American Habits in Australia

February 10, 2010

in adapting, exploring, personality

When I took my first trip overseas to England, Scotland and Wales 10 years ago, I was introduced to a delightful little card game called “asshole” (for those who don’t know the rules, click here), which I’m sure Askew World Order, who was also on that trip, will remember. I quickly became obsessed and wound up playing the game with my best friends and boyfriend for much of the summer leading up to my freshman year of college.

You can imagine my extreme elation, then, when while hanging out with a group of American expats Saturday night, one of the guys busted out the cards to play. There I was, in another foreign city with another group of Americans a decade after the fact playing a card game that generally encourages players in top positions to degrade the others. I performed somewhere in the middle, never becoming President, but also never being the asshole.

Though the card game was quite a roar, the fun didn’t stop there. One of the pack suggested karaoke, so we made our way to one of those places where you sing in the booth instead of onstage (thank God, because my singing abilities leave much to be desired). Let me tell you, there is nothing like seeing a bunch of 30-something professional men belt out the words to “Like a Prayer.” It was a fun time, and the night didn’t end till close to 4 (after the customary stopping for a slice of pizza, a trend from my Saturday nights back home).

The next day, I decided to check out the Queen Victoria Building, St. Mary’s Cathedral and Hyde Park. While strolling through the park, I stumbled upon some men playing chess on a huge board. They were quite a bunch of characters, yelling at each other and gesturing fervently as they kicked and knocked around the large pieces.

My favorite was an old bloke with a hat and a suit jacket who chain smoked in the oddest of manners–by opening up his mouth wide and then clamping down on the cigarette in a few short puffs. When he sat out the next round, a pig-tailed little girl clutching two stuffed animals wandered over to him and watched the smoke billow out from his mouth. He turned to her and held up his hand for a high five, which she answered with a smack of her tiny hand.

On Monday, after I spent the day officially getting back to freelance writing work, I headed over to a Super Bowl party with the same crew I had gone to karaoke with plus some more Americans and actual Aussies. It was funny watching the game hours after it had been played, but the festivities definitely weren’t lacking with the good beer, snacks and politically incorrect jokes.
I’m still very much taken with the newness of being here, but I can’t deny that it was nice to hang out with a bunch of people who were at one point in the same position I am in now. Next on the docket: befriend some actual Australians.

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