Howdy from Brisbane! Speaking of dumb: I have been staying at a place with no air conditioning for the last week. The other day it was 105 degrees with 75% humidity! I now respect the luxury of air conditioning. Off to the beach tomorrow!
I have been traveling for a little more than one month and yes, I have only visited Australia – an English speaking western country. But, I have found many common phrases and daily tasks that have made me feel, well, dumb…
Things I had to re-learn, so far:
- Crossing the street – I look left, cars come from the right, I just can’t adapt.
- Driving – on the left side of the road, right side of the car, weird but fun.
- Coffee – when I first arrived in Australia, I ordered an “Americano” and was quickly informed that they can’t make an Americano – espresso with hot water, but they can make me a “long black” – less hot water with more espresso. This was very confusing, what’s the difference? I later found out a long black is made by pouring a double-shot of espresso over hot water to retain the crema of the espresso. Mucho yum.
- Food – for “take away” or “to have here” – don’t say “carry out” or “to-go” or “table for one,” you’ll get deported.
- Trash – you throw trash away in the “rubbish bin.” Asking for a trash can will get you deported, again.
- Ordering eggs – just ask for poached, scrambled or fried – I had trouble explaining “over-easy” to someone who had no idea what I was talking about.
- Haircut – getting a haircut was the most stressful thing I have done so far. I was so nervous. Where do I go, what do I say, are they going to use some weird type of scissors I have never seen before? No. I’m dumb.
- Greetings – “How you going?” means “how are you doing?” or “what’s up?” I thought I was being asked where I was going, so I answered, to the toilet. Woops.
- Traffic news – A car crash is a car smash.
- Warm Down Zone – this is where you go after you run a marathon to cool down. I mean, warm down. Whatever.
- Beer sizes – middy, ten, handle, pot, schooner, pint, jug? Uhh, I’ll just have water.
At first I would get a little discouraged, frown and then try to fit in by adopting these phrases. I walked up to the grocery store check out guy and said “How you going mate?” he responds, “I’m pretty good man, how are you doing?” Doh, he was Canadian. After that I realized that things like this provide an endless amount of entertainment, I don’t have to fit in and I can just be me. I love feeling dumb, this is what traveling is all about! The most dumb feeling is the feeling of not being myself.
The most dumb feeling is the feeling of not being myself.
I know this will be more interesting when I visit places that don’t speak english. But for now, in Australia, I’ll just smile at everyone and include the words “howdy” and “ya’ll” in every sentence.