Monday, 12 August 2013

Same same but different

Living in Australia was very much like living in Canada but not.  The people are friendly (though Australians take friendliness to a whole new level), we love the outdoors, and our histories are somewhat similar (I think - actually don't take my word for it, I was just looking for a third thing to finish of that sentence).  But though we speak the same language, are a part of the commonwealth and have a high immigrant population (particularly in the urban areas), there are things that set us apart.  The weather for one but that's easy.

When I moved to Australia there were a number of things I had to get used to.  For one, they drove on the other side of the road.  Not a big deal since I didn't really drive - I just had to get used to looking the other way first when crossing the road.  (I can't actually tell you if it was right or left because I can't tell the difference in my head and have to go through a convoluted physical process of figuring out right from left which is impossible to do and type at the same time - but that's a post for another day perhaps). 

Anyway, there were things I had to get used to.  For one, instead of "How are you?" or "How's it going?" or "How are you doing?" they said, "How're you going?" to which I almost replied "on foot" on more than one occasion.  I was chatting once with another mum.  Both of us pushing our prams.  She was pregnant at the time and was asking me how it was with two children.  "How do you go with them?"she asked.  (How do I go with them?  Where?)  "Oh I just use the double stroller" I replied, a little confused.  Well you can see how that went.  We speak the same freakin' language and yet...

There were differences that I quite liked - they put sauce on pizza (in addition to the base sauce in case you were wondering if we don't put sauce on ours), they put rocket on pizza (which I love!), they call rocket, rocket (as opposed to arugula which is more difficult to spell), their love mom&pop type cafes (Starbucks closed up shop in Sydney which I think says a lot?), there was always poached eggs on the breakfast menus (and they were always done well - as opposed to well-done) and of course the banana bread.  They toasted it.  Once you've had toasted banana bread (with butter if you're feeling particularly indulgent) you really can't go back.  Well you can but it's not the same.

It's funny how when you move somewhere the differences are so apparent and then you get used to them. And when you get back you wonder why we don't do it that way.  We complained bitterly (ok not quite that much) while we were there that all four wheels on their shopping trolleys swivel.  Over here it's just the front two that swivel, the back two just go backwards and forwards.  When all four swivel, it can be difficult to navigate.  Until you're stuck between two stopped trolleys and decide that going sideways is the only way out.  Then the four swivelling wheels are something you remember fondly.

Same same but different was the name of a hotel that we saw in Thailand.  We didn't stay there but we loved the name.  It's a phrase we use often in my house.  Same same but different.  It's the way things are sometimes.


  1. Thanks for your post, As a Canadian who has travelled widely but has never visited Australia, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the differences between Canada and the Land Down Under. One day I hope to visit that beautiful land and enjoy the weather! It will help that I will now understand "How are you going?" That phrase is something I never knew about Australian culture!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading.