Don’t feel expat shame when you need to let your homegrown hair down

Don’t feel expat shame when you need to let your homegrown hair down

Believe it or not, Australians are not the only expats in London. We aren’t the only ones who like to make a bit of homegrown noise every now and then, so there’s no need to be embarrassed about it.

Australians living in London typically aim to become emerged in British life, but we also like to touch home base occasionally and get down and messy with our compatriots. However, London is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and around the city there exists other expat groups just as significant as the Australian community living abroad.

It was a rainy Sunday when my housemate and I looked at each other, acknowledged we were completely bored and decided to have a ‘random Sunday’ wandering around Soho looking for trouble. An Irish friend had mentioned the night before there would be “a fair few” people showing up at Waxy O’Connors Irish pub on Sunday afternoon. So we headed straight there to see what all of the fuss was about.

You could see the ‘fuss’ almost immediately upon entering. You have to understand Waxy O’Connors is a huge venue, a virtual rabbit’s warren of little bars and winding staircases. Despite its immense size, the pub was full to the brim of Irish expats gathered to watch the All-Ireland Hurling Final. They had come from nowhere, descending upon the biggest Irish-themed venue in London for an event I had no idea even existed.

Sometimes we get a bit trapped, living in the Aussie expat bubble. We prepare all year for the AFL or NRL finals, we do our best to celebrate Australia Day in the frost of the UK winter.

It sometimes fails to register that Australians aren’t the only nationality who come to London en masse to make a life. We aren’t the only ones with the need to gather with our fellow countrymen now and again, just to feel a sense of home.

I admit I had no idea what hurling even was before showing up on that rainy Sunday. We picked up the rules pretty quickly, with a few contextual assists from the friendly Irish punters. We picked within the first ten minutes who to support — mostly because the team Clare seemed to have a lot of attractive women cheering for them.

My housemate and I yelled and clapped when Clare scored, groaned when the opposition made a valiant comeback and punched the air in glee when Clare made an equalising shot at goal in the final seconds to bring the match to a draw. We desperately asked everyone we could find when the grand final replay would be, committed to doing it all again.

Australians in London generally try to assimilate into British life, however we shouldn’t feel bad or embarrassed about letting our collective expat hair down with other Aussies every now and then. As the wild afternoon with our Irish cousins showed, we aren’t the only ones who like to make a bit of homegrown noise occasionally.

And as an outsider, I absolutely loved being part of another country’s expat mayhem. There’s probably plenty of non-Aussies that love joining in on our Down Under madness too.

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Paul Bleakley

Paul Bleakley

Paul Bleakley is a journalist and academic raised on Queensland's Gold Coast. After graduating with a Bachelor of Journalism, he went on to teach high school English and History in his hometown. Paul's work on democratic revolutions is featured in the book 'The Cultivation of Peace'. He loves reality TV, wandering aimlessly and wearing thongs (flip flops) on cold days.