I have always had mixed feelings about first impressions and their accuracy. Opinions often do vary with time, but based on my first week in Hobart, Tasmania, I doubt my feeling that this place is incredible will ever change. A lot is different, probably more so than I expected. Here are some of my thoughts about the things I have encountered in my first week:
Driving on the left side of the road is really hard to get used to. I still don’t know which way to look when I’m crossing the street sometimes. I usually just look both ways many times, just to be safe. The wheel being on the opposite side throws me off, too. Once, I swore there was a child driving, but he was just in the passenger seat. It’s even trickier when walking towards someone on the street. I always go right when I’m supposed to go left and this has resulted in me walking into people on several occasions.
Everyone here is so friendly and laid back. It’s so different being in a place where everyone is content living their lives and no one is in a rush. In America, everyone is constantly in a hurry and here, almost no one is. On the weekends, some stores and restaurants aren’t even open and during the week most places close by five p.m. so that people can actually enjoy their lives.
Luckily, they speak English here. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to travel somewhere like Spain or Japan where you might not even know the language. That being said, there are still some things that I’ve heard and have had to Google mid conversation. Bottle shop is their version of a liquor store. Ketchup is called tomato sauce. Napkins are called serviettes. A docket is a receipt. Bikkie is short for biscuit which is apparently a cookie (although chocolate chip cookies are still cookies). McDonald’s is Macca’s down here. Side note: Australian McDonald’s is so much better and the prices are even cheaper. So long story short, they do speak English here, but it’s definitely Australian English.
The Australian accent is something I am definitely a fan of. It seems like every word just has an extra “r” at the end. Somehow Tasmania sounds like Tasmanier. It’s really quite interesting. I don’t think I will ever be used to people pointing out my American accent. In Denver, people can usually tell I’m from Chicago, but getting compliments on my “awesome” American accent is strange; it’s really not that awesome. I will admit, though, that it is super amusing to hear the locals attempt American accents. Usually it comes out sounding like a southern hick or a valley girl.
Cultural adjustment can be difficult—but it is seriously so cool to be out of my comfort zone and learning new things.