17 December 2012

20 Mar
Sydney is, so far, exactly what I thought it would be: the buildings tall, cultures multiple, public transport excellent and expenses high. Confusingly, it carries itself like a capital city; so packed with tourists and their provisions that it probably reflects very little of Australia proper.
It feels empty. Not in an uncluttered or vacuous kind of way, but in a blank page kind of way, which makes it a pretty exciting place to be.
The Australians, however, have not succumb to my expectations. They are easy going, friendly and cheerful, yes, but (and I say these words very gingerly), they aren’t anywhere near as bumptious as I imagined. In fact, they’re quite nice.
Of course, the best bit is the language. It makes life so straightforward. And they like the English! Actually like us! Perhaps after France I am easily pleased, but it makes setting up so painless.
Me: I’d like to set up a bank account please.
Assistant: Pardonner, je ne parle pas anglais.
Me: Compte de banque, s’il vous plait?
Assistant: (blank face). Je ne comprends pas ce que vous dites.
Me: Anglais? Personne?
Assistant: Non. Peut-être un lundi.
Me: D’accord. J’ai retourner lundi.
Assistant: Er… La banque est fermé le lundi.
Me: I’d like to set up a bank account please.
Assistant: OK, sure.
* Please note, for the purposes of this conversation, I used Google Translate for the assistant’s lines. It is, at best, a loose translation, having also reduced the many ‘ums’, frantic gesticulating and pleas for help that ran alongside this short encounter.
The only thing is, I don’t feel upside down.
I thought, what with being on the other side of the world, that things might be a bit topsy turvy. But it’s probably as close as you could get to home from 10,552 miles away. The Queen’s face is splashed all over the money, cars occupy the left side of the road, there is a Prime Minister, they’re part of the Commonwealth… the list goes on. The other day I bought pie and mash after a night out, and there are British place names everywhere. My train line into Sydney passes through Croydon and Lewisham, and there are scores of others dotted about: Liverpool, Cheltenham, Cardiff, Exeter, Canterbury, Exeter, Newcastle, Regents Park, Hyde park… again, the list goes on.
How have I travelled 10,580.85 miles to live in a place that when typed into Google Maps, gives me a location 11.2 miles from High Wycombe?
Sydney also fiercely emulates America, so they would say say ‘freeway’, not ‘motorway’, but ‘toilets’, not ‘restrooms’. There are fast food restaurants everywhere and overwhelming American media influence. I see it mainly in the plastic optimism of their advertising. Every sentence ends in an exclamation mark and up-sell is persuaded through remarks such as ‘what more could you ask for!’ and ‘this is everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and more!’ The other day I saw a TV advert with the byline, ‘professional looking personalised Christmas cards will guarantee you love.’

Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


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3 responses to “17 December 2012

  1. Anna

    July 21, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I’m glad I found your blog and enjoyed reading some of your posts. I arrived in Australia about a month ago. I’m working in a pub in Queensland but wanting to find work with horses. Would you mind giving me any advice on how you found your job and how are you enjoying it? 🙂

    • exploricens

      July 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Thanks! I work in horse racing so can only really advise on that. You usually, but not always, have to have experience working with horses to get a job on the ground. If you can ride you can be considered for track work, which is what I do. I love my job – it’s adrenaline fuelled, always challenging, always interesting. Jobs are advertised on; expect early mornings and weekend work.

      As far as I know you can also work as a jillaroo (cowgirl? I think?) at cattle stations, where you ride horses to muster the cattle, and I don’t think you need experience for that.

      Hope that helps!

      • Anna

        July 22, 2013 at 11:39 am

        Thanks, yes I owned horses before so could do track work or being a Jillaroo would be a fun ‘aussie experience.’ Glad to hear you are loving your job and thanks for that link. I can’t wait to get back into the saddle but going to wait a month or two until it gets warmer though as most of the jobs seem to be in chilly NSW or Victoria!


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