17 things I learned when I crossed the ditch from NZ
Like many other Kiwis, I made the leap across the ditch to Australia with the nagging suspicion it was time for a change. Change isn’t easy. And leaving my comfort zone turned out to be the toughest yet most rewarding thing I’ve ever done – even if it was just a jump over the Tasman.
I must admit, my experience with Aus before the move was brief. It was a combination of a week-long holiday to Brisbane, years of watching Home and Away before I sat down to dinner and a raging obsession with Hamish and Andy. So, the land of Chris Hemsworth beckoned with sunny promise, and I hopped on a flight with a twinkle in my eye and jandals on my feet.
Here are some truths I learned moving from NZ to Australia, just in case you were thinking of joining me.
1. Some Aussies find the accent hard to fathom
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Us Kiwis have a different accent – crazy I know. It’s like we’re from a different country or something (weird?!?). I know you find our accent entertaining, but I will not say ‘fish and chips’, and you’re lame for asking.
2. Aussies also find it hard to understand the slang: I’ll translate
Togs = bathers and jandals = thongs. An IGA or corner store in Australia is a dairy in NZ. Need to chill your drinks? We do it in a chilly bin (it’s an actual cold bin, it makes sense) while Australians put their bevvies in an esky. In some cases, our speech sounds a bit rude. Just get us to say deck. You’ll get it.
3. Moving over is relatively easy to do
There are no visas, or restrictions on work hours or a requirement to do regional work. We are entitled to Medicare and can study as a domestic student if we so choose. Just no student loans or Centrelink.
4. We’re all friends until sport is mentioned
I wouldn’t even bother going into work if Aus and NZ played against each other in rugby or netball the night before and we lost. The ridicule just wouldn’t be worth it.
5. There’s Australian cold and then there’s NZ cold
Where I’m from in the deep south, it’s pretty normal to enter minus degrees overnight. You feel that in your bones people. IN YOUR BONES.
6. Babes, babes everywhere
Before moving here, I swear 80 per cent of the people I followed on the ‘gram were Aussies. It’s like you guys breed babes. What’s in the water and can I plz have some?
7. You’ll get used to the humidity
My skin became oily, and my hair became poofy. Like full on Monica Gellar “It’s the humidity!” hair. Turns out even if the state’s not that humid, (I’ve lived in South Australia and Victoria) it’s humid compared to what I’m used to.
8. You may accidentally adopt the twang
Don’t worry, you’ll soon be told the moment you call home.
9. There’s this thing called ‘hard rubbish day’
Basically, it’s a free-for-all where people leave the stuff they don’t want on their curb and you can take whatever you want. Some may call it recycling, I call it I-spend-too-much-money-on-coffee-and-have-no-choice. Rolls off the tongue, right?
10. People assume that as a Kiwi, you’ve met every other Kiwi in existence
AKA Liz from your Contiki tour, or the Caroline you hooked up with on your ski trip to Queenstown. Or Lorde. Really?! LORDE?
11. In a country of immigrants, being a Kiwi isn’t that exotic or exciting
But it means there’s a heap of foreign friends to commiserate your homesickness with over a drink or five. And if you are feeling especially homesick around a Coles, there’s a Kiwi section dedicated to us. I’m talking L&P’s, Cookie Time cookies, onion dip and Mallow Puffs galore.
12. It’s only around three hours to fly home
That’s literally shorter than your average trip down the Great Ocean Road.
13. It’s not all snakes and spiders and sharks
But occasionally a Huntsman spider will join you for dinner and you have to let it happen.
14. You need to carry cash
Cafes and restaurants are weird about their Eftpos minimums and splitting bills. If you ask, they’ll act like you’ve just murdered someone. It’s just too big of an ask.
15. Public transport etiquette is something you’ll learn quickly
Wearing a backpack? You better put it on the ground stat. And maybe reconsider opening that can of tuna on a packed tram.
16. Crucial relationships must be re-formed
When you’re in your 20s looking to make new friends, it can sometimes be a bit tricky. Friendship groups are already formed and weekends are well and truly booked out (for months in advance). The trick is to suss out friend potential and then stalk them on social media and slowly become them, Single White Female style.
17. A sure-fire way to pick a Kiwi?
The Karen Walker runaway girl necklace – it’s part of our national uniform. Get chatting with someone wearing one of these, and you can be sure they’re from the homeland.
So, is the grass greener? There’s certainly no place like home.
But sometimes you need to pull yourself out of the place you’ve lived your whole life and make a change. Immerse yourself in creative energy. Live in a place of diversity. Dive head first into museums, art galleries and culture. And one day you’ll find yourself smiling, walking down a street filled with music and people. And you’ll know, this is exactly where you are supposed to be.
Follow my journey navigating the complexities of Australian life here.