Bicultural Urbanite Brianna At home she feels like a tourist
In the darkest days of the German winter, a lack of vitamin D triggers my homing instinct and I embark on a long seasonal migration south – not unlike a duck.
Landing in Melbourne, dishevelled and dehydrated after a 24-hour journey, I’m reunited with my family after almost twelve months. I step outside Tullamarine Airport and am immediately thunderstruck by the bright colours and botanical fragrances of the Australian summer. I’m home again, but certainly no local. Like a tourist visiting my past, I indulge in my old favourite foods, stock up on the essentials and explore the latest incarnation of the world’s most liveable city.
While I’m back in town, I’m treated to a snapshot of Australian life. As the image slowly develops, it reveals a mishmash of the familiar, the uncanny and the unexpected. Half portrait, half landscape, the scene is crowded with well-known faces, striking new architecture, overcrowded trams and seagulls snatching hot chips at the beach.
Like a BuzzFeed art historian, I will now attempt to unpack this picture by pointing out my favourite bits in list-form. (After all, it’s about time this blog had a listicle.)
Catch-up drinks in Fitzroy | © Brianna Summers
WHEN I’M BACK IN AUSTRALIA…
1) Stay with my parents at Hotel Summers (the service is fantastic, five stars!).
…I CAN’T WAIT TO…
2) Hang out with my siblings and their partners / kids / dogs.
3) Use words like ‘doovalacky’, ‘longneck’, ‘op shop’, ‘garbo’, ‘servo’, ‘spag bol’ and ‘woop woop’ – and be understood by those around me.
4) Go to Chemist’s Warehouse and pretend I’m a contestant on Supermarket Sweep.
5) Go to Readings Bookstore and pretend I never have to leave.
6) Swim laps at an outdoor pool with the luxury of designated lanes. (Unbelievably, the Germans haven’t cottoned on to the whole FAST, MEDIUM and SLOW system, leading to frustrating bottlenecks and dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.)
The clocks at Flinders St Station | © Brianna Summers
…I LOVE EATING…1) As much smashed avocado as I can – and I’ve got a mortgage, so myth busted!
2) Fresh, quality produce, which makes a welcome change from the endless parade of cabbage, capsicums and Kohlrabi that greet me each week at Lidl.
3) Culinary delicacies such as meat pies, two dollar fifty sushi rolls, fish and chips (with chicken salt, obviously), properly hot Indian curries and authentic Asian food.
4) A variety of lollies from my childhood including – but not limited to – musk sticks, Minties, chocolate freckles and hedgehog (Australia’s answer to Kalter Hund).
5) Coke slurpies. I recently discovered that slurpies now only cost a dollar. This is particularly noteworthy given that Australia has become so affluent and expensive in my absence that a single dollar is essentially useless. Unless you’re into Coke slurpies.
Smashed avocado on toast | © Wikipedia Commons
…I STOCK UP ON…1) Vegemite. Nuff said.
2) Sunshine and vitamin D. Berlin’s winter is overcast, miserable and lasts for FIVE MONTHS.
3) Pawpaw ointment. Like Kathmandu clothing or thongs in winter, use of this product will always enable you to spot an Australian abroad. This cult ointment is beloved by Australian women globally, who use it as lip balm.
4) Undies. Like many Australians, I tend to buy Bonds underpants. Bonds seems to have a stranglehold on the country’s undergarment market, or at least has managed to develop such unwavering brand loyalty that just about every elastic waistband on the continent features a never-ending declaration of BONDSBONDSBONDS.
Australian expat essentials | © Brianna Summers
…I’M BAMBOOZLED BY…1) The sheer volume of traffic and the SIZE of the cars on Australian roads. Peak hour resembles a slow-moving monster truck derby.
2) Melbourne tap water. Why does it taste like heavily chlorinated pool water?
3) The nightlife. Many of my old haunts have been swallowed up by the sands of time. Mercifully, my former stomping ground Cherry Bar still hosts Soul In The Basement every Thursday night.
4) PayWave blows my mind. It’s the debit card equivalent of a packet of TimTams that never runs out. I tap all over the place like I’ve won the lottery, completely oblivious of how much I’m spending. Aside from the obvious pitfalls (spending all my money), I do enjoy the convenience.
5) The ridiculously poor attendance at One Day International cricket matches. Families are clearly flocking to the Big Bash and Boomers remain faithful to Test, leaving me and a handful of other 30-something ODI-tragics woefully failing to get a Mexican wave to successfully circumnavigate the MCG.
FAREWELL, POSSUMSBut all things must pass. After I’ve soaked up enough rays, I thank my gracious hosts at Hotel Summers as I casually wrestle with my suitcase, attempting to force it shut without bursting too many tubes of pawpaw ointment.
See you next year, Australia. | © Brianna Summers