Halfway through my semester abroad at the University of Sydney, I decided to permanently transfer and finish my undergraduate degree there. I was twenty-one years old, and quite frankly put very little thought into this decision. USyd has a fantastic Psychology program, a field I’d been practically addicted to since my humble beginnings as an AP Psychology student in high school, and this was my primary reason for the transfer. But, on top of that, I’d also be able to stay in Australia for an indefinite amount of time, and there was an irresistible Australian stud muffin in my sights (spoiler: we are now in the most incredible committed relationship I could imagine). That was about all the thought that went into my decision to permanently move across the globe. Luckily, my parents have always encouraged me and my siblings to travel and grab life by the balls, so they were totally on board. Plus, they now had a reason to visit this glorious country. The day I got my acceptance letter from University of Sydney, that was it. San Francisco be damned, I was moving to Australia.
It has been three-and-a-half months since I permanently moved to Sydney, nine-and-a-half months if you include my time when I was a mere study abroad student. I absolutely love living here, but hot damn there are some things that no one preps you for. Now, I’ll admit that there aren’t many cultural differences when moving from American to Australia, but it really comes down to the one million little reminders that I no longer live in the Golden State— some of them good, and some downright annoying.
1. Everything is one day behind
One day, you’ll wake up and your newsfeed will be exploding with pictures of everyone and their sibling, because apparently it’s National Sibling Day… in America. If you post anything now, you’ll know in your gut that you’re one day late. You’ll have to alter your TV schedule, as well. Look forward to Parks and Rec on Thursdays? Not anymore. Now it’s Fridays.
2. Mexican food just isn’t the same
While Guzman y Gomez is a decent substitute for Chipotle, those underrated taquerias from the Mission District no longer exist. You’ll have to wait for your next trip to The States for truly mouth-watering Mexican food. This goes for Chinese food, too.
3. Your accent never gets old
People will forever be asking you to say words like “aluminium” and “basil” because all of a sudden, you have an exotic voice that could make a black panther purr.
4. Your Netflix account will not work
…Unless you install a sketchy app that tricks your laptop into thinking it’s in America. Otherwise, Netflix is dunzo.
5. Not all of your friendships are going to make it
Unfortunately, you can’t stay in touch with everyone; I don’t have to tell you this. Moving across the globe undoubtedly shows you where your closest bonds are, and while it gets annoying schedule Skype calls around such a drastic time zone (sometimes you just have to bite the bullet at schedule a 6am Skype date because that’s the only time that works), these people are the most salient piece of home you have until you go back. No matter how annoying it is, keep Skyping those closest to you.
6. If you work here, you already have a retirement fund
Let’s forget for a moment that Australia already pays their employees extremely well. If you work here, you need to open up a superannuation fund (retirement account in Yankee speak). For each pay check, an additional 9% is contributed by your employer to the superannuation fund, and you’re not allowed to touch that money until you either A) retire or B) permanently leave Australia. This means that I’m in my early twenties and already have money put away for the year 2060. So, yeah.
7. The seasons are disorienting
Despite the common belief that it feels like summer in OZ all year round, many places such as Sydney actually go through all four seasons. They just occur at the opposite time of year. We’re well into autumn (not “fall”) at the moment, and the boots and sweaters and warm drinks make me feel like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are coming up. Also, my October birthday is now considered to take place during the springtime. Major identity crisis.
8. If a public holiday is on a weekend, you get the closest weekday off
Since Easter falls on a Sunday, it wouldn’t be fair for the Australians to celebrate and not also receive one workday off, right? So, the government gives you Monday as a holiday. This happens for every public holiday that falls on a weekend. Need I say more?
9. You’ll adopt a “can’t be bothered” attitude
Australians absolutely live up to their stereotype of preferring a laissez-faire lifestyle. In fact, they even have a phrase for this: “can’t be bothered.” Can’t be bothered to continue studying, put pants on today, whatever. This aspect of their culture especially resonates with my lazy girl days, but instead of being “lazy,” I’m assimilating to my new culture.