Monday, June 14, 2010

Three Year Expativersary

This was the cake from our going away party in 2007.

Three years ago today we left our cushy life in Florida and embarked upon the biggest adventure of our lives, moving across the world to Australia.  Prior to the actual move, I had never been to Australia.  But I thought it would be good, thought that it would be productive, and definitely, hoped we weren't making the biggest mistake of our lives.  One thing was certain, the experience of living abroad was going to change us individually, and as a family, forever.

So we arrived in Sydney happy to have left George Bush, sad to have left our family and friends, and extremely scared and excited to see what this next chapter of our lives would bring.

We spent much of our first year trying to understand what people were saying without asking them to repeat themselves for the umpthteenth time.  We met Australians who thought America was evil, we met others who thought it was a land of opportunity, and shopping, and friendly faces. 

And here we are three years later.  And now the thoughts in my head are often spoken with that same Australian accent I struggled to decipher.  And now we understand that you don't say the word "fanny", but you do say "ta".   And we know which coin is which, and actually prefer to have our one-dollar bill in the form of a gold coin.  Not to mention the bonus of there being a two-dollar coin.

We now appreciate the lack of drive-thru restaurants, well at least until our five year old is having a meltdown in the backseat-- then not so much.  And there are many American things we wish had never made their way to Australia...  like Fox News and Spam (not the email kind).

Living in Australia we've been eating:
  • Lamb, in all its various preparations.
  • Vegemite (my children eat it, I on the other hand have still not tasted it).
  • Ricotta cheese on toast with jam, my favorite... I mean favourite.
  • Tasty cheese, we believe it's cheddar-- but we're not quite sure? 
  • Australian hamburgers (which are not that common to begin with) have beetroot and a fried egg on them, and I think that's pretty cool.
Living in Australia I have learned that:
  • Woolworths is a massive grocery store chain, and not a five-n-dime shop.  
  • Wheel & Barrow is a wannabee Crate and Barrel, but don't get me wrong, I still love shopping there. 
  • The rolling hills topography of Sydney is fantastic, except when you have a six year old who gets carsick... I learned that the hard way.
 Living in Australia we now expect:
  • To pay for parking.
  • To pay double for our groceries, clothing, and cars.
  • To go to five stores to find what we need, when SuperTarget or Costco would have had it all.
Living in Australia we know these words = these words:
  • ta = thank you
  • boot = car trunk
  • lift = elevator
  • rubbish bins = garbage cans
  • jumper = sweater or jacket
  • Year 1 = 1st grade
  • fanny = vajay-jay
Random items related to living in Australia:
  • I can drive on both sides of the road like a champion.
  • My six year old has a full-on Aussie accent, but only when he's speaking to Australians.
  • Single-sex schools have become normal, and the thought of co-ed seems foreign.
  • I now know UGGS are more of a house slipper than a fashion statement.
  • Finding a chemist (that's Aussie for "pharmacy") that's open until 10pm is a big deal!
  • Aussie slang usually entails taking the end off a word and replacing it with "ie".  Such as:  breakfast = brekkie, sunglasses = sunnies, presents = prezzies, etc.
  • No hat, no play.  If your child doesn't have their sunhat, they can't play on the playground at school.  They are serious about this-- and I love it.
And some things will never change:
  • Some modern Australian cuisine is way too modern for us. 
  • I still prefer stop signs over roundabouts. 
  • I still write my dates with the month first... some habits die hard.
  • Saying "your mum" is just as funny as saying "yer mom".  Some people will never think that's funny, but I think they're just missing out. 

And now for a quick look back at our time in Australia in photos:

Hanging out at the Sydney Opera House.

View from behind our old house.

City to Surf 2009 as seen from outside the iconic Golden Sheaf, the band "Phallica" is playing up on the balcony.

 Lorakeets hang out in our backyard.

In the Blue Mountains.

Festival of the Winds kite flying festival Bondi Beach 2009.

 A real live Kookaburra on our back fence; Australians totally crack up at my pronunciation of Kookaburra.

 Luna Park in all its colorfully, creepy fun-ness.

 We live near this!

Lamingtons, and yes I made these!  I think they're like the official treat of Australia, well after Tim Tams that is.

Riding kangaroos is just part of everyday life here, but you all knew that already.

I'm going end this third expativersary celebration with some wise words to move into the future with from a very wise man, my husband.  This is not related to Australia, nor America... it is however related to strange human behaviors which have provoked me to wonder, "What the hell are they thinking?".

So it is with great excitement that I unveil words which miraculously explain the unexplainable.  And without further ado, my new mantra is... "You can't make sense out of nonsense."   For me, those words are the only rationalization for things like this and this; and I look forward to my next few years being absolutely incredible, especially being armed with this new found motto by my side.

Woo-hoo, we will rock on here in Sydney!



      steck said...

      Costco is already in Melbourne, and coming to Sydney ... real soon now.

      But I'll bet they won't have Boca Burgers. I used to live on those.

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Steck- Even though I lived in Boca and do like myself a veggie burger, incredibly I never ate a Boca Burger!!! Can't wait for Costco Sydney!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Steck-- excuse me but I now expect an awesome one-liner everytime.. come on now...

      steck said...

      I do not want to know what the ingredients were in a Boca Raton burger!

      Pretty low on the awesome-meter. Sorry!

      rinniez said...

      wow i cant believe its been 3 years... ive so enjoyed following your adventures! congratulations on lasting this long :)

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Rinniez- That is so nice, thank you!

      Brutalism said...

      What an adventure -- and what beautiful pics! (I'm starting to think single sex classrooms are the way to go...wish that was more common an less expensive here in the states.)

      ChiTown Girl said...

      Happy Anniversary!!! One of these days, I swear I'm gonna just jump on a plane and show up at your door! Australia is so beautiful. :)

      Marvin the Martian said...

      Congratulations! I've learned a lot about Australia from you. Thank you! Me, if I had to move overseas, it would either be Australia, New Zealand, Holland or Switzerland. Or Antarctica. I could get hired on by Raytheon and enjoy myself there. But they say that after a couple tours of duty there, you're unable to rejoin society. ;-)

      South Beach Mom said...

      Happy 3rd Expativersary...beautiful pictures. Did you get a new camera? Now remember, I have trouble leaving comments. Just wanted you to know it's me in case I show up as 'Anonymous'.

      Sarah Stewart said...

      Great post - seems you are having a lovely life. Beautiful pics. x

      Jill Stevens, Licensed Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist said...

      i don't understand why your posts always make me cry. i mean always. it's cray-cray. nonetheless- i love this post and miss you- and can't believe it's been 3 years - and want to know when you're coming back! it kinda feels like you're not...that's not true right?

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Brutalism- I agree, but I have just realized we really don't get the boys around a lot of girls-- we need to work on that!

      Chitown- Well you'd better at least send me a photo first and I'll give you my address!! Do it do it do it!

      Marvin- I'd say don't move here-- too far away!!! And I'd probably stay away from moving to Antarctica also...

      South Beach Mom- No, same camera Nikon D80-- still love it. It's all about the 35-200 lens!!!

      Sarah Stewart- Thanks!

      Jill- Awww. Miss you too, call me bitch. I mean call me, bitch-- don't call me a bitch. Do the shoes fit or what?????

      formerly fun said...

      The only thing I miss about moving from Wisconsin to California is family.

      Wait that's not entirely true.

      I miss custard(frozen that is, see Wisconsinites found a way to make ice cream MORE fattening).

      This was lovely, a nice snapshot of your current home base.

      Ps. My word ver is worrypat, is that an expat with anxiety??

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      FF- I know all about frozen custard, I'm originally from Chicago!! Yum.

      Joyce said...

      Hi, this is a very interesting blog! very detailed! keep up with the work! wish I set up a blog when we first came over to Sydney!

      Your sons are adorable! not to mention the whole being able to switch between an Australian and American accent.

      My son (8 now) has totally become more Australian than I have since we moved over here 5 years ago! He has,& yes likes vegemite, learned that shoes are OPTIONAL. something i don't really agree on, but he never wheres shoes anymore, inside or out. wet or dry! and of course fall in love with surfing and the whole nippers (awful name much?) surf lifesaving program.

      Corrina said...

      I want an Aussie accent too!

      I'm happy that you're happy. Isn't it great when things just work out? Good for you and your family. :-D

      Awesome photos too.

      Kate said...

      3 years is a great time to be in a country. You are all settled in, teething problems over and have been there long enough to have good friends and really be enjoying the life and for it to start feeling like home. As for Vegemite - don't bother!And I agree about the beetroot - strange but tasty!! And the view from your house is just awesome.

      Kris said...

      Lovely post! Yep, eagerly awaiting Costco here in Sydney. Oh, and The Gap. Hooray for shopping options! :)

      Anonymous said...

      Aussie Guy in Florida here, Well thanks for the post - now I have home sickness.

      I still find it funny how you pick up the reverse of what I and my wife go on about here in Florida.

      My Wife and Daughter go back to Australia for a month next week - so I will be busy keeping the home fires burning at 97 degrees.

      drkknits said...

      i just came across from kris' blog and i wanted to say how much i enjoyed reading this, its so nice to hear about ourselves from the outside, and to know that you have settled in ok, and enjoying yourself. thanks for the laugh, and the great pictures. and please, do try some vegemite. but only on hot white buttered toast, scraped very thin. i swear its good (its our national dish, really).

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Joyce- Sounds like we've got 3 peas in a pod! Are you friends with many Americans here??

      Corrina- Thank you girlfriend. It's kind of sad because I can't even fake an Aussie accent-- AT ALL!

      Kate- Thanks! And I just feel like I'm not getting the 100% Aussie experience not having eaten the vegemite. I think I should have a inaugural vegemite party and make it a really big deal!! You in?

      Kris- Totally! But I've heard Gap international stores are really really expensive-- like ridiculous. So I think at that point I'd just buy Boden- oh boy I love Boden!! Nice meeting you!

      Aussie Guy in Florida- I love hearing from you! Hope they have a great trip here!! Sorry I made you homesick. You can get me back with three little words-- Chik-Fil-A. hahahaha

      drkknits- Thank you and I will eat vegemite in the near future-- sounds like a blog post in the making, uh oh.

      Anonymous said...
      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
      Dina said...

      I'm with you on the stop signs and roundabouts.

      Glad you're having fun there!!! It's quite an adventure, and DEFINITELY a learning experience.

      lilDdownunder said...

      First, let me say Congrats on the 3 year mark! Loved looking back at your photos, too. I just learned all about that wannabe Crate and Barrel place and now I really want to go! Can we have a YDU day out to there and Costco when it opens? :)

      Secondly, ugh, can you delete the anonymous comment about
      George Bush that is two above mine, please? I hate when people don't have the balls to make a statement and stick behind it by using their name. Plus, I believe it was GB in office in June 2007 so I don't get the point?

      Once again, congrats and I would love to hear your son talk to my fiance in an Aussie accent and me in an American one, I would die!

      Anonymous said...
      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
      suzinoz said...

      Congrats on 3 years in Australia. You've entertained a lot of people along the way. =)Hope the ride continues to be a good one!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Dina- Yes, I think the roundabout leaves too much room for misjudgment and error!

      lilDdownunder- Yes for sure-- but we should meet well before then anyway! And thank you for being such a knightess in shining armor!

      Suzinoz- Thank you so much!!

      lilDdownunder said...

      Yeah, Steve was just saying the other day that we should try and meet up with some fellow Yanks sometime soon so we'll have to figure out something fun for us all to do.
      I'm having a read and a laugh at your Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster now, thanks :)

      hotel potsdamer platz berlin said...

      How its being in Sydney for you???

      jpck said...

      Congratulations on the 3-year mark!!!!!

      Kristi said...

      you seem so comfortable in sydney. happy celebrating. wanted to say thank you for your words over on my blog. i don't hear from a lot of expats in that space, so you comment was so appreciated.

      Christine said...

      Great post! Happy expativersary. I love to read about all of your experiences - and as for your epiphany, I had a similar one where I finally learned not to expect reasonable behavior from unreasonable people. It's really helped.

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      lilDdownunder- can you email me at so we can make a date? Do you know Aussie Erin?

      hotel potsdamer- It's being good mate.

      jpck- Thanks!!

      Kristi- Your blog is seriously beautiful, I kind of want to be you.

      Christine- Totally.

      headbang8 said...

      Glad to hear life is (mostly) good. Though I must say, I much prefer roundabouts.

      Australia migration said...

      this site is really a good site. the site has lots of information that i need. this site helps me to get rid of my problems of finding information.

      steck said...

      In case you're missing the USA, the Meetup Expat American group is having a picnic at Centennial Park this Sunday, July 4, at noon.


      All invited.

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      headbang8- I can see why people prefer roundabouts, is it that you don't HAVE to stop if no one is to your right?

      Australian Migration- Cuidado, mi pluma esta en la casa!

      Steck- Thanks for telling me about that! I have a cold, but I'm going to check the site out now, maybe if we're feeling better?? Are you going?

      mklsnyder said...

      Happy Expativersary! Thank you for sharing your adventure. My family arrived in June for 2-3 years from CT. It has been fun to read and get some ideas of what to expect.

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      mklsnyder- Thanks! I have cousins in Stamford, CT. Hope you're settling in okay!

      A Free Man said...

      Mmmm. Lamb. And one of my favourite things about Australia is the lack of giant big box stores. Though that does seem to be changing...

      When are you coming to Adelaide?

      Florida Girl Meets the Midwest said...

      Fantastic. Cultural immersion is amazing to me. I will think twice before I use the word "fanny" ever again. I suppose Australians don't wear "fanny-packs?"

      marci and brian said...

      I'm moving to Sydney in a week and a half with my husband and two boys! If you have a chance I would love any advice on governement schools and areas to live in. I have a 5 1/2 year old boy going into school. If you have a chance I would love to email! My email is Thank you!

      emseedubya said...

      I actually prefer the roundabout; it's much more efficient and statistically safer than 4 way stops!

      I've officially given up on trying to find and re-create American foods here though. It was making me fat! lol

      If I can keep myself from exploding with envy at all the opportunities and cool stuff around you (Sydney > Rural Qld) I'll be subscribing! Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Marci- Glad you got my email, hope to meet up when you're here and settled.

      emseedubya- Our blogs were both featured on a website featuring the 50 best expatriate blogs- yours and mine were the Australia ones! If they didn't email you, I think it was or something like that.

      steck said...

      I did go to the Centennial Park July 4 picnic, and ate way too much.

      Big turnout, about 60 people. The American invasion plans are coming along most excellent!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Steck- I would love to come to a meet up sometime, I will have to check in there more often!

      Becca Powell said...

      I love your blog & your sense of humor. I envy you. Australia looks beautiful.

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Becca- Hi and thank you so much, that's really nice to hear! Cheers matey!

      InALittleMinute said...

      Loved your post.. and could relate to a lot of it. I have lived here 10 years now, loving every minute.

      Although some days I laugh at myself at how 'aussified' I have become.

      Congrats on 3 years!

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Inalitleminute- Where are you? in Sydney? I saw someone yesterday who looked like you...

      london hotel rooms said...

      wonderful post. very much informative. And i came to know a new thing like Boca burger. Keep it up guys. Liked it.

      lyndee03 said...

      Hey I'm planning on moving to Australia when I turn 18 this summer. I'm going over their on my own, not knowing anybody. Any advice?

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Lyndee03- Advice-- oh, so so much. Just remember before you do it, that it is VERY VERY far away, very expensive to fly home for a visit and very expensive to live here. It is also a very different culture, who sometimes is accepting of Americans and sometimes is not. I'd read the many expat blogs and carefully consider why you want to do this. If it's not for a job or for love-- well, I'd make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Good luck pondering all that!!! Cheers mate.

      Erin said...

      I'm baaaaack. I miss you in real life. AND I've missed your blog. I am coming back to the blogging world, but in a new blog... not necessarily 'improved' but 'new'. :-)

      I loved this post. I know I'm WAY late and I showed my expataverary love via Facebook, but I wanted to at least comment on here. I know you love comments! ;-)

      So glad I've been part of your journey her in this crazy place! Love you babe!

      Anonymous said...

      I loved your comment on the UGGs! When we moved back to the states I wanted to scream at everyone and say....they are slippers....that's their purpose! You can buy bart simpson uggs at kmart there. It's not fashion unless your in your house or your 18 on the street

      Florida Girl In Sydney said...

      Erin- Glad to see you'll be back! Looking forward to reading!

      Anonymous- It's too funny, I was just telling my mother in law they were house slippers and I actually don't think she believed me! hahaha