At Australian Times we thought we’d provide our own list of cultural ‘dos and don’ts’ for Brits when approaching Aussie expats.
A letter, if you will, to the lovely Brits who accommodate us in their homeland from the perspective of Aussies who actually live here and those who are recent arrivals.
The real nitty gritty wishes of the expat Aussie in Britain:
1. DON’T ask me: ‘Why on Earth are you here?’
Yes, we understand that in the eyes of many Brits we all come from a land of sun, surf, sea and sand — and why would we ever choose to live in the cold and wet? This slightly backhanded compliment is not entirely welcoming. We also love a bit of self-deprecating humour, but just so you know, it’s never just about the weather. In actual fact, we’ll never fully understand why you all talk so much about the weather.
2. DO invite us places, we WILL behave. And the ‘tea rule’
It’s a cliché for a reason. Many Aussies love a good time, so please invite us places. Also, despite the reputation for rowdiness, we can likewise chill-out or engage in debate as much as the next person. However, a warning: we stick to our word, if you invite us somewhere we will probably turn up. A small but fundamental difference between us, most of our questions are not asked out of politeness. We also don’t understand the ‘tea rule’ off the bat. If you say ‘no’ to a cuppa we think you mean it. We don’t realise the British tradition of refusing at first and then saying yes when asked a second time.
3. Please DON’T ask about our visa
This just makes us feel you’re counting down the days till you get rid of us. In job interviews it’s a nightmare; we can tell you’re just calculating how many months until we leave, or how long before they you will have to start recruiting again. Many of us do have a date we have to leave or even choose to leave, but while we’re loving every minute, please don’t mention it!
4. DO have fun with the ‘blunt sarcasm’
We Aussies can be blunt and sarcastic. Yes, some of us are often outspoken. However, so are many Brits. We have a similar sense of humour, we’re just more upfront with strangers. By the time you get to know us, you will realise we make jokes and have a laugh in the same way as you.
5. DON’T ask me to repeat a word or phrase
Although seemingly adorable, please don’t ask me to constantly repeat words like ‘aquatic’, just because I say it like ‘ah-kwottic’ rather than ‘a-kwattick’. It’s fun the first few times, but correcting us publicly won’t make us change how we were brought up to say it. Furthermore, comments about how we ‘destroy’ the English language with colloquialisms are a bit harsh, especially when Britain has so many regional dialects that we don’t know what ‘gurrt lush’, ‘twaddle’ or ‘to pull’ is, either.
6. DON’T assume we are all convicts
A recent census proved that one in four Australians are born overseas and 43% of us have a parent born overseas. We are very multicultural and many of us are first-generation Australians ourselves. So please, no jokes about convicts.
7. DO get to know that we have regional differences
We’re not all from Sydney and Melbourne and most of us haven’t dived The Great Barrier Reef nor visited Uluru. Some of us grew up on beaches, others on acres of inland farmland. Just like someone’s experience from Manchester differs from that of someone from Durham, as does the experiences of someone from Perth (WA) to that of someone from Wagga Wagga.
8. DO bring ‘The Brit’
The idea we all hang around in Earl’s Court eating Vegemite and lamenting the loss of the sun is an outdated stereotype. We’re generally an adventurous people who love to branch out. We want to try everything, so do pass us Yorkshire Puddings and teach us local customs. We grew up with our TV screens blaring out BBC programmes and English muffins in our supermarkets. We love a bit of cultural exchange and will often understand more than you think about British culture, including the diversity of modern Britain.
9. DON’T hold us responsible for Murdoch
A silly one, but something I’d always get snide remarks about. He was educated in the UK, moved to New York in 1974, became a naturalised American, and we don’t control who reads The Sun.
10. DO ask us about drop bears…
Because it’s a fabulous joke that just keeps giving, and in the end proves we have more in common that not.
TOP IMAGE: By William Perugini via Shutterstock.com