Life as a Broad Abroad by Amanda Pistor

Before I moved to Australia from Texas last month, I had never really been anywhere. I came to Australia to visit my husband for Christmas, and I’d been to Mexico and Canada, but other than that, the pages of my passport were empty. It’s not that I didn’t want to visit other parts of the world. It just wasn’t a huge priority because of time, money or a combination of other excuses.

Naturally, the transition to living abroad has been an exciting and scary whirlwind. Less than a year ago, I was getting used to the idea of living in the suburbs of Houston and commuting to work. Now I’m living with my husband in Australia, working from home as a contractor, and we just got back from a week in Singapore. How did I get here? (That question is rhetorical. I know I got here on an airplane.)

I like to say I’m new in town, new in country and new in continent. I never miss a chance to make a leaky bladder joke. It’s possibly the funniest medical condition since restless leg syndrome. It’s also one I’m afraid of eventually having, but that’s mainly because of how much my mom and sister would make fun of me when they found out. They are the Cobra-Kai Dojo of mockery. Those bitches show no mercy.

The differences between Australia and the United States are not jarring. I mostly feel awkward interacting with Aussies, but I think that will get better. I worry I’m going to use a word they don’t know. I’m terrified to ask for extra napkins in a restaurant, because I know they have another word for them, but I’m not sure if it’s serviettes or something else. I don’t want them to think I’m asking for baby diapers (nappies).

I am having trouble getting used to the metric system. Frankly, I just think it’s stupid. That may be my American arrogance coming out, but I find myself trying to calculate kilometers to miles, centimeters to inches, Celsius to Fahrenheit and so forth. Forced math is a particularly savage kind of torture.

My American arrogance has been on my mind, though, particularly as I watch Australian TV. There are a ton of American TV shows on the air here (and when I see Matt Lauer, it’s like an old friend has come to visit), and American news is included in local news broadcasts. There are the political and financial news stories, but also stories like the one about that leathery mom in New Jersey who took her 5-year-old redhead daughter to the tanning salon. It seems to me that Aussies are well versed in what’s going on in the States, and I’ve wondered why the reverse isn’t true.

I assume a lot of Americans feel a certain confidence in their place in the world. I did before I moved away from home. Now I feel pretty insignificant. I suppose being away from my comfort zone is a factor. It’s a valuable, if surprising, lesson for me.  Americans are a relatively small population to be as influential as they are in the world (or as influential as they think they are).

I didn’t know shit about Australia before I moved here. Now, I find myself Googling their system of government, health care system, sports, pop stars and all kinds of other random topics. I have started watching Australia’s Got Talent and The Voice Australia. (I have also developed a girl crush on Dannii Minogue.)

I plan to actually leave the house and learn more about Australia first-hand. I also hope to visit more countries and learn more about the world through this experience. At the very least, I’ll learn how to ask for napkins.

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Who IS Amanda Pistor?  Click here to find out.

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Comments

  1. shannonhumphreys says:

    I went through (and still deal with) all of this moving to the UK! It’s definitely serviettes here. I found that out about 2 months into working in a kitchen and having a posh older lady ask for some and having no clue what she wanted. I’m quite happy that the Brits still use miles, but everything else is metric. I just gave up and bookmarked a unit converter on line. No more maths for me!!

    • Serviettes? WHAT?!

      • shannonhumphreys says:

        Ha ha! “What” is probably the single most American thing you can say (in the UK, anyway!) and it’s exactly what I said to the lady asking for serviettes and she was hella shocked. Maybe “dude” is more American than “what”, but only slightly. It’s always “excuse me” or “pardon”. I still say the w word, though. It’s too deeply engrained. Also, I refuse to give up “yo”. It reminds me where I come from. Jersey, baby!

  2. And I know I’m gonna have to start using their vocabulary. I’ve already heard myself saying “as well” instead of “too,” and other words like “keen.” I’d feel like a douche if I said “cheers” instead of “thanks,” though. I try not to say “y’all,” and I die a little inside each time.

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