Yesterday, on the 30th of September 2015, I officially became an Australian citizen. It’s only taken me 9 1/2 years to finally do it. haha But I knew a month in that I would be one. For all of its flaws, Australia is a fantastic country to live, and I feel so blessed every day that I was able to move out here to be with my husband.
So to start the month off, I thought it would be only fair to share part of the reasons I love being here and why I would be so willing to swear an oath to this country.
Here are my Top Ten Reasons Why Australia Rocks:
10. The Scenery
I’ve been to three beaches since I moved to Australia. Gold Coast, Geelong, and Lorne, VIC. All had their differences, and all were beautiful in their own way. Australia is pretty well known for its beaches. Bondi Beach is the most famous. All of the major cities are just off the coast, so it is kind of hard to miss them. I’m no expert on the swimming or the surfing side of things, since I can’t swim, but I can appreciate how much they do to keep the beaches safe and gorgeous.
The same can be said about the rainforests, vineyards, reefs and desert. The island of Australia has some of the most natural beauty in the world. Though some days I can definitely take it for granted, I am always in awe of its beauty.
9. The Wildlife
It’s no surprise there are heaps of animals here that intend to eat or maim or bite you. In my 9 plus years, I have seen none outside of an enclosure. Granted, I am still conscious of it all the time. But the ones that don’t want you to die horribly are amazing. I’ve seen wallabies in the rainforest. Just bouncing past the path I was walking through. I’ve been able to pat a koala and small roo (kangaroo, for all the ‘Mericans out there), admittedly in the Australian Zoo. Tasmanian Devils are adorable. As are echidnas. Emus are interesting, as well, having a similar form to an ostrich. Also, little known trivia. The Australian Coat of Arms is an Emu and a Kangaroo. They chose these particular animals because they are the only ones in the world incapable of going backwards. A bit of irony there. haha 😉
8. The Language
Australians have a language all their own. A few gems include strewth, chockas (short for chockablock), dinkum di, Straya, grog, dag, bogan, and fully sik. Not only that, other words in the English language are different here to America too, since they take on the British counterparts of the English language. Such as a bell pepper is a capsicum, and biscuit (or bikkies) is a cookie in the US. Whereas a scone is a biscuit in the US. Names are reduced or extended with a za. So it is pretty normal to know someone named Garry that is now Gazza or Terry as Tez. Little children, girl or boy, may be called bub, but in casual conversation, it’s changed to bubby. Everyone’s darling or love/lovey, and c*nt is a term of endearment. Also, I’m a Yank, despite identifying as a Texan. I’ve given a few lessons to make sure no one says it in the deep south if they are traveling to the U.S.
My first job in Australia was working as a casual twice a week at an office for $19/hr. My last job in the US was making $12/hr in a role I did twice as much and was on top wage for that role after working there 4+ years. Minimum wage for 15 year olds here is $16/hr. Seriously, how insane is that difference? I make more than my mother does. Of course, the cost of things here is higher, but it seems to be a bit more fair here. Getting paid a fair wage for fair work is just the Australian way of life.
Aussies love their sport. Now, I’m not saying Americans don’t, but I feel like Aussies almost practice it as a religion. Footy (football – another native word haha) is the main sport, but the cricket brings the nation together. There are far more supporters of soccer here. If someone from Australia does even remotely well in a sport, such as Adam Scott, Ian Thorpe, and Cadel Evans, the whole country suddenly gets behind them and their achievements. There’s even a boxer that everyone loves to hate. Motorsport is even supported as strongly as the football teams and The Ashes (cricket) of the country.
I intentionally have AFL separate. I couldn’t not. Here is a sport that I just cannot get enough of! Officially Australian Rules Football, this is a sport that is featured as the true Australian sport, though Rugby League and Union have a stronger presence in the state I live in. AFL is a combination of kicking, tackling and passing the ball across a large football oval that has no set dimensions. It is also one of the most athletic sports I have ever seen. The teams run up and down the field for 30 minutes straight, jumping as high as another person to grab the ball and sprinting and weaving through people. Like a version of a running back with an entire team running around him trying to catch him. It’s fast-paced and full of all sorts of rules that I still haven’t gotten used to, since they seem to change a few every year. But I love it! Even more than NFL (or gridiron here). That’s a hard thing to admit being from football country in Texas.
No matter where you go, you are bound to get the best coffee at any random little cafe. Some are better than others Let’s not discount that! But I can guarantee you, you will not get a better cup in the U.S.
Starbucks tried to break out in Australia, but they had little success. After opening something like 80 stores, only 20 of them are still open now.
The flavour combinations are sometimes odd. (I’ve heard someone order a turkish delight latte.) But the essence is always there. Strong with heated milk frothed on top or not, and never watered down. You get odd looks if you ask for plain black coffee. Like you’re somehow rejecting a whole universe of possibilities, and effectively, you are!
Australians take their coffee very seriously, and now… I do too.
Australia is super multicultural. Though not everyone is as welcoming as others, I have seen how the amalgamation of all these cultures has helped to shape the country. In my citizenship swearing in, there were Brits, Filipinos, Fijians, Indians, and Chinese becoming citizens. I may have been the only American, but I found this to be rather uplifting to hear them all call out Oi! Oi! Oi! after a chorus of Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!
Many of the dinkum di (true blue) Aussies I have met have been the most laid back and casual people I’ve ever known. I can’t say that everyone is great. I deal with my fair share of unlikeables (personal made-up word ftw), but for the most part, Australians are a loyal, honest, and passionate people. And most are genuinely welcoming to me.
In the first year of moving to Australia, I gained 10kg in weight. It wasn’t necessarily because I sat on my lazy ass all day every day. It was because of the food. I ate way too much of all the things I had missed in my life. I almost seemed to have eaten my share for the 25 years of life, really.
Meat pies are as Australian as they come, but I cannot pass up a good sausage roll, pasty (pronounced pah-stee), or chicko roll. For sweet, Cadbury is a brand of chocolate all year round, though Cream Eggs are still only for Easter. Lamingtons, Anzac biscuits, Pavlova, caramel slice, and vanilla slice are like heaven in my mouth.
Of course, there are few things I don’t exactly get thrilled about like Vegemite and Golden Gaytimes and Clinkers and Violet Crumbles and Crunchies, but there are bound to be a few bombs when there are so many bangs!
Before I move on to #1, I have one honourable mention… It’s lame, and I’ll take it on the chin if anyone gives me grief about it, but my husband makes Australia amazing. He’s a dinkum di Aussie. He has a charitable nature when the mood hits him, and most importantly, he’s super supportive. He couldn’t make the list, but he’s number one for me!
Soooo the number one best thing about Australia is….
In 2011, my husband and I were one of thousands affected by the Queensland Floods. An army of volunteers spread across the areas affected. Complete strangers came out to help tear down our walls and remove the belongings from our house. There are people I will never be able to thank any more formally than the tiny bit of thanks I gave on the days following the floods. But this is the culture of Australians. If a person is in need, they are there to help pick you back up.
The most telling I had was after we had piled all of our belongings on the curbside in front of our house, I gazed upon it and the sadness overwhelmed me. This man, I had never even seen before, was driving past and saw me. He stopped his car, rolled down his window and called out to me that it was going to be ‘right. It was right. It was that man that pulled me back for a time. The sadness would overwhelm me again after that, but every time I thought of him and I became whole again. To that man, and the thousands like him across Australia, I thank you for your amazing culture. You are what makes Australia great!