So now that we’ve been here in Adelaide for over a week and I’m pretty much an expert on everything Australian, I thought it the perfect time to share some observations! We have found a lot of things to be quite different here than at home. Some of them have required some adjusting, and others are just down right awe-some! Here are our observations thus far:
- Smile awhile. 🙂 Nearly everyone here is friendly, courteous and helpful. And that goes double for the senior missionaries in the mission office and many of the elders, too!
- Kirkland, here I come! One of my favorite discoveries about Adelaide is that there is a COSTCO here! The snack bar food is a little different than home, but it’s still a great buy. K Mart is here, too, but it’s NOTHING like those in the U.S.- and I love it! Target is too, and I’m looking forward to checking it out soon.
- Clean and green, all the time. The grass stays green all winter here in Adelaide, and roses and many other flowers keep right on blooming. It is an extremely clean, attractive city, with less graffiti than most. The weather in August has been mainly in the 40’s, 50’s, and even into the 60’s at times.
- B-r-r-r-r! If you come to Adelaide in the winter months from a warmer climate, bring some warm clothes! I have been perpetually cold ever since I got here. A light suit type jacket just hasn’t been enough.
- Hot and cold air-con. Air conditioning is standard in homes in Adelaide, often only in a room or two, but heat is not. That includes nice hotels. I wore my winter coat indoors everywhere I went for the first 4 days I was here until it warmed up a little outside.
- It’s a toilet, not a restroom, Yank! And you’ll have to choose between half flush and full flush buttons on top of the toilets, which look very different than in the U.S. They’re much smaller, are shaped differently, and so far appear to work better.
- Come again? Regardless of whether or not you think you understand English, you will not understand much of what many native Australians say. Even after you’ve been here for days. Some native Australians won’t understand you, either!
- What is it? Australians have different names for all sorts of things. Candy of all types is a lolly, grocery carts are “trolleys,” expensive is “exy,” no problem is “no worries,” excuse me is “sorry!” cars collect in car parks instead of parking garages, and believe it or not, redheads, blue cattle dogs and jellyfish are all “Blueys.” Even tough looking motorcycle riders are called, of all things, “bikies.”
- G’day, Mite! The long vowels A and I are pronounced the same here (at least to a Yank’s ears). Might and mate are the same word, as are white, wait and weight. (I find it totally endearing.) Words ending in “er” are pronounced like a short “a.” For example, Buckner would be pronounced Buck’-nah.
- For more fun, the best online Australian slang dictionary we have found is here. Aussies may not even know some of these!
- Leafy tree tops! From what I can tell, most of the trees are different varieties of eucalyptus and keep their leaves all winter. Evergreen and deciduous trees are much less common. Palm and cypress trees dot the city and tropical plants are everywhere. It’s warm enough in Adelaide to grow citrus. I’ve seen tangerine and lime trees in yards loaded with fruit in spite of how cool it is here in August.
- Why is my cell phone not charging?!? Plug ins are all 240 volts, and each outlet has to be switched on with a little rocking switch. Wall switches have the same little buttons. I’ll bet they are a lot easier to keep clean than what we’re used to!
Largeappliances? Dishwashers are not always standard, and microwave ovens are usually not built in. Toughest of all for me, however, is that home ovens are really small. You can fit a 9 x 13 dish in them, but nothing much bigger, like a typical cookie sheet. It’s like baking in a slightly larger camper or RV oven.
- Almost Paris … There are sidewalk cafes, tables & seating for blocks and blocks downtown, and more snack shops and restaurants in this city of 1.3 million people than I’ve seen anywhere. Seriously! And they are usually full of people in the evenings, even in this cool weather. Perhaps more people eat out in the evenings instead of cooking.
- Love this! Nearly all the kitchen sinks I have seen (in over 140 apartments online-but that’s another story) are stainless steel and have an attached draining tray with it’s own drain.
No Parking. The fact that Aussies drive on the left side of the road is well known. What surprised us is that cars can park on the sides of these mostly narrow roads, and passing cars have to stop and take turns driving past them in the remaining narrow lane. Parking is also allowed on main roads even when there is no parking lane for them.
- STOP! They are serious about traffic laws here, and they are are enforced by cameras all over town. If they catch you hurrying through a yellow light, expect to get a ticket in the mail for about $700. Same goes for driving across town. They can tell if you drove too fast and (Surprise!) will ticket you by mail.
- How do I get there? Small, narrow roads are called highways, and four lane roads even with stop signs and with no barriers dividing them are called freeways. Freeways as they exist in the U.S. are called expressways and are usually out of town – good to know when asking directions!
- Give way! We have found Australian drivers to be a little aggressive, but also very courteous. If you signal, they will try to let you in. And in spite of all our nutty driving errors as we’ve been learning our way around, we’ve haven’t had anyone honk, glare or send a gesture our way-until today. Someone behind us honked when we we didn’t start moving when we had the chance to do so. How can you blame them for that?
- No flimsy houses, here! Virtually all the architecture in Adelaide is quite different than home. Newer buildings, including apartments and homes, are very modern and are different styles than I’ve seen before. Homes are made of brick, stone, blocks or a combination of those. It is rare to find one that does not have a privacy fence completely around it, or at a minimum, a short brick or block wall in the front, usually with wrought iron, and/or a hedge between the posts. Most of the older homes I’ve seen have very fancy metal trim as well. Yesterday we happened to drive by some of the mansions in town, and they were truly beautiful – maybe even magnificent!
- Finally, Aussies and Australia are just plain awe-some! You can’t help but love these friendly, kind and courteous people! Seeing the many ways in which things are different here is a reminder about the wonderful variety of tastes, styles, and creativity we find in different parts of the world. But I find people just about everywhere to be pretty much the same: they love and care about their families, and want the most they can get out of life. I hope while we are here to be able to help enrich the lives of those that are looking for something more – for that piece that is missing – like I received from the restored gospel when it was shared with me many years ago.