What’s Next?

*me, at the honey factory*

September is the start is spring down here in Oz, so it’s been beautifully green and lush. So, what’s next? Well, I’m still working at the honey factory. After months of riding my bicycle, which I can’t reiterate enough how much I hated, I finally caved and bought a car. It’s a silver, diesel, 2013 Ford Territory SUV. It was….an investment, but since I’ve been relatively good about my spending, and since I know I’m going to be here for a while longer I thought, why not? My only regret was not holding out for a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but oh well. I’ve only gotten my car stuck twice in the three months I’ve had it.

I moved about twenty minutes outside of Bairnsdale, so having the car became a necessity anyway. I missed the freedom of being able to go where I want, when I want. Of course at the moment I can’t do either of those things. Victoria is still in lockdown, which means I can’t leave the state, and while I have more freedom out here in the regional part as compared to Melbourne, it’s still restricting. I’ve been compiling a list of little adventures, ranging from a couple of hours to a couple of days, so I’ve been able to slowly check some destinations off.

I completed my 88 days of required farm work at the end of July, and applied for my second year work and holiday visa at the start of August. It was approved at the start of September (hooray!), so I’m officially allowed to stay in Australia until November 2021. While the honey factory is not my ideal choice of employment, it’s a job, and I don’t want to give it up until it gets too unbearable. Because there’s nowhere for me to go, I’m fine to keep building my savings up for future travels. Once restrictions ease, then I’ll decide what my next moves are. But that could be in a month, three months, or six months. No one knows.

Last year I had planned to return home to the States in July of this year for a visit, but now I’m hoping I’ll be able to go home in July 2021. I still have plenty of traveling and exploring to do, both in Australia and out, but I also miss my parents, and my friends, and Mexican food, so I will likely go home for a couple of months as soon as I can leave Australia and be allowed to return. But again, I don’t know when that’ll be. It’s daunting when I think about how trapped I am, but I’m trying to enjoy it and soak everything up while I’m here. I’ve had some lowest of the low, and highest of the high moments during the past year, but in my experience, that makes for the most memorable and enjoyable times.

And that’s just it, as November approaches, I’ve been here nearly a year. I turned 27 in October, which so far doesn’t feel much different then 26. I’ve met dozens of new people, and made lifelong friendships. I’ve found employment and housing, and relocated to multiple cities, all without knowing anyone before I got here. I’ve learned life lessons, grown to know more about myself, and given a part of my heart to a new country.

And, after a year, I still can’t do an Australian accent, but there’s plenty of words and phrases I’ve picked up on. I use some more than others, but here’s a few I’ve made a note of.

  • Crack the shits – to get mad
  • Fair dinkum – honestly, that’s the truth
  • Bloody oath – damn straight, you bet
  • Good on ya – good job
  • Wicked – cool
  • Sweet as – really good
  • Full on – intense
  • Absolute stitch up – something/someone funny
  • Flat out – really busy, full steam
  • Far out – I can’t believe it
  • Texter – sharpie
  • Heaps – loads, a lot
  • Chook – chicken
  • Choc a bloc – full, abbreviated to chockers
  • Get stuffed – f*ck off
  • Ta – thanks
  • Dear – expensive
  • Biccy – biscuit, as in chocolate biscuit had with tea, not like a bread biscuit
  • Tea – tea time but also dinner time. No one else seems to find this confusing
  • Cuppa – tea time, in the morning or arvo
  • Smoko – break time, in the morning or arvo
  • Arvo – afternoon
  • Brolly – umbrella
  • Thongs – flip flops
  • Budgy smuggler- men’s speedo
  • Dunny budgie – fly
  • Budgie – bird
  • Dunny – toilet
  • Bin chicken – white ibis birds, which you may think are beautiful and unusual creatures to see wandering about in public, but lose their charm when you see them swarming dumpsters
  • Mozzies – mosquitoes
  • Maccas – McDonald’s
  • No dramas – no worries, no problem
  • Reckon – for sure
  • Barrack for – support, root for (sports team). Don’t ask who someone roots, that’s a different question entirely
  • Servo – gas station
  • Bottle-O – liquor store
  • C*nt – term of endearment, unless it isn’t, possibly the most-used word in Australia

A lot of words are abbreviated, either by adding an ‘o’ or ‘y’ sound to the end. ‘As’ can follow any word to imply that is even more so. Your trash is rubbish and it goes in the bin. You don’t ask how someone’s doing, you ask how they’re going. Unless you want to say that something’s a little off, then you can also say “they’re a bit ‘hey how ya goin’”. The ‘r’ sound is usually turned into more of an ‘ah’ sound (textah instead of texter for marker), or disappears altogether (Melbourne pronounced ‘melbun’ and Cairns pronounced ‘cans’). Some words seem like an American hippie would be saying them, such as wicked and far out, but somehow they sound better here. I find it especially hard to understand the accents of older men. I don’t like to correct people when they mispronounce a word, but I put my foot down about ‘tortilla’ and ‘paella’. I’ve had multiple arguments with both Aussies and people from the UK, adamantly informing them that there is no hard ‘L’ sound in either of those words. Language is fascinating, because we’re all speaking English, but I’ve been in plenty of conversations where I have no idea what’s going on. I mostly nod along in agreement, rather than ask for a recap of the last five minutes.

Maybe in my next year here I’ll get the accent down. Probably not. Honestly, I don’t really notice it anymore from the people I’m around the most. Strangers certainly notice my accent, and either think I’m a reflection of the entire, current United States political climate, and should be gawked at accordingly, or ask me to repeat what I’ve said when I order food from a restaurant. Every single time. And I know Australia isn’t the most crazy cultural environment I could have thrown myself into, being not all that different from home, but it’s still interesting to see what the other side of the world looks like. With one year under my belt, I’m looking forward to year two.

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