lot like the Brits, they have nicknames for everything from “brekky” (breakfast) to “Macca’s” (McDonalds).
- They DO eat kangaroo and crocodile meat and you can just buy it in the grocery store beside the pork.
- The legendary chocolate Tim Tams. Also see: 20 Ways to Eat a Tim Tam.
- Three beautiful words: Free. Public. Barbecues. They’re everywhere, and make Australia that much more awesome.
- The Crocodile Farm (see pictures below!)
In the last few weeks, I’ve worked at a beach-side restaurant, an organic garden beside the Daintree Rainforest, a spa, vacation apartments and even a bull-riding rodeo show! To say it hasn’t been a crash-course learning experience would be a downright lie.
This life is a journey and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.