In an attempt to keep the talk about the zillion things I’m finding new and different here in Australia under control, I’ve decided to start a new mini-series called Foreign Affairs. Clever, right? Here I will have an outlet to express my excitement about different Aussie customs, life in Australia in general, and to talk about the things I miss back home. This will hopefully leave my other posts to focus more on my daily inspirations and goings-on. In short, I’m trying to prevent myself sounding like a broken record, which may or may not work. We’ll see. Moving on.
The most obvious difference I’ve noticed since moving here, aside from driving on the left side of the road (which I’ve pretty much mastered, by the way), is that everyone I interact with has an accent. This was a pretty no-duh change, and one that I didn’t expect to notice too much since Luke’s obviously also got an accent (and sometimes I even listen to what he says… ha). But what I underestimated was how much I would turn heads when I open my mouth in public places. Whether I’m shouting at Luke down the aisles of the grocery store, talking to a bartender at the pub, and answering my phone in public, I notice that people sometimes turn their heads to look at me. Waaa, foreigner! Because of this, I was so conscious of my accent when I first got here that I avoided speaking at all when I was out by myself. I’d spend useless time wandering around the grocery store looking for items instead of asking, and I was that jerk who’d accidentally walk into you and not even say sorry (in hindsight I could have attempted a super-lame “sorry mate!” or something…). But now I’ve managed to get over my issues and actually sometimes completely forget I sound a bit out-of-the-norm. Sadly, I still have difficulty avoiding people while walking though.
One of the many funny accent-conversations I’ve had was at work a few weeks back when a coworker asked me if I thought the way she said the word ‘out’ was funny. “Don’t you guys say oot?”. Ah yes, that one (and for the record, I do not). Another coworker asked me what it was like to eat ‘poon tang’. “You know, that dish with fries and gravy and cheese?”. I. literally. died.
But really, the best thing about having a North American accent is that it’s so easily understood by everyone, thanks mostly to the prominence of American television shows and ads that are played here. In contrast, when Luke came out to my hometown last year, his accent was so literally foreign to everyone that he had to slow his speech in a major way, and he endured endless “pardon? could you repeat that?” please. Here though I rarely get that, because everyone is so used to hearing my way of speaking. Seriously, that rocks.
All in all, I have to admit that it’s kind of fun to have a bit of attention focused on me and where I’m from. It certainly makes for an easy small talk topic, even though I frequently get mistaken for an American. Actually, I find it quite funny how many people will blatantly not assume I’m American, and proceed to ask me if I hate others who do make the assumption. Again, for the record, I do not. Hey, it’s not America’s fault that they have a much bigger global presence than us Canucks. But now I know that all I have to do to be clear that I’m Canadian is talk about goin’ oot to get me some poon tang. Eh.