On Becoming a Sydneysider

As we approach two years in Sydney, I am reminded of how far we have come as residents in this strange and wonderful land. We began our time here with annoyances and jokes about all of the differences compared to where we had lived previously. Patience and time are what is required to feel more comfortable and at home. I adore lists so I’ve created this one (with some help from my cohabitants) about what life is like now and how we have settled in.

I’ve warmed to some of the slang. I think it started with us using these words in a mocking sort of way but now they’ve become our norm. “What time does rego start?” or “Last night we watched a cool doco.” or “Get a drink from the bubbler.” and even “Let’s do it tomoz.”  Although, to be honest, we haven’t uttered one of these words to anyone outside of our home. I suppose immersion happens one step at a time.

The kids always refer to their sunglasses as sunnies and McDonalds as Maccas. Tips for tag on the playground and “I bags the front seat.” Why do they label play time at school as “lunch” and lunch time as “eating time?”

We are always shedding and culling that which no longer serves us. Ex-pat life and moving makes you re-evaluate all of your material possessions. “Do I really need this scarf, even though I have 5 more just like it?” I’ve almost nearly removed all of my winter wear. I have kept a few items as it does get cold here, and there are those Snowy Mountains.  But most of it was just sitting in a drawer taking up space. It’s easier to relax and breathe when you have less clutter around you. We choose flip flops, shorts and t-shirts instead.

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Speaking of summer clothing, I am now cold if the thermometer drops below 20c. Gasp!

I still loathe sitting in the car and having to drive as much as I do. I don’t think that will ever change. Public transportation is my preference. I now find that I’m cursing at the other drivers much more than I did when we first arrived. We were car-less for so many years in Europe and I was more at peace with other drivers then versus now…let’s just say I aim to avoid the harshest words while the kids are in the car with me. Where I can, of course!

Small spiders don’t bother me at all. I’ve always been terrified of any critter with 8 legs but now it’s only the ones that can be measured against a fist.

Speaking of insects, I am not loving communal-living but I accept that we share space with cockroaches. I know, how gross. It’s just part of life in Sydney. You can fret about it or get on with it. I choose to move forward and to have a large Tupperware container within reach to trap them with.

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Can I just say a home with a view is totally worth it? We had a view of the Cascade Mountains from our house in Seattle, I loved that. Gorgeous snow-covered mountains from every window. In the years since then we haven’t had anything close to a view until now. We have the most amazing vantage of the Sydney Harbour and I never get tired of seeing it. There is something about being near to the water, seeing it, that makes me feel so at peace. I find myself sitting on our patio several times a day for coffee, meals, reading, or entertaining. The practical side of me would never have sought out a property for a view in the past, assuming that it would never justify a higher rent. This apartment has been my favourite living space ever and it is definitely due to the view and the wonderful outdoor space to enjoy it.

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I can confidently identify four different birds by their sound without seeing them. The monkey-like kookaburra, the whining Australian crow, the chirping and at times a begging, dog-like sound of the lorikeet and the very noisy, screeching cockatoos are so distinct in each of their calls that there is really no mistaking them.

The geography of the country is becoming familiar on my mental Australia map as I can now locate and understand when people refer to Noosa, Nowra and even Broome. This one only improves with time. Road trips help too…need some more of those please.

Speaking of time, spending enough of it in one place you get to watch it grow. I recently saw new, live-feed bus stop signs in the CBD. Wow, that’s progress! Now if they could just let people know what the bus stops actually are before they stop so that passengers know when to alight, perhaps we would catch up with the rest of the civilised world.

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I love seeing this country through the eyes of visitors. It’s so different to anywhere else and it’s so wild. Marsupials, gum trees, and post card, jaw-dropping beautiful coast line. As with anything, the everyday grind blinds you to your environment if you don’t look for it. While having guests in town our senses are heightened as theirs are and we are reminded of how special and unique Australia truly is.

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I am totally onboard with the school year following the calendar year. I still feel completely behind the rest of the world when friends and I talk about our respective children and their school stuff; however, it seems to make so much more sense to follow a calendar year. The northern hemisphere should take note.

If a country decides to remove the penny from its currency, one would expect that the rates of services and materials would reflect the change and charge in increments of 5. How is it that although the penny was withdrawn from circulation in 1992, the farce of charging 99 cents continues? On top of this pet peeve, shop at an establishment that doesn’t take bank cards and the proprietor is taking one extra cent from every customer. It’s blasphemy!

We are totally spoiled with an abundance of healthy foods and an awareness of food allergies. For the most part, you don’t even have to check the menu at a restaurant before going as most places will have something suitable for the strictest of diets. The gorgeous fruits and veg on offer year-round make it feel like Christmas when you do your weekly food shop. We are so lucky in this regard because I know so much of the world does not have this luxury. When we travel now it almost always feels like we have to make do. The biggest tell is when we return home and are so thrilled to hit the market and feast on the local bounty.

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We are all grateful for sunshine most days in winter. It is definitely cold but the afternoon sun often brings the temps up to 16-22c. A completely tolerable winter situation if you ask me.

The doctors and healthcare in general are some of the best we have ever had. Granted, I speak from having a super private insurance plan which may be very different than the average Australian. Our care has been superb and it’s been a breath of fresh air after the UK. I love the NHS but private care in England is the pits. I am so grateful for all the wonderful health care providers we’ve gotten to know as they have cared for our family.

Although we’ve had our share of lonely days without our friends nearby, time spent longing for the smells of Europe and the ability to purchase short, inexpensive flights to new destinations, we’ve begun to appreciate the new smells, sounds and vistas of our new, adoptive country. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!

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