For the next months I will be working as an au pair (basically a live-in nanny… but that just sounds so much less glamorous) in the massive city of Sydney! I arrived down a week ago and already feel like I have been here for at least a month. The 2 boys I am taking care of agree – not sure whether or not that is a good thing or not but there you go. Now since I have been here for SUCH a long time, I feel like I am the perfect person to drop some knowledge on you about the differences and similarities between the way things go here and the way things go back “Up Over” (yeah, that’s not a thing).
Number 1: Christmas. Of course this one is on the top of my list because I am an absolute and total Christmas nut. Or at least I am back home. Christmas here is very much like the Christmas we all know and love – you know; Christmas trees, decorated houses, lights, Santa, holiday, family, food. But there is one thing that massively screws up my normal Christmas joy and that is the fact that it is quite clearly summer. I hear the familiar songs about the same old walk in Winter Wonderland while everyone is actually walking around worrying about whether they have enough sunscreen on. Bing Crosby is still dreaming about a White Christmas, but that dude is going to be sorely dissapointed in 30 degrees Sydney weather. It just doesn’t work! And while the family I am living with have been great and incredibly welcoming – introducing me to their extended family and including me in their plans – they aren’t MY family. Christmas without your family is just a bit strange.
Obviously, there are some things that are great about Australian Christmas. For instance, the kids believe in Santa Clause! Awesome. When I was at Nippers (look it up, it’s so cool) with Ollie, all the kids started freaking out because Santa came racing down the sea and onto the beach in a boat, where he was picked up by lifeguards who took him to the clubhouse where he got up to a balcony and threw candy to a moshpit of enthusiastic children. I shit you not people, reindeers are soooo 2014.
Number 2: People. I know that everyone always says that Australian people are crazy friendly but now I can confirm that. To give one small example out of many: I went into a bank to open up an account. The bank was completely packed and when I got to the counter and told the lady working there that I needed help with this time-consuming thing I was not expecting any smiling faces. However, she just said that it was very busy and she didn’t want to rush me so she called another person in from the back to help me out. I am taken into the office by another woman and everything is taken care of while we casually babble on about our lives. The next day I got a text from her, thanking me for coming to that branch and letting me know that they will do whatever they can to give me 10/10 service, so if there were any problems this was the number of the branch. The text had a smiley. Nuff said.
Number 3: Driving. When I only consider the driving part of my experience here so far I must say I could just as well be driving around in England. Virtually every streetname in Sydney is familiar: Oxford street, Paddington, Kings Cross, etc. etc. People also drive on the wrong side of the road with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car. People on the roads are furthermore NOT afraid of using their horns, unlike back home. For everything. And they are impatient AF. And it is hilly (or, in Dutch terms, mountainy). And I don’t know where anything is located. Soooo yeah… Great fun! However, the huge redeeming quality of it all is that I am driving an automatic car and that my eyes have been opened to the wonders of automatic driving. Guys – I know that it is very uncool to drive an automatic car in the Netherlands, but it is SO EASY. I am in love with it – even though yesterday the car started beeping out of nowhere and with no indication about why it started doing that. It stopped now so I love it again. What I don’t love, however, is that everything is so unbelievably far away from eachother that you can’t just walk. Or, god forbid, bike (oh, you silly Dutch person).
Ok, that is enough wisdom for one blog. Before I pick the guys up from their basketball camp/gymnastics camp I have to go to the RTA to get my Working With Children Check. This will be my third and hopefully final trip there to get 80 dollars taken off my acount for some beaurocratic bullshit I don’t need. If there is one thing that is the same in every country you go to, it is the government trying their best to get money from people for things that aren’t useful.