When you’re living in paradise, it’s easy to make new favourite memories and leave thoughts of your past life behind. But take it from me, as someone who doesn’t often get nostalgic for the wintery wonderland of Great Britain, there are some things that the Aussies just don’t do quite the same.
Here’s a list of the things I, and most Brits I’ve met, miss most about the UK.
It seems trivial, but those with a hankering for a good old chunk of Dairy Milk or Galaxy will find themselves just short of satisfied. Cadbury’s chocolate is available all over the country but something isn’t quite right! After a while you forget about that sweet creamy taste of home then a brown paper package all tied up with string arrives from 12,000 miles away. Your seasonal care package has, amongst other homely treasure, a bar of Dairy Milk. One bite in, you’re wondering why you ever left the wet isle – yes, it really does taste that much better – and suddenly it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Which leads me onto my next point…
2. The festive season
DECK THE HALLS WITH BOUGHS OF…….oh…wait…we’re not decking any halls with any holly. Australia just don’t do Christmas the same way Britain does. Chatting to European friends, also mourning that Christmas feeling, there seems to be a general consensus that the weather has a big part to play in this. There is something about dusting off your first woolly jumper of the season that gets you in the mood for serious list-making, packed-out shops and reams of wrapping paper. Throw in a dash of cinnamon and a glass/bottle/jug/cauldron of mulled wine and a toe-tappingly-cheesy-tune or two and you’ll forget that it’s October and probably a bit too early to be getting into the spirit (cabinet). Even if you have the nicest Christmas Day, roast dinner with all the trimmings, a stocking, an afternoon nap and a bit too much Bailey’s, without the build up, it doesn’t have the same magic that Blighty brings.
3. Doing it on the cheap
When you’re penny-pinching, the UK offers up all sorts of value options that I really think are taken for granted. Being a recent graduate, the pain of poverty is still fresh. Oh Tesco Value pasta, you only cost me 38p, you might have the texture cardboard, but you fill my hungry student tummy and with enough tomato sauce, I’m sure you’ll taste like a gourmet meal. Australia. Is. Expensive. People told me this before I came out here, it was one of the first things people would say about this giant country, along with ‘BUT THE BUGS AND SPIDERS AND SNAKES! AREN’T YOU SCARED OF DYING?!’ (thanks for that by the way), but I naively thought that because wages are so much better, it would even out. To some extent it does, but even if i earn twice as much here, a quick trip to the supermarket for a few bits and bobs can mount up to $100+ whereas at home I’ve been known to pop out with twenty quid in my purse and come back with two weeks worth of food. It doesn’t quite break even.
This goes for other things like getting your hair done, DVDs, meal deals. Lunch rarely costs less than $10 (£6) and if you find a hair cut and colour for less than $200 (£110) you’re onto a winner.
Although of course, you could argue that quality should always come over quantity and that the moral price to pay for cheaper goods outweighs the financial saving. But sometimes students can’t be choosers.
Blighty loves boozing. We’re known for it. After being in Aus for a while, I think its partly a cultural attitude and habit, but also because it’s so readily available. You need a bottle of wine? There’s a Spar down the road. Gone out to get bread and realise you’re low on vodka (based on true events), no matter which shop you’re in, there’s bound to be a liquor/beer section. In Oz, they don’t sell booze in convenience stores or supermarkets, you have to find a specialised bottle shop or liquor store. While these are easy to come by in the CBD (Central Business District) or other busy areas, sometimes you have to embark on a nightime hike to find one and, heartbreakingly, they’ve often closed about 7 or 8pm at which point you’ve sobered up from the walk and are now frustrated, miles away from the party and completely dry (also based on true events. Not that I’m bitter…)
My guilty pleasure is daytimes TV. You can’t beat a bit of Jeremy Kyle or Real Housewives Of Somewhere In America if you ask me. Australian TV is made up of terrible 90s reruns, adverts that belong in the 80s that show every ten minutes and Australian versions of British or American shows like The Bachelor, Britains Got Talent or The X-Factor. Unless you can afford to splash out on Seasons 1-5 of Breaking Bad (do it do it do it) you’ll be television-poor for your Aussie adventure. Nevermind. The library has become my new best friend, so I suppose it’s not all bad!
6. Bus Manners
People do not stand up for the elderly, injured, wheelchair uses or pregnant passengers without a) being prompted and/or b) heaving a big sigh and giving you a sideways glance as if to say ‘How dare you require the space I’m inhabiting. I’m wearing a fancy suit, goddamn it!’ Sydneysiders aren’t known for their friendliness in general but buses are where their rudeness really does shine. On the flip-side, their public transport is pretty great. If only you didn’t have to share it with other passengers…
Although there are seasons in this lovely land, especially in Melbourne, they’re not the same as back at home. Although we constantly complain about the rain/snow/wind, I for one love rooting out my favourite winter coat and layering up with pretty scarves, cute mittens and a pair of well-worn wellies.
They do, however, do some things brilliantly. Why not have a read of my post ‘Spot The Difference: UK vs. Aus’ for my favourite Down-Under differences.