From the moment I arrived as a fresh-faced Aussie girl, I knew England was different. People think that everyone from Australia speaks the same as Alf from Home and Away, blurting out phrases like “crikey”, “flaming galah” and “throw a shrimp on the barbie”. It’s not always like that, but I still proudly use words and phrases like thong (flip flop), pants (trousers), whippersnipper (strimmer) and “far out” for the fun of it.
Travel and culture
Commuting distances are much longer, as it can generally take an hour to ‘pop’ to anywhere in London. With that said, the transport system in the UK is far better than most networks in Australia. Australians don’t come to London for beautiful beaches; we come because it’s a fantastic multicultural city with something new each day to assault the senses – what better base to explore Europe or more far-flung places. I still feel a real buzz every time I land in Europe after a one-hour flight or get off the Eurostar from London, in France. There are no budget airlines or trains to exciting overseas cities from Australia.
Opening a bank account was mission impossible. I couldn’t open an account when I arrived because I couldn’t prove my address with a utility bill. I couldn’t convince an estate agent to let me lease a house because I didn’t have a bank account. It was a never-ending circle and, as a British citizen of dual nationality, I was too stubborn to pay £20 to get a company like First Contact to help me.
Food & drink
Giving up Vegemite was tough, but I’d recommend that anyone give Marmite a chance. I’d always understood that there’s a special rivalry between Australia and England, but I wasn’t prepared for how fierce it could get. For a nation of passionate sporting fans, I expected the pubs to close a little later! My first trip to a local pub started at 22.30 and ended abruptly at 23.00 (this was back in 2005).
I love an English summer, there’s something magical about it – getting your legs out at the first hint of warmth; the smell of freshly-cut grass in any of London’s fabulous parks; only getting dark at 22.30 and the general feeling of joy that fills the air when winter is finally behind us. Equally, I love an English winter – crisp mornings, snuggling up in scarves, hats and jumpers, mulled wine, ice-skating and some of the best ski resorts only a short plane ride away… sorry Australia, I seem to have been converted.