Sunday, May 22, 2011

Isa-chan's Quickie Guide to Australia (plus a leetle update)

Since Isa's been stressed out with even getting to Australia for her internship, here's a little guide to Australian culture so she doesn't have to worry about learning that before she gets here. ^_^


I read a lot of this site before I came but here are a few things I’ve noticed as well.

Isa-darling, get used to sprinkling your words with superfluous ‘u’s like “flavour” and “colour” as well as replacing ‘z’s with ‘s’s as in “realise”. Speaking of ‘z’s, the letter is pronounced “zed” instead of “zee”, but, as one Aussie told me, most people will understand if you say “zee” since they grew up with Sesame Street as well.

You can start to get an Aussie accent if you shorten words (l already explained mozzie, jelly, and blowie) and elongate your vowels (girl becomes “guuhel”, law becomes “loar”, and no becomes “nuurwa”). Now, Perth accents are a bit closer to British accents (there’s some starling number of British pensioners, i.e. retirees, in Perth), so you might encounter some stronger accents in Melbourne. I found that it’s easier to understand people if I zone out just a teensy bit and let what someone is saying just..... come to me sorta, instead of listening intently to their words (just like in Pocahontas! :P).

Unfortunately, slang is important to pick up on, but the Eastern States will likely have different slang from Perth (or so I’m told) and we’re at a disadvantage anyway since Aussies watch American television and know most of our slang already; so we won’t be able to be mystifying back at them (stupid “How I Met Your Mother” spoiling all our hilarious idiosyncrasies).  However, there do seem to be a few important national phrases:

Have a go =give something a try. This is used everywhere, and is psychologically important since Aussie generally consider themselves open-minded, and always willing to have a go at something new.

A fair go =a fair chance. Another psychologically-important phrase, related to Aussies sense of egalitarianism, ie, everyone deserves a fair go.

Stuff up =screw up. As in, don’t stuff up your uni work. ;p

Speaking of uni, from the way profs talk, it seems lots of people “can’t be bothered” to do the work, but we know you aren’t in that category.

Uni =university. School is only high school or primary (elementary) school here, and college is different from university as well, so be sure you tell people you’re a uni student.

Tall Poppy Syndrome =a bit like the Japanese “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down”, only less about other people “hammering” you and more about self-consciously not wanting to stand up above the rest. Which is probably a bit related to the egalitarian thing.

Good onya =good job/good for you (this confused me the first few times I heard it; good on me? What, do I have something on my shirt?).

Arvo =afternoon. Which is a good time to take the esky (=cooler) filled with coldies (=beers) to the beach to have a swim. ^_^

Finally, use the word “bit” to replace “part” (as in: “I liked the bit in the movie where the angsty kid smashes the bully with a bottle”), “jumper” instead of “jacket”, and “toilet” instead of all the euphemisms we have to avoid saying the word toilet. Seriously, Americans do not use the word toilet; we say we’re going to the “restroom” or the “ladies” or to “powder our noses” or simply “be right back”. I have to fight back a blush every time an Aussie just casually says the word toilet…..

There are four animals that you can kill anywhere, anytime, and not get reprimanded for it (in fact, you probably would be praised): cane toads, rabbits, feral cats and foxes.
This animation on cane toads (here’s a Queensland accent) is a hilarious illustration. Cane toads, besides being way ugly, pretty much kill everything in the vicinity because they’re so poisonous. Seriously, it is your DUTY to kill cane toads on sight. I heard someone say “the only good cat is a dead one” and hardly anyone thinks rabbits are cute. Rabbits are awful because they just eat everything in the vicinity, leaving no food for anything else (see the movie Rabbit Proof Fence). Instead of Easter Bunny chocolates, some stores had Easter Bilbies because they’re “more Australian”.
Feral cats and foxes (introduced to try to kill all the rabbits) kill all the native species, which are mostly cute, furry little marsupials that aren’t evolved to defend themselves from such sharp-toothed creatures, since Australia doesn’t really have many natural predators. I mean, we love our kitties not least because they’re rather precious creatures.  if they were to get outside at our house they’d be eaten by any number of animals: dogs, coyotes, pole cats, bears, owls, hawks, rattlesnakes, etc, etc, etc….. Plus, cats eat all the bad little mammals like mice and rats (and sometimes gophers if they’re very hunter-some outdoor cats).

Australians and America
As far as I can tell, ALL Aussies want to visit New York City. The rest of the U.S. can go play with its cornfields, cuz NYC is where it’s at, man.

Rather a few Aussies think New Mexico must be part of the South. Understandable, really, so get used to explaining this one Isa dear.  However, other Aussies have a better idea of US geography than I do, which is embarrassing. >_<;;

Aussies think Southern Drawls are sexy. I would be able to see the appeal except the only real drawl I’ve heard in a while is the North Carolinan girl in my Australian Culture class, and she’s an idiot; a drawl is not attractive when accompanied by “likes” and “ums” and general obliviousness. So it makes me cringe majorly whenever she talks, but thankfully that torture has ended.

The most annoying one I’ve heard though is “Why don’t you sound like an American?” …… Um. What does an American sound like? “Oh you know….*bad approximation of a Southern/hillbilly/yokel accent*” ……. O.e *eye twitch* So Isa-love, good luck not giving people your evil-cat-is-most-displeased-look when this happens (you know exactly the face I’m referring to, don’t pretend you don’t), because APPARENTLY this is the impression people get of America. Despite the fact that I don’t know a single current tv show or movie where anyone talks like that, except maybe Brad Pitt in Inglorious Bastards but still. I’ve just started telling people I have a Canadian accent before they make me want to jump off a cliff.

There are a few things Aussies may know New Mexico from:
Bugs Bunny (“I shoulda taken a left tern at Albaquirky! *goes bull fighting in Mexico*”)
The TV show "Breaking Bad"(NM: The Land of Meth-Addicts.....)
Weird Al or Neil Young songs
If those don’t ring any bells, you can talk about our location (North of Mexico, South of Colorado, West of Texas and East of Arizona, though I got a lot of “so it’s near California?” responses…..) or how many recent movies have been filmed in Albuquerque.

So Isa my love, hope that helps a bit! Don’t worry, the other thing I’ve noticed is that most Aussies are really incredibly nice and helpful, especially to us silly Americans. And if all else fails, I’m fairly sure there are enough Japanese-speakers for you to make friends that way. ;p

As for this past week, being of drinking age is awesome. My friend Ben (who I met at the quiz night who’s going to roadtrip America next year, not the Ben I met at Unisfa) took me to several fabulous bars in the cbd Thursday night (no uni Friday, whoo!).
Study abroad: leaving me poorer than dirt.
Waking up still a little tipsy on a rainy Friday morning where you don’t have to leave your house and realizing you drunk texted your mother on the other side of the planet: priceless. :D

Friday night I got to share the awesomeness of Sunshine Cleaning and Firefly with D after making green chili chicken stew! Om nom nom.  I also ghetto-rigged some pico de gallo (couldn’t find any cilantro, but we can steal fresh lemons from the neighbor’s tree behind us!) which was exciting.

Saturday I got to work and went up to the 6th floor as usual, only to discover as soon as I’d relieved my coworker Yvette that an entire tour group was suddenly staring at me expecting, you know, a tour. o_o After I babbled for a minute about the architecture and the views, I paused for breath and the tour guide began translating! Exciting. I’m pretty sure it was Swedish from having heard this song (I can only hope I'm half as cool as these guys one day) and watched this movie (which is Swedish with subtitles, and totally Not Safe For Work). Working at the Bell Tower was the luckiest thing to have happened to me in Australia. ^_^

Lastly, I hate 75% of my classes with a dull, sluggish rage. If this is what "highly ranked" schools are like, they can go fuck themselves, because they can't teach and just make me want to run far away. Thank god for the comm class or I'd have truly given up. *stomps off to go smash things*

1 comment:

  1. This comment doesn't have much to do with this post (as it is directed more towards Isabel :P), but I did happen to notice that in your voting poll thingy-ma-jigger, you said Eh! Just figured I would point out... How Canadian of you! Much Love.