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Emily Anne Thomason, Brisbane

Who are you?

I am a small town girl from Arkansas/Texas that wants to explore the world one memory at a time. After I got married I was blessed with the initials EAT, so there was the idea for my blog. My blog is all about our adventures, packing up, exploring, and learning other cultures.The blog is so people can journey with us from packing up our house, moving overseas, traveling all over Australia/Asia side of the world, furnishing our house cheaply, and making memories together. I know there are “REALLY?!?” and “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!” along the way, so come laugh with us on our adventure!

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

My husband got transfered with his company to Australia. We were told that we had to live in the amazing city of Brisbane. I would put Brisbane in one of the top oil and gas cities in the world. We were really lucky to be “forced” to move to such an amazing city. We were happy to move to a city that speaks English, but there were still many things that were different here. First thing is when we first moved here, we didn’t buy a car. We had many instances with trying to learn public transportation. First getting furniture for our place was very interesting. Meeting friends was also hard at first, but eventually I found amazing people to be my new family. I would not use the word complicated to explain settling down, I think interesting would be a better word.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Honestly we did not face a lot of challenges, we just accepted things were going to go wrong, and just laugh and make memories, while enjoying the ride.

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Are there many other expats in your area?

Yes, there is a great expat community in Brisbane. I feel like I met every one of my friends at such strange places, but since we were expats we all clung together.

What do you like about life where you are?

There is not one thing I can really complain about, I mean come on. I live in Australia! I wrote this when we had been here a year, I would still say I think the same thing. I have lived in Australia for over a year now, hit the one year mark last week. I still wake up and pinch myself. As long as I can remember I had in my bucket list to spend a year overseas before I turned 30. I would write down every trip in hopes it would one day add up to a year. I never really thought I would get a full year in one place. Well, I didn’t exactly make the full year before 30, but I sure got to do better than that while I was 30 and while I am 31.

I am loving every second I have in a totally different culture and the cultures we have gotten to experience though travel this year. There are so many people I miss from home, but I am loving the opportunity to experience a new culture.

It is amazing to me how similar and alike cultures are. Culture is something I have always been fascinated with. The way people live intrigues me. I’m slowly realizing I am starting to pick up cultural habits of Aussies. Every time I call a jacket a jumper it makes me smile. I have slowly learned contrary to southern belief we do not have to have meat every meal. I have also learned though the year healthier ways to live. It makes me smile every time I realize small ways I am picking up the culture. Now don’t get me wrong I still have a lot to pick up, I still catch myself looking the wrong way to cross the street and at times trying to get in the wrong side of the car. I also don’t think I will ever come to grasps with ar makes the “ah” sound so car would be pronounced “cah.” Everyday I make myself stop and look around.

I am so happy Josh and I have gotten this opportunity to really get to know each other, be forced to lean on each other and honestly learn how to live day in day out with each other.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I miss Tex-Mex, family, and friends.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

10. Take time and drink coffee/tea

I can not tell you how many times I hear friends inviting friends or coworkers for a coffee. Coffee is also a very social time. Australians know good coffee, and are proud of that. A cup of coffee will run you anywhere from $3.00 to $6.00. Their coffee and social time has turned me into a coffee drinker. When I first moved here, I would only order Chai latte, until I found out how many calories were in one and how frequently I was going out for a coffee. Josh and I wake up every morning around 4:30 just so we can have forty-five minutes each morning before the crazy day starts, sit outside, talk and drink our coffee. I thank Australia for teaching us to do that.

9. Eating is a social time

If you go to dinner with some friends, it may take four hours. You don’t plan dinner and a movie. There is no tipping here so the servers are not really pushing you out the door the second you take your last bite. The servers will get paid the same if you leave or not. It may take an hour to get your food, and everyone is ok with that. During the weekend, brunch is a huge meal, I see people sitting at a table when I go for a run and still there when I am coming back after 13 miles. Going out is just much slower paced.

8. Attending church is an effort

Growing up in the Bible belt, and going to a Christian University, I took church for granted. I mean come on, if you are in the Bible Belt, can you count the churches in your town? Here you have to seek to find a church. A lot of the church buildings have been turned into bars or other things, because church is not that big of a deal here. Not many people choose to go.

7. Travel is a must

When you sit down with a group of friends, one of the topics discussed frequently, is “So, where are you going next?” “Tell me about your trip to X.” Even in schools, when I listen to the children speak, they all talk about going to this country or that. Last year almost half of my class was not born in Australia. This year I do not have anyone in my class that hasn’t left Australia at least once. Australians look at the world as a place of adventure. Most Australians I know make a place in their budget for travel. Most people would say food, clothing, shelter are all a human needs; Australians would add travel to the needs list.

6.The world is small

Now going with the travel thing, you meet people from every country and culture here. When you have conversations with people you can always find someone who is from a country you are interested in or at least visited. I love to go and talk to people from the place while I am planning a trip. Australia is a real place where cultures have melded together, while still holding on to the personal traditions of the individual. There is every type of food you can imagine (except Tex-Mex) in Australia. You really can see many types of cultures in one place.

5. Work to live, not live to work

This is something I really feel most Americans get wrong. A lot of Australians I have talked to will work and save money, quit their job, travel, and then come back and work at a different job. The Australian workforce really encourages people to take off, but stay with their job. Everyone gets four weeks’ holiday every year. When you have worked for a company for ten years, you get six weeks’ leave extra. The six weeks is called long service leave! Yes you read that correctly. Can you imagine if all Americans got that? One reason Americans really can’t travel is most employers only give two weeks’ holiday. One week is used at Christmas, a couple days at Thanksgiving, and then you only have a couple left for travel.

4. How many times in a day I have to think about my words.

I have to think about what someone is saying, or I have to stop and have a chuckle to myself. I have to always remember you never “root” for a team in Australia. That does not mean the same thing at all, private message me, I will explain if needed. I still chuckle to myself when a kid at school yells, “I can’t find my rubber.” Yeah, rubber isn’t an eraser in US. Again, private message me, if you need me to explain. I have picked up on the saying, “no worries”.

3. Eat Fresh and Healthy

I love how healthy this country is. It has made us learn to eat fresh, clean, and healthy if we wanted to or not. Now, do not get me wrong, I totally would love a good Chick – fil – a chicken biscuit or some amazing cheese dip every now and then, but it is really easy not to put it in your mouth, when it is not available. It is cheaper to eat from the markets, and not processed. I feel like in the US processed food is cheaper than fresh, it is the opposite here. Want a can of Pringles? Be ready to shell out $4.00 at the grocery store closest to our house.

2. The customer is not always right

I do not know how often I just look at situations and laugh, “Well, we are in Australia.” Our car we bought from a dealership broke down three times before the first tank of gas was gone. Can you imagine if that happened in the States, they would be trying to throw in every free thing you can imagine. Not here, it is not their fault, it happened, life goes on. We have gone to a restaurant, had horrible food, told them we couldn’t eat it, “Sorry.” That’s it, not sorry, can I take that off your bill, can I give you a free dessert, just sorry. Things happen, people make mistakes, Australians do not make a habit of comforting the customer, I am not really sure if this is because of the no tipping world, but it really does change the atmosphere. “No worries, mate.” There are parts of this I like, for example, it is not the employees’ fault the owner made a policy they have to enforce, but I will admit it is a total mind shift. I am not saying that all companies adopt this policy, but we sure have seen it a lot.

1. Don’t take life so seriously – JUST CHILL

If I had to sum everything up that Australians have taught me it is one word, CHILL. I love the laid back atmosphere of Australia. “No Worries Mate,” is something I hear multiple times a day. I have even started saying “No Worries,” I love it.

If you don’t get to something today, no worries.
If you forgot something really important, no worries.
If you think your world is falling apart, no worries.
If you dropped your coffee all over someone, no worries.

In the grand scheme of things we should all look at some aspects of the Australian culture and take notes, all the junk doesn’t matter, spend time with your mates, and no worries.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

JUST GO, DO, MAKE MEMORIES, and accept it isn’t home. Don’t try to compare everything to “back home.” Just enjoy the present.

What are your plans for the future?
We are actually about to move back to the States, with a new attitude, and a new lease on life.

You can keep up to date with Emily Anne’s adventures on her blog, EAT All Over The World.

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