Aussie Living in America

I get asked a lot what is it like being an Aussie living in America, it’s hard to answer that in 1 sentence because it’s actually quite a long extensive answer. So rather than just answering with “Yeh it’s different, but cool”, here are some of the truth’s.

Well for those that play in both W-League and NWSL, they would know it’s a fairly quick turn around at the conclusion of the W-League season. For me moving from Melbourne back to Sydney, which was an interesting 10-hr road trip just recently with my Mum, starting off with her missing the turn off with the big sign saying “Sydney”, but that’s a story for another day. Then arriving home, unpacking to repack for the next 8 months of the year in 2 suitcases, with not much more than a 3 day turn around to organise life to move once again to the other side of the world.
My Mum’s house is basically my own personal storage unit, it’s a constant joke amongst my family about the amount of S#!T I have just sitting there, from unpacking what I’ve accumulated in the time of the previous season (Melbourne), to repacking to move to the next destination (Houston).
When I speak to Mum on the phone and tell her something new I’ve bought over here, the amount of times she responds with “Kyahhh you don’t need that, you’ve got something identical here at home”, I’ve lost count. Well if only it were as easy as ducking around the corner and picking it up.
But there is a real struggle to packing your life up for that long, to be cut throat with not taking 15 similar BUT DIFFERENT black T-Shirts, Denim Jackets – blue denim, black denim, grey denim, my Leather Jacket (I learnt from last year that it just needs to stay home, especially coming to Houston where the only place that would be suitable to wear it, would be in my apartment because it’s WAYYYY too hot to wear outside). Then Shoes – that is one of the hardest decisions to make in the packing process, between boots, runners, lifestyle, casual, slides, and heels – that I always pack as a “just in case” and never end up wearing. Shoes and clothes alone take up 2/3’s of the room in your suitcases, then you think you’re cruising but you forget to account for electronics, toiletries, aussie goodies and the annoying bits and pieces you think will fit in the tinniest corner of your bag. At the same time trying to keep the weight under 23KG’s a bag and asking your family members to lift them up and guess if you’re “over or under”.

Once you’ve unpacked and repacked your life, do the once a year family catch up/going away dinner in 1, squeezed in as many coffee dates with friends as possible (and the ones you didn’t even get around to seeing), then needing to get your hair, nails and facial done before you leave, and lastly give yourself just 1 day where you can relax and head down to the beach, all in those few days you have before your flight. It’s a crazy time, but for us that do W-League and NWSL it’s the norm and something we’ve become accustomed to, as have our family and friends.

My first year playing in America was 2012, as a young 20 year old it was daunting but exciting and there were a few lessons I learnt. Mainly in terms of living in a different country and things Aussies have to readjust to. Here they are:

• Drivers seat being on the opposite side and driving on the opposite side of the road – It’s nerve racking that’s for sure, driving is one of those things we find ourselves in autopilot a lot of the time, but let me tell you.. doing it on the other side of the road is a whole different ball game. It brings back fond memories of being on your Learners License, so careful, not confident and anxious all over again. Thinking you’re always doing the wrong thing and that experienced driver that is driving up your backside, is 1 second away from honking at you and bringing all the attention to the foreign driver (you) just when you weren’t nervous enough. You suddenly forget that you’ve been driving confidentially for the past however many years (just in another country). But you stick with it because that’s your way of getting around, it’s an adjustment but you get the hang of it after a week or so – it does continue to get easier after the first time trust me. But there are lapses of concentration at times; you second-guess yourself if you’ve turned on the right or wrong side of the road. I’ve lost count of the amount of times auto pilot takes over and I’ve STILL gone to jump in the passenger’s side when I’m the one who’s driving. I did it just the other day – walked to my passenger side back door to put my bag in, then just as I went to pull the handle of the “driver’s door”, I realized there was no steering wheel on that side. Before I looked like a complete idiot sitting in the passengers seat ready to “drive”, I subtly walked around to the correct driver’s door hoping no one had noticed. Sometimes you just have to have a laugh at yourself when you do things like that, especially if no one else is around to laugh at or with you.

When people say there’s no language barrier between Australia and America, let me tell you they couldn’t be more wrong. I don’t think you realise as an Aussie at how much our language is shortened, lazy slang, sometimes made up words that we think are normal to the rest of the world. Here are some Aussie words, with their American translation:

• Hoodie – Sweat shirt
• Jumper – Sweater
• Trackies – Sweat pants
• Sunnies – Sunglasses
• Boots – Cleats
• Arvo – Afternoon
• Brekkie – Breakfast
• Maccas – Mcdonalds
• Swimmers – Bathing suit
• G String – Thong
• Potato Gems – Tater Tots
• Chips – Fries
• Chips – Chips
• Fairy floss – Cotton Candy
• Prawn – Shrimp
• BBQ – Grill
And just to clarify for all those American’s when they meet an aussie and say “Put a shrimp on the Barbie” in their attempted Aussie accent – WE DO NOT SAY THAT haha. I’m not sure where that came from, but firstly we call “shrimps” “prawns” and secondly we mainly put sausages on the Barbie. Anywaysss..
• Sausage Sanga – Sausage Sandwich (after cooking the Sausage on the Barbie)
• Bottle O – Liquor Store
• Scone – Biscuit
• Biscuit – Cookie
• Lollies – Candy
• Bib – Penny
• To pick the balls up after training – Shag the balls (Umm, ok)
• Bum bag – Fanny Pack (Sorry what??)
• Km’s – Miles (When your American teammates are talking about how quick someone does a suicide mile and you ask what that is in km’s so you can understand how quick that actually is).
• Meters – Feet (Just make up how far you think and you’ll be fine)
• Celsius – Fahrenheit (When you say it’s boiling hot and one of your teammates asks what the temp is and you say mid 30’s)
• How you going? – How you doing? (Who knew 3 words could bring so much confusion to 1’s face)
• Heaps – A lot (A popular Aussie filler word to elaborate how much)
• I reckon – I think (also brings lots of confusion to faces)
• Devo – Devastated

Here are some living adjustments to note:

• Accent/Sarcasm/Sense of humor – For those that don’t know, when Aussies speak we don’t really pronounce our ‘R’s’, this becomes a huge language barrier ESPECIALLY in America, because if there is one place in the world ‘R’s’ are overly pronounced correct, it would be here in the States. So I find myself over accentuating my ‘R’s’ just to save having to repeat myself or someone responding with “Sorry, what did you just say” for the 1000 time. I would also have to say I’m constantly mistaken for being serious when I’m being sarcastic and vice versa, this can also be a hit to the ego and a humour once appreciated has caused some uneasy confusion amongst peers and they’re not sure if you’re angry or joking (Something my Dash teammates can attest to). Who would have thought banter would be so hard to converse.

• Adapters – Warning don’t bring a blow dryer from Australia, Christmas will be here by the time your hair dry’s, this is because the voltage is different (Australian outlets 230 V and American outlets 120 V). You could probably get a friend to blow your hair dry quicker. So you’ll have to purchase a US hair dryer and have to give it away when you leave because it probably also wont work properly when you return home.

• Justifiable shopping – Note: 1 USD = 1.46 AUD, so that T-shirt I just bought for $80 is actually $116 back home, out of sight out of mind right. Just don’t do the conversion and you’ll be fine.

• Coffee – American’s will argue this, and I’m not just being bias but I really do believe Australia has the best coffee in the world. I guess you’ll have to go to find that one out yourself!! (One of the things I miss most about Aus).

• Brunch – Back home is a late breakfast out, with something like smashed avo and poached eggs on sourdough and coffee. Brunch in America is midday mimosas and an excuse to be drunk before mid afternoon.

• Time difference to Australia (The worst) Houston – Sydney is +15hrs difference. The only time this is good, is on your bday (you get 2 days worth of birthday wishes). But when you want to speak to people from back home, it’s either when you wake up and depending where you are you get a hr or 2 window to chat, or in the evening when people wake up back home and before you go to sleep (During prime time Netflix time might I add, so when I don’t answer my family know exactly what I’m doing).

• Watching Cable or anything in that matter – You need a different login, for a different provider for almost anything and everything you want to watch. Foreigner probs.

I do really love living in America, everyone is honestly so nice (just don’t go out in peak hour in Houston… only kidding, half). But really, every time I’ve lived over here people are super friendly and welcoming and that’s a really nice feeling to have when you’re thousands of miles (see what I did there) from home. Growing up watching movies, I never realised but they’re basically all American, so to see things you would see in movies in real life was kinda cool. American sports are crazy, knowing that what happens in college movies is actually real life, the serving sizes of food and drinks and just the lifestyle and culture are different, but it’s definitely an enjoyable experience.

I love the hot weather and getting two summers and skipping winter back home is so great! It’s also a different experience for the American’s who play in the W-League that it doesn’t snow at Christmas time, but most people actually head to the beach for the Day. I’ve never experienced a white Christmas before, so that’s something on my bucket list to do.

Well that’s my take on mixing Aussie life in America, I hope you enjoyed the read!

Ky